The Extraordinary Legend Of Billy Nardozzi

By Nolan Moore on Sunday, December 29, 2013
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“Love is stronger than the wind / And it is stronger than the tide / And there is not a better feeling / Than that person by your side” —Billy Nardozzi

In A Nutshell

Billy Nardozzi is a local legend in Pittsburgh. He publishes poetry in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette‘s classifieds, and for years, no one was sure if he really existed or if he was just some elaborate hoax. Today, he’s well known about town, and his simple poems have earned him a cult following.

The Whole Bushel

Pick up a copy of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, turn to the “Celebrations” section of the classifieds, and you’ll find a black-and-white photo of a strange-looking guy sporting a mullet. However, he’s not there to wish anyone a happy birthday or announce an engagement. So what’s he doing in the classifieds? He’s publishing poetry.

His name is Billy Nardozzi, and for the longest time, no one was sure if he even existed. His poems started popping up in the Post-Gazette in 2006, accompanied only by his name and an outdated snapshot of the mystery man. There was no contact information, no biographical details, and no real clues as to who this secretive poet really was. The poems themselves were extremely simple with titles like “My Teacher,” “My Country,” and “When I Was a Kid.” He wrote about topics like Halloween, hometown heroes, the Beatles, and his job. His rhymes were almost childlike. For example:

No matter what money
I make in my pay
Just being employed
Is a blessing today.

And thanks to his innocent words and enigmatic persona, Billy Nardozzi caught the attention of Pittsburgh locals. While some found his poems laughable, others loved Nardozzi’s sweet sentiments (assuming he was real and not some sort of hoax), and he soon developed a cult following. People even started slapping bumper stickers on their cars and wearing bracelets that read “WWBND?” (“What Would Billy Nardozzi Do?”) Sure, there was some irony involved, but there were plenty of people who truly enjoyed Billy’s little verses.

Finally, in 2009, the Post-Gazette ran a story revealing that Nardozzi was in fact a real person who spent his days packing bottles at the local Liquor Control Board. He was just your average married guy with kids, and he’d been writing poetry for fun for the past 30-odd years. He’s still writing today, publishing a poem every Tuesday on issues ranging from texting to the Steelers to his own grandmother. He’s even added a phone number at the bottom of his column so fans and haters alike can give him a call. Fame hasn’t affected his style either, and his poems are as simple as ever:

Love is stronger than the wind
And it is stronger than the tide
And there is not a better feeling
Than that person by your side.

While it’s fair Nardozzi is no Walt Whitman, he’s become a local legend, and he believes he’s providing his community with a valuable service. When a reporter asked him why he writes poetry, Nardozzi replied, “I write them because in this crazy, corrupt, complicated, competitive world, I want people to know there’s still some innocence.”

Show Me The Proof

The poems of Billy Nardozzi
NPR: Billy Nardozzi: Pittsburgh Poet, Local Legend
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Heartfelt poetry makes for nice prose and cons

  • https://soundcloud.com/arjan-hut Arjan Hut

    Wonderful!

    • Hadeskabir

      See Arjan, you could learn a thing or two about poetry with this guy. xD

  • Nathaniel A.

    Does he still have the mullet?

    • lbatfish

      I was wondering what he looks like now, too. Below is the pic that accompanies his poems plus the only other pic where he looks like he’s close to his current age of 52. So yes — the mullet apparently isn’t limited to just re-runs of MacGyver. 🙂

      FWIW, there’s also some vids on YouTube of him performing as a musician at a much younger age, plus a long but very cool radio interview. Seems like a really nice guy.

      • Hadeskabir

        Lol at the American hair style.

        • ethan

          wtf?

          • Hadeskabir

            The mullet is essentially an American hair style, It’s ridiculous. I’m not trying to be offensive to Americans. My country had its share of similar ridiculous hair styles. I’m sorry if my comment seemed offensive, I assure you it was not my intention.

          • Jiminy Kricketts

            not so my friend. it originated out of the new romantic movement in england (london/birmingham) circa late 70s early 80s….just take a look at young gorgeous john taylor of duran duran. america, in its typical world domineering way, just made the hairstyle more prominent, fashionable and downright trendy. but if you really want to speak of something being ridiculous, then yes, put billy ray cyrus at the top of the list.

        • cornmayor

          Don’t be a fag.

          • Hadeskabir

            I wasn’t trying to be offensive, I swear.

          • cornmayor

            Nah it is pretty stupid.

  • Hillyard

    Great, very uplifting. So many people get well known (and for some reason popular) for being jerks. This guy write simple, good poetry. Once again, great.

  • EggOnNeon

    Don’t you LOVE a cult phenomenom.

    • ethan

      n*

      • EggOnNeon

        NoDk’d Y*

  • HowAnxious

    I like writing with simple rhymes sometimes and his poetry reminded me of one I wrote on my blog, inspired from Woody Guthrie.
    A very refreshing story. Innocence sounds great in today’s world.

  • las

    oh billie…you are so funny…..I laugh for 3 hours ,,,or maybe 4 or 5 hours after I read one of your little poems…..
    do you have rings on your toes like you have on your hands……..