Melissa Johnson grew up in Lancaster, SC where she ate a lot of tomato sandwiches, fried okra, and watermelon fresh from her family’s small farm and big garden.

A first-generation college student, she earned a B.A. in English and Fine Arts from the College of Charleston, and an MFA in poetry and a Ph.D. in twentieth-century British literature and Women’s Studies from the University of South Carolina.  She was a faculty member at Newberry College and Virginia Commonwealth University where she taught courses in literature, creative writing, and composition as well as a first-year seminar.  At VCU, she served as Curriculum and Textbook Coordinator for five years and as Department Chair for seven years and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2014 and Professor in 2020.  She is currently an Associate Vice Provost and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education at Penn State University. 

Melissa’s poetry has appeared in Borderlands, Waccamaw, Kakalak, The Connecticut Review, Farmer’s Market, The Potomac Review, The Cortland Review, NELLE and other journals. Her poetry chapbook, Looking Twice at the World, pictured below, was a winner of the 2007 South Carolina Poetry Initiative Chapbook Contest and was published by Stepping Stones Press (out of print).  In 2016, she was a contributor at the Sewanee Writer’s Conference where she workshopped her second poetry chapbook, Cancer Voodoo. Cancer Voodoo was published by Diode Editions in March of 2022 and can be ordered here.  Melissa also publishes scholarly work on literature, cultural studies, teaching and learning, and higher education.