Laura Johnson was born and grew up in the Midwest. She grew up with two sisters, music, books, and lots of peanut butter sandwiches. She attended the University of Iowa where, in the mid-1980’s, she planned to become a spy. To that end, she studied Russian language and linguistics, as well as history and political science, earning her BA. Upon being awarded a Ford Foundation Fellowship for the Teaching of Less-Commonly Taught languages, she went on to earn an MA from Iowa, as well.  During that time, she also attended the Pushkin Institute in Moscow, Russia where she wrote her Master’s thesis on using games to teach language, and she earned a diploma in pedagogy.

During the next 25 years, Laura:

  • was married
  • had three children
  • taught high school and college Russian
  • had too many dogs to count
  • lived in Iowa, Illinois, and Georgia
  • designed and taught creative writing and advanced creative writing courses
  • wrote and received numerous grants for teaching innovation
  • had ducks and chickens
  • created and facilitated writing workshops for adults and teens
  • lived in Riga, Latvia
  • drank some whiskey

  • cooked a lot of holiday dinners for mostly appreciative diners
  • spent hours and hours at the gym
  • directed high school plays
  • had one long-lost love
  • wrote and performed occasional poems
  • designed and taught a women’s literature and issues course
  • graded thousands of essays, poems, and short stories
  • was named STAR teacher three times
  • learned to drive a four-wheeler and a tractor

After moving back to Iowa after fourteen years in the Deep South, Laura devoted herself to poetry, writing, and creating spaces for writers of all kinds to grow their experiences and get published. She has facilitated numerous writing groups for adult poets and writers in all genres. Mostly currently, she facilitates the Cedar Rapids Writers’ Workshop. Along with two compatriots, Laura co-founded and co-edits the online literary magazine, Backchannels Journal.