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Montgomery College Excalibur

The Student News Site of Montgomery College

Montgomery College Excalibur

The Student News Site of Montgomery College

Montgomery College Excalibur

Award-Winning Local Poet Speaks at MC

MC hosted a multi-award-winning poet in the English and Reading Discipline Speaker Series early this semester.

A local poet Taylor Johnson joined the list of distinguished presenters in the English and Reading Discipline Speaker Series. He shared his poetry and thoughts at the Commons building at the TPSS Montgomery College campus on Feb. 29.

Taylor Johnson speaks to an audience of college students and faculty at an afternoon speakers’ event. (Photo credit, Kyle Farmer)

Johnson, a native Washingtonian and a Poet Laureate of Takoma Maryland, has won numerous awards including the Larry Neal Writer award, Norma Farber-First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America, and Judith A. Markowitz Award for Emerging Writers from Lambda.

He said, “I don’t really know who inspired this in me, but I would say that growing up I was lucky enough to be growing up in this area, around a lot of black poets who were, you know, of course about poetry, about language, about having good poems, but also about social action and also about community.”

Famed author and poet Larry Neal was honored with an award in his name. This award has been given to gifted writers and poets for 30 years, and it was the first award Johnson received.

“Larry Neal was such an important poet to the DC area. And to receive an award named in his honor was pretty cool, and it was also the first, I think, the first award I received for my writing,” Johnson said.

Esther Schwartz-McKinzie, an English Coordinator at Takoma Park/Silver Spring (TPSS) Montgomery College Campus organized this speaker event.

“Poetry is unique in its ability to generate empathetic connection—this is something we need more of,” said Schwartz-McKinzie.

The audience shares laughter after a comment made by Taylor Johnson. (Photo credit, Kyle Farmer)

Johnson shared his work and his thoughts on poetry to a classroom of aspiring writers and poets.

Schwartz-McKinzie said she organized the event because she wanted people to “leave the room with a slightly different perspective than when they walked in and to be inspired to take advantage of more opportunities to learn and grow outside of the classroom.”

The first Sunday of every month Johnson hosts a reading series at the bookstore People’s Book in Takoma Park. He gets 35-75 people coming out for poetry on Sundays.

“Yeah, it’s great. People are super excited about it and very interested,” he said.

Johnson also said “I feel like what I am primarily interested in is creating a certain kind of quality of sound, that people can live in.”

Taylor Johnson shares stories behind his writing on Feb 29, 2024, in Catherine Scott F. Commons, room 211. (Photo credit, Kyle Farmer)

Johnson read a line from his poetry:

“I trust in the givenness of things. I trust in the wind and the ache in my knee.
For it is thy hum at my center, O Witness, that breathes me.”

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Kyle Farmer
Kyle Farmer, Staff Writer
Kyle Farmer Jr. joined the Excalibur as a staff writer in the fall of 2023.

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