Donna Johnson is a daughter of the south. She was raised in Tennessee and spent summers visiting extended family in Texas. Her poetry intertwines her rural southern roots with provocative themes that engage readers regardless of their backgrounds.
Through her poems Ms. Johnson tries to bring to life voices from her past, remnants of private thoughts and public storytelling. As the country trends towards a more homogenized culture, the characters inhabiting these poems may sound quaint and humorous, but just as often, curious and disturbing.
Ms. Johnson’s poetry seeks to explore themes of loss, betrayal and redemption, both through the personal lyric and by the recasting the experiences of characters from myths, fables, and the Bible – Cinderella, Cassandra, John the Baptist, Lazarus and the Celtic heroine, Branwen.
A self-proclaimed poetry geek (she asked for the Norton Anthology of Poetry for Christmas as a teenager), Ms. Johnson began trying to write poetry in earnest in her early thirties, studying in a university setting as well as in private workshops.
Her poems and reviews have been published in Birmingham Poetry Review, Blue Unicorn, Café Review, Green Mountains Review, Ibbetson Street, Marco Polo, Perihelion, Tulane Review, Two Rivers Review, and others.
Her first full-length collection of poetry, Selvage, was released in February 2013 by Carnegie Mellon Press .
In 2010, Ms. Johnson won Cutbank magazine’s annual poetry contest and was a finalist for the Patricia Dobler Award. Previously, she won the Tulane Review spring contest and the University of Nevada's annual Black Rock Press Broadside Competition. The Massachusetts Cultural Council awarded her a Professional Development Grant in 2000.
She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Georgia and has an M.A. in Psychology from the University of Connecticut. She is a founding member of the Concord Poetry Center and served as administrator of Del Sol Press’ Poetry Prize for three years. She also worked as an assistant editor at Winning Writers for several years.Ms. Johnson now lives outside Boston and enjoys spending time with her husband, two daughters, and granddaughter. She currently works in the educational publishing field.
Donna Johnson djohnsonpoet.com
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