Roxane Beth Johnson
Of African American and Italian heritage, Johnson has said that her early literary influences were the Bible and church hymns; later influences include the poets Anne Sexton, Wallace Stevens, and Rainer Maria Rilke. Jubilee paints a devastating portrait of Johnson’s family and childhood, often employing child speakers to articulate unsayable truths. In awarding the prize, Philip Levine commented: “These luminous poems depict a world I never knew—or knew as a child and since forgot—and they do so with the authority of a totally mature voice. The artistry that unifies this collection is so perfect it is almost invisible. Altogether an amazing debut.”
Johnson has won an AWP Prize in Poetry and a Pushcart Prize, 2007. She has received scholarships/fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, Cave Canem, The Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and San Francisco Arts Commission. Johnson's work has appeared in the Georgia Review, Prairie Schooner, Image, Callaloo, Beloit Poetry Journal, ZYZZYVA, Chelsea, and elsewhere.