Samford English professor and poet Bryan Johnson was named a finalist for the prestigious Walt Whitman Award presented annually by the Academy of American Poets. He was one of 26 finalists out of more than 1,000 entries.
English department chair Nancy Whitt described his selection as "a huge honor,"saying, "It's an affirmation from the best of his peers."
Dr. Johnson said his work is classified as ekphrastic' poetry based on academic research rather than romantic thought. He said he never wrote poetry until he was in graduate school at Mississippi State. He took a course in fiction and his professor said his prose was actually poetry.
Johnson holds the Ph.D. in creative writing from the University of Denver, home of the nation's oldest creative writing school. He has been published in the Denver Quarterly, New American Writing, American Letters & Commentary, Western Humanities Review and the Paris Review, among others.
The Walt Whitman finalist honor opens new possibilities for Johnson. The Whitman winner, announced in May, will enjoy a first-book publication by Louisiana State University, a cash prize and a one-month residency at Vermont Studio Center, the largest artists' and writers' residency program in the U.S.
Johnson, who earned his B.A. and M.A. degrees at Mississippi State, has been a Samford faculty member since 1999.