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The School Newspaper of Lawrence High School.

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The School Newspaper of Lawrence High School.

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English teacher writes new book about poetry

Lydia Folks
Editing and revising, teacher Melissa Johnson works with a student to improve their essay.

“I’ll suffer through the poetry,” is exactly what went through Melissa Johnson’s head at the start of her creative writing class in college.

Now, she’s an AP Literature teacher and a two — soon to be three — time poetry book-published writer.

Johnson wrote poetry for fun and in journals until she decided to publish some of her poems. Her first book, “While the kettles on,” is a Nelson Poetry Book award winner, and it wasn’t even her idea to have it published.

“My first book was actually published by that high school teacher of mine who made me want to be an English teacher,” Johnson said. “It changed my life, them doing that, I honestly don’t think it ever would have occurred to me to enter this world.”

Now, Johnson is set to release her third book, “Midlife Abecedarian,” in April. The title of her book has a meaningful backstory.

“The midlife is because I am in midlife. It’s just time to accept that,” Johnson said. “And Abecedarian is the name of my favorite poetic form, which is a 26 line poem and each line is the next letter of the alphabet.”

Johnson’s favorite poem in the book, “How dare anyone say I don’t know love” is rooted in the societal pressure surrounding women to have kids.

“It’s kind of a love poem to my husband, but it’s specifically about the fact that we’ve chosen not to have kids, and how often I’ve gotten some version of somebody telling me that they feel bad for me because I don’t know what real love is because when they knew love they looked in to their child’s eyes,” Johnson said. “And we’re quite fulfilled. We don’t really feel like anything’s missing.”

When “Midlife Abecedarian” is released, Johnson plans to promote it at the Raven Bookstore.

“I’ll definitely have a book launch, I’ll have readings at The Raven, and I’m hoping to get other readings, too,” Johnson said. “It’ll be very fun and exciting.”

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About the Contributors
Delaney Haase
Delaney Haase, Reporter
I'm a second year writer and reporter on the journalism staff. In my free time, you'll usually find me at softball practice, singing, acting, and hanging out with my friends.
Lydia Folks
Lydia Folks, Photo Editor
I'm a second year photographer on staff. This year I am taking on the role of photo editor of When I am not taking pictures I am playing softball or participating in 4-H.

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