Leslie Johnson’s fiction has been broadcast on NPR and published in over thirty journals and magazines, including The Threepenny Review, Glimmer Train, Colorado Review, Third Coast, december, and Cimarron Review. Winner of the 2017 Pushcart Prize, her work appears in the recent “best of Pushcart prose” anthology, Love Stories for Turbulent Times (Pushcart Press, January, 2018). Her recently completed first novel,
Here By Me, is represented by Julie Stevenson of Massie & McQuilkin.
Leslie holds an MFA from the University of Arizona and now teaches at the University of Hartford. The recipient of two individual artist grants from the Connecticut Office of the Arts, Leslie also works as a teaching artist, leading workshops and residencies at schools, libraries, and museums. She lives with her husband, the poet Bruce Cohen, in rural Connecticut; they have three wonderful sons.
AUTHOR & TEACHING ARTIST
Massie & McQuilkin
27 West 20th Street
New York, NY 10011
Click here to contact Leslie Johnson directly
for information about speaking engagements, writing workshops, residencies, and other programs.
WOODMONT WELCOMES YOU
Suddenly the teenage girls of Woodmont were pregnant.
Sandy Stickles counted off on her fingers six names – all Woodmont High girls – to Paula as they speed-walked around the Community Park track as they did every Sunday morning.
Keera closes her eyes and then opens them because if she doesn’t close her eyes first they won’t, Mom won’t, come. When she opens her eyes she always pokes a piece of her own body, like her leg or her bellybutton under her PJ shirt, to prove she’s awake because Grandma says Keera’s sleeping when she sees the people at night. But she’s not. She’s awake.
SOME OTHER SIDE
Yesterday I attended my grandson’s “Baby Is Brewing” party at a new beer garden in St. Paul, where male and female guests of all ages were invited to drop a pack of diapers by the bar before sampling IPAs and oatmeal stouts.
The Flexible Persona
On Sunday morning Bethany’s father called to tell her he was getting married. She saw his number on her cell, ringing on her bedside table, and assumed something must be terribly wrong; she sat up in bed, preparing herself.
At the age of thirty-eight, Bethany started piano lessons. She’d won a month of free half-hour lessons at a holiday fundraiser for the Community School of the Arts.
I RUN INTO YOU
When I run into you at the Guggenheim, I can’t believe it. I haven’t thought of you in forever. Years. I’m forty-six years old, which means you are, too, because our birthdays are two days apart. I still remember that.
NEXT HALF CENTURY
Nan reaches under the seat where she's stowed her purse, lifts it to the lap of her new micro-fiber pants, guaranteed by Travelsmith catalogue not to crease even worn for hours on a cramped plane.
Midmorning in mid-October, in the middle of the campus, Chandra stopped in the center of the crisscrossing sidewalks.
You can see the giant sign looming in the air from the interstate by the exit for Sturbridge, Massachusettes - a huge plastic pie the size of a satellite dish with one piece missing so its simulated apple filling shows.
Thanksgiving had always been their holiday. Bethany and her father. As a kid she used to spend two weeks with him every summer and then Thanksgiving.
IT'S JUST A PARTY
You came! You made it! No, of course not, don’t be silly. Better late than never, right? Isn’t that what they say? That’s what I say. Better late than never.
South Carolina Review
When the phone rings at 12:37 at night, Lori's heart squeezes and simultaneously her mind forms the words what no no it's nothing oh god it's something...
JUST WHEN I THINK I'M STARTING TO LEAVE
I had my jacket on and zipped. I was wearing my burgundy parka, the same one I’d had since middle school, seventh grade, and it still fit me fine nine years later, and it looked about the same, too.
The Writing Disorder
BIGGER THAN YOU
To enter Washington Street Elementary School, Dave has to press a button outside the opaque double-doors, then stand on a red line in front of a security camera and wait for the door on the left to go “click.”
A COMMON THING
I was a newlywed, a pregnant teenage bride. This was years ago, in Blue Earth, Minnesota, and in the opinion of my mother-in-law, I had ruined her only son's life.
The guest book sits on a pedestal in the funeral home lobby. Dean signs it, then flips the pages backward to see who else has come before him. He recognizes no one.
Leslie Johnson teaches writing and literature at the University of Hartford, where she has won awards for sustained excellence in teaching (2011) and creative scholarship (2013).
In addition, Leslie is passionate about her work as a Teaching Artist, providing workshops and residencies for students of all ages, as well as professional development seminars for educators about arts-integration strategies.
For younger students (K-8), Leslie specializes in lively, arts-infused residencies (short and long-term) that foster creativity while developing literacy skills; for teens, college students and adults, Leslie leads writing workshops that inspire and challenge participants within a supportive atmosphere.
Leslie is highly experienced as a Teaching Artist for the CT Office of the Arts (Arts in Education Department); an Arts Provider and Arts Leader for the Hartford Performs organization; a workshop leader for the Mark Twain House; and a professional development presenter trained by the Kennedy Center.
For more information about Leslie’s programs or to schedule a workshop or residency, please click here.
Leslie’s new creative nonfiction essay, “Wonderful World,” will be published in a special issue of the Adana Literary Journal focusing on women’s experiences during the coronavirus pandemic. Look for the issue in Fall 2020.
Leslie was awarded a competitive 2020 Artist Respond Grant to develop new, socially responsive art during the pandemic. Leslie developed and distributed to CT schools creative writing enrichment materials to be used by teachers, parents, and students during distance learning. Interested educators or parents can contact Leslie to receive the materials.
BEST OF PUSHCART PRESS ANTHOLOGY
Leslie’s story “Midterm,” originally published in Colorado Review and winner of the 2017 Pushcart Prize, appears in the anthology Love Stories for Turbulent Times: Loving through the Apocalypse (Genie D. Chipps and Bill Henderson, editors, Pushcart Press, January, 2018), a collection of the best prose from the past decades of the Pushcart Prize (available on Amazon and Barnes & Nobles.com).
“Selected from hundreds of Pushcart Prize winners, twenty-five brilliant writers - including Charles Baxter, Karen Russell, Charles Johnson, and Donald Hall - tell their contemporary love tales, both fiction and nonfiction, in often unsparing ways. In some there is a joyous celebration of love, in others the game is perplexing, but always fascinating.”
WRITING AND MUSIC WORKSHOPS
"Poetry of the Gardens”: A Nature Writing Workshop at the Litchfield Historical Society.
Date: Monday, September 14th (rain date September 21st ).
Leslie joins Teaching Artist and musician Thomsina Levy in leading a special program funded by the Connecticut Office of the arts. After listening to nature-themed poems and a musical performance, participants will create original poems inspired by the sights and sounds of the beautiful gardens of the historical society’s Tapping Reeve Meadow. This is an outdoor, socially distanced event following all Covid-19 precautions. Register today by calling the Litchfield Historical Society at 860-567-4501 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Creative Spirit Workshops”
New! Leslie and musician Thomasina Levy now offer Creative Spirit workshops combining music and poetry in an uplifting, participation-based experience. “Over the years I have attended many writing workshops, and I have to tell you that yours was one of the most inspiring and transformative” – Alisa P., recent Creative Spirit workshop participant.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, these workshops are available in person in outdoor spaces and online. Contact Leslie directly for information about scheduling a Creative Spirit workshop.