Posted by William Nunnelley on 2007-03-21

Samford English professor and poet Bryan Johnson was named a finalist for the prestigious Walt Whitman Award presented annually by the Academy of American Poets. He was one of 26 finalists out of more than 1,000 entries.

English department chair Nancy Whitt described his selection as "a huge honor,"saying, "It's an affirmation from the best of his peers."

Dr. Johnson said his work is classified as ekphrastic' poetry based on academic research rather than romantic thought. He said he never wrote poetry until he was in graduate school at Mississippi State. He took a course in fiction and his professor said his prose was actually poetry.

Johnson holds the Ph.D. in creative writing from the University of Denver, home of the nation's oldest creative writing school. He has been published in the Denver Quarterly, New American Writing, American Letters & Commentary, Western Humanities Review and the Paris Review, among others.

The Walt Whitman finalist honor opens new possibilities for Johnson. The Whitman winner, announced in May, will enjoy a first-book publication by Louisiana State University, a cash prize and a one-month residency at Vermont Studio Center, the largest artists' and writers' residency program in the U.S.

Johnson, who earned his B.A. and M.A. degrees at Mississippi State, has been a Samford faculty member since 1999.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.