Brianna Johnson

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“I come from whiteness, which is not innocent. If I speak of things which cause intense pain, it is because I have felt pain because of them. Not feeling would cause greater pain to the memory of those brutalized. I don’t condone evil, but I acknowledge it. I am here to acknowledge it.

I have been weak. I have been in terror. I hated that I could be weak. I hated that I could have a lineage of evil. I do not wish to appropriate the tragedy of others, only to tell the story of how some part of a tragedy was my lineage, that some part of evil was drawn in my family, that some very large part of female objectification, violence, mental illness, and death kept its pace with me. This is what I have come from. I am not going to lie as I continue to grieve.”
BRIANNA JOHNSON was a participant in the 2013 A Room of Her Own retreat. Her time there led her to found the Agua Viva Fellowship for a woman writer in recovery from alcohol and/or chemical dependency. In 2015, she was invited to act as a Waves Discussion Series contributor and lecturer alongside Maxine Hong Kingston. She has earned her BFA and MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College where she was mentored by, among others, Rebecca Brown, Douglas A. Martin, and Bhanu Kapil. Her work has been featured in Tarpaulin Sky Magazine and Spout Magazine.


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Essay Press is pleased to announce the two winners of the 2016 Essay Press Open Book Contest judged by Carla Harryman: Litany for the Long Moment by Mary-Kim Arnold and Of Sphere by Karla Kelsey, which will be published in Fall 2017.