Kent Johnson is a poet and critic and translator of contemporary poetry.
Johnson has been an English and Spanish instructor at Highland Community College in Freeport, Illinois, since 1992. He is married and has two sons. He received his B.A. and M.A. from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, and his Ph.D. from Bowling Green State University.
His poetry and translation work have been the subject of both considerable controversy and praise. Dozens of critical pieces have focused on his work, and an anthology of essays has recently been published on the Araki Yasusada “affair,” a much debated topic in the poetry world since the mid-1990s, and a work for which Johnson (though he has never asserted authorship) is frequently ascribed responsibility.
Johnson has been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship and two PEN Translation Awards from PEN American Center, for his two-volume translation, with poet Forrest Gander, and the Bolivian writer Jaime Saenz.
In 2005, Johnson was named Illinois' annual “Outstanding Faculty Member” by the Illinois Community College Trustees Association.
Johnson is also the recipient of a Pushcart Book of the Month Award, an Illinois Arts Council Poetry Award, and a Times Literary Supplement “Books of the Year” highlight (2011), for his A Question Mark above the Sun: Documents on the Mystery of a Famous Poem “By” Frank O’Hara (Punch Press, 2010). In 1980 and 1983, during the Sandinista Revolution, he worked in the Nicaraguan countryside for many months, teaching basic literacy and adult education. A translation of Saenz's work, The Night, was published by Princeton University Press in 2008, and received a Translation Award from PEN.
- A Question Mark Above the Sun:Documents on the Mystery Surrounding a Famous Poem "By" Frank O'Hara. Starcherone Books. 2012. ISBN 9780983740551.
- Homage to the Last Avant-Garde. Shearsman. 2008. ISBN 9781905700950.
- Day. BlazeVOX. 2009.
- Doggerel for the Masses: A Post-Scandal BlazeVOX Booke. BlazeVox. 2011. ISBN 978-1609640842.
- Saenz, Jamie (2007). The Night (with Forrest Gander). Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691124834.
- "César Vallejo- the "lost" interview".
- "Interview with Kent Johnson". The Argotist Online.
- "Hoaxes and Heteronymity: An Interview with Kent Johnson". Vert.
- "C.D. Wright Interview with Kent Johnson for Jacket". Jacket 15. December 2001.
- "Waiting for the Ultimate Snuff Flick". Read Me. Fall 1999.
- "Eliot Weinberger in conversation with Kent Johnson". Jacket 16. March 2002.