Past Issue: Amanda Johnston


Spring 2022 | Amanda Johnston | Vol. 5, Iss. 3

Welcome to The Fight & The Fiddle, a publication of the Furious Flower Poetry Center at James Madison University. Each issue gives you a 360-degree view of a Black poet, including an interview, new poems, a critical essay, and a writing prompt inspired by our featured poet. 

&Poet, activist and arts administrator Amanda Johnston is founder of Torch Literary Arts, a non-profit dedicated to promoting and publishing the work of Black women writers, co-founder of Black Poets Speak Out, and former board president and retreat coordinator of Cave Canem. Johnston’s writing has been widely published in journals and anthologies such as CallalooPoetry, Furious Flower: Seeding the Future of African American Poetry, and Women of Resistance: Poems for a New Feminism. She is author of the poetry collection, Another Way to Say Enter (Argus House Press, 2017), and serves as poetry faculty at the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA program.

    • The Interview: Amanda Johnston talks with Editor-in-Chief, Lauren K. Alleyne about her non-traditional path through the poetry world, and what it means to build a life in poetry and of service to its community

    • Critical Essay: Dr. Laura Vrana positions Johnston as a poetic descendant of Gwendolyn Brooks, citing formal innovation, community engagement and a poetics of motherhood.

    • Poems: Excerpted from Johnston’s manuscript-in-progress, Active Threat, the poems by Amanda Johnston published in this issue refer to the Austin serial bombings that occurred between March 2 and March 22, 2018, in Central Texas. Five package bombs exploded, killing two people, and injuring another five. The initial attacks were in predominately Black and Brown neighborhoods. Law enforcement was slow to identify the attacks as racially motivated domestic terrorism. This split the community as to whether there was a larger active threat or if these were isolated incidents. Read It Begins,” “How Do I Explain,” “Two Americasanduntitled.
    • Writing Prompt: Follow in Johnston’s footsteps and write a genesis or create a hybrid form of your own! 
Amanda Johnston reads “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished”

Photo by Sarah Mlcoch
Cover Design by Robert Mott