Marilyn Johnston

Writer, Workshop Facilitator, Filmmaker

Welcome to my website. Through my writing I aim to create a better understanding of the world and our place in it — a mission which has cast me in many different roles:

author, writing workshop facilitator, filmmaker, and working with returning vets and at-risk youth to recover from war, regardless of the different battles they've fought.

Please send me a message on the link at the end of this website if you wish to purchase my latest book, discuss a future writing workshop I can help facilitate, or get a suggested "prompt" to write your own truths!

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Marilyn Johnston

​Marilyn was the recipient of the Robert Penn Warren Award and the Donna J. Stone National Literary Award for her poetry, as well as fellowships from the Oregon Literary Arts and the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund for Women and Artists, and was selected as a Fishtrap Fellow.  Her short documentary, "My Mother was a Coast Guard SPAR", was screened in film festivals in Toronto, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC.  

Her chapbook of poems, Red Dust Rising (The Habit of Rainy Nights Press, 2004) was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.  Her newest collection, Before Igniting, was published in February 2020, by Rippling Brook Press.

Marilyn has facilitated writing workshops in Oregon, Vermont and Madrid, Spain for adults and K-12 students, as well as for returning veterans and incarcerated youth.  Her writing has been published in over 60 literary journals and anthologies.  She holds a Doctorate in Education from Oregon State University. 


"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you."

Maya Angelou


Before Igniting

Rippling Brook Press, 2020

“In the title poem of Before Igniting the poet’s husband is about to light a backyard bonfire, but the world of this book has been on fire for generations — the American war in Vietnam, the Holocaust, racial injustice, homelessness.  Marilyn Johnston writes about these through a perceptive and very personal lens and still offers hope and beauty as she helps youth in crisis and veterans returning from war make sense of their world through their own poems.”   Penelope Scambly Schott, recipient of the 2008 Oregon Book Award for Poetry and author of Lovesong for Dufur

Before Igniting reflects the true nature of emotions that bind us together.  These poems point a candid finger at the inhumanity that burdens us, as well as the joys that elevate us to seek the higher purpose of love, community and family.”   Ronald Montgomery, author of Let’s Heal STL— Ferguson Messages in Poetry and Paint 

Price: $15.00, plus $4.99 shipping (as needed). All proceeds to go toward writing projects with at-risk youth. Payment can be made via QuickPay with Zelle®, Venmo, check or cash.  



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