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Fellowship recipient Jessica Johnson

Jessica Johnson is a 2009 Oregon Literary Fellowship recipient for the Womens Writers Fellowship. Her poems and reviews have appeared in The New Republic, Prairie Schooner, the Paris Review, Burnside Review, Subtropics, Kenyon Review Online and elsewhere. Her work can also be seen on Verse Daily. She lives in Portland.

Judge Joanna Klink had this to say about Jessica’s work:

“Johnson’s poems, full of quiet and gracious observation, are acts of kinship-in-strangeness with the natural world. They fathom the ocean (the sea is never far) and show a deep awareness of the body’s waves—everything that, washing up into the mind and drawing back, they leave exposed. Johnson awakens in us that blood harmony that moves through herring and jellyfish, light-keepers and families and landmasses, children who harbor inside their intuitive bodies entire “maps of depth.” Even the slightest creatures are alive with vision: barnacles, those “tiny onlookers,” are “both oculus and dome,” crickets “furious vibrations in the grass.” Drawing on her background in cell and molecular biology, Johnson listens to the world as it calls out steadily to us.”

We asked Jessica some questions:

What are you working on currently?

A book of poems and an essay or two.

Do you have a writing schedule?
Yes. I write for about 90 minutes very early on most weekday
mornings, then for most of one weekend day. If I don’t get a good
start before 7:00 a.m., it’s probably not going to happen.

What inspires you?
Aquariums; overheard phrases; outdated textbooks; hatcheries;mid-century Italian films; industrial artifacts; swimming; museums; stuff that washes up on beaches; uncluttered white formica; botanical gardens; anatomical drawings; art installations; my friends’ poems.

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