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Allan Johnston

Born: in La Jolla, California
Pen Name: None

Connection to Illinois: Johnston lives in Evanston, Illinois and currently teaches writing and literature at DePaul University and Columbia College - both in Chicago.

Biography: Johnston has worked as a forest fire fighter, cook, musician, photographer, shake splitter, and roofer, among other occupations. He did his undergraduate studies in English at California State University, Northridge, and holds a Master's in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in American Literature, both from the University of California, Davis. Johnston has also done extensive course work in Education. He now teaches writing and literature in Chicago at DePaul University and Columbia College. He has been teaching at Columbia since 1998. As a poet, one of Johnston's passions has been to record impressions of wild areas such as the woods of eastern Washington and the Sierra Nevada. These efforts have resulted in three sequences: Northport,published by Finishing Line Press in 2010; Return, an eleven-poem sequence detailing a journey from Phoenix, Arizona, to Desolation Wilderness, and Range of Light. Poems from these sequences have appeared in Rhino, Weber Studies, Softblow, Jabberwock Review, Quarterly Review of Literature-Singapore, Poetry Midwest, and Art and Academe. Johnston has received a fellowship in poetry from the Illinois Arts Council, and has had work appear in Poetry, Poetry East, Midwest Quarterly, California Quarterly, and over fifty other journals. Besides writing poetry, Dr. Johnston writes about the relations between poetry and environmentalism, including studies of Robinson Jeffers, Kenneth Rexroth, and Gary Snyder that have appeared in ISLE, AUMLA, and the book Writing as Enlightenment, a volume on Buddhism in American culture from SUNY Press. His long poem Sable, on the life of Phillis Wheatley, told in her voice, was published in the Seattle Review. Johnston has published several scholarly articles in the areas of literary criticism and educational theory. He has served as president, vice president, and secretary of the Society for Philosophical Study of Education, and works on the editorial board of the online journal SPSE Roundtable. He is also co-editor of the Journal for the Philosophical Study of Education (JPSE). He serves as a reader of poetry for Word River and as a judge for the Illinois Center for the Book's Illinois Emerging Writers Competition - Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award.

  • -- Finalist Fellowship,Illinois Arts Council, 1999
  • -- Nominee, Pushcart Prize, 2009
  • -- First Prize, Outrider Press Literary Anthology Poetry Contest, 2010

Primary Literary Genre(s): Non-Fiction; Poetry

Primary Audience(s): Adult readers


Selected Titles

ISBN: 9781622299843 OCLC: 1028240899

Departures :
ISBN: 9781622292677 OCLC: 845055561

Finishing Line Press, Georgetown, KY. : ©2013.


In a Window
ISBN: 1947067249 OCLC:

Shanti Arts LLC 2018

These poems by the award-winning writer Allan Johnston speak to the seeming contradiction that awakening to the outside world reveals aspects of our interior selves. As such, the poems in the collection initially speak from an intimate stance but move to a more broadly reflective one, while developing an increasing connectedness to the natural world. In a Window is a collection of work written over fifteen to twenty years; it is a kind of retrospective. In the end, the poems circle back toward the West, in that the sequence "Return" and the poems around it reflect time spent in the Sierra Nevada in California, the author's native state.

Near Nothings
ISBN: 1956921192 OCLC:

Diálogos 2024

Allan Johnston is a translator of this work. Winner in 2021 of the prestigious Roger Kowalski poetry prize of the city of Lyons, Abdellatif Laâbi's collection Near Nothings (Presque riens) explores the implications of aging and mortality while reflecting on the state of the world and his early rebelliousness, including his years of imprisonment in Morocco. Laâbi asserts that he was saved by poetry, and suggests that poetry helps us to see the world., bringing consolation and awareness in the face of the approaching end. Laâbi is Morocco's best-known living poet and one of its most influential essayists and translators. Freed, now, after a term in political prison and living in Paris, at the age of 80 he is reflective, gently ironic, and flashing his provocative wit and his unflinching eye when today's news merits comparison to the "years of lead," which is unfortunately too often. Although he can now be counted as winner of the Prix Goncourt and the Grand Prix de La Francophonie, a poet who shares the stage with best-selling novelists, this recognition has been an uncertain journey, interrupted by his imprisonment for a decade for his work on the journal Souffles. Laâbi's fame, and his troubles, grew from the 1960s when he founded the infamous journal, published simultaneously in Arabic as Anfas. Laâbi was arrested for sedition in 1972, and there are numerous allusions to his imprisonment and torture in his work. It has now been forty-two years since Laâbi’s release from prison, but the passions of that memory and the disappointments of Arab Spring still shine a light both human and harsh on authoritarianism, and on the life that flowers again after the cruelest repression.

Northport :
ISBN: 1599245469 OCLC: 828532722

Finishing Line Press, Georgetown, Kent. : ©2010.


Sable and Selected Poems
ISBN: 195605653X OCLC:

Shanti Arts LLC 2022

This collection by the award-winning writer Allan Johnston includes "Sable," a lengthy discourse based on the life of Phillis Wheatley, a well-known poet of the eighteenth century and a slave in the household of John Wheatley, a prominent Boston businessman. Wheatley's poems were published and distributed widely to affirm that Blacks could be both artistic and intellectual. The remainder of the book includes poems from previous books and chapbooks, including Tasks of Survival, Northport, Departures, Contingencies, and In a Window. Arranged as they are, the poems in the collection initially speak from an intimate stance but move to a more broadly reflective one while developing an increasing connectedness to the natural world. The collection ends with the sequence "Return," and its poems reflect upon time spent in the Sierra Nevada in California, the author's native state.

  Tasks of Survival: Poems 1970-1990
ISBN: 0773400346 OCLC: 29467627

Mellen Poetry Press, Lewiston, N.Y. : ©1996.

The Symphony of Resistance: Selected Poems

Allan Johnston is a translator of this work by Abdellatif Laâbi is an internationally renowned poet and activist famous for his support of Arab liberation and unity. He has received numerous prestigious accolades, and his work has been translated into Arabic, Spanish, German, Italian, Dutch, Turkish, and English. His poetry has been central to post-colonial Moroccan literature and important to the development of Arabic literature generally. In the 1970s Laâbi served an eight-year prison sentence in Morocco for "crimes of opinion" against the Moroccan state after he helped found Souffles-Anfas (Breaths), a central journal in the growing movement of post-colonial Arab literature during the 1960s. Since the 1980s Laâbi has lived in France in forced exile. Laâbi's poems in The Symphony of Resistance address themes of human rights, the history of oppression in colonized countries, globalization, freedom, love, the Arab world after liberation, and the role of the poet. Given events pertaining to and resulting from the Arab Spring, this collection will appeal to readers interested in contemporary poetry, both in academia (students and scholars of North African literature, Middle East Studies, Francophone Studies, etc.) and beyond. The timely questions also have special resonance in the current American context, especially as concerns diversity and social justice.