Arnold (Arnie) Johnston

Poet, Fiction Writer

471 West South Street, #102
Kalamazoo, MI 49007
(269) 870-0703

Author's Bio

Arnold Johnston lives in Kalamazoo and South Haven, MI. His poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and translations have appeared widely in literary journals and anthologies. His novel Swept Away appeared in 2021 from Atmosphere Press; and a full-length poetry collection, Where We're Going, Where We've Been appeared in 2020 from FutureCycle Press.  His books include two poetry chapbooks—Sonnets: Signs and Portents and What the Earth Taught Us—The Witching Voice: A Play about Robert Burns; Of Earth and Darkness: The Novels of William Golding; and The Witching Voice: A Novel from the Life of Robert Burns. His translations of Jacques Brel’s songs have appeared in numerous musical revues nationwide (including acclaimed Chicago productions Jacques Brel: Songs of Love and War and Jacques Brel’s Lonesome Losers of the Night), and are also featured on his CD, Jacques Brel: I’m Here! His plays, and others written in collaboration with his wife, Deborah Ann Percy, have won awards, production, and publication across the country. Their individually and collaboratively written plays have won some 300 productions, as well as numerous awards and publications across the country and internationally; and they’ve written, co-written, edited, or translated nearly twenty books. From 2009-2012 they were joint Arts and Entertainment columnists for the award-winning national quarterly journal Phi Kappa Phi Forum. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild, The Playwrights’ Center, Poets & Writers, the Associated Writing Programs, and the American Literary Translators Association. He was chairman of the English Department (1997-2007) and taught creative writing for many years at Western Michigan University, where he co-founded the creative writing program and founded the playwriting program. He is now a full-time writer.

Publications & Prizes


Swept Away (Atmosphere Press, 2021)
The Witching Voice: A Novel from the Life of Robert Burns (Wings Press, 2018)
Alabama Literary Review
Colorado Quarterly
Cumberland Poetry Review
Eclectic Literary Forum
Fan Magazine
Hiram Poetry Review
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Midwest Quarterly
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Poems & Plays
Rockford Review
Stone Country
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FEAST: Poetry and Recipes for a Full Seating at Dinner (Black Lawrence Press, 2014)
New Voices: An Anthology of Michigan Poets (Wayne State University Press, 2000)
Third Coast (Wayne State University Press, 2000)
The Infernal Now (Kelsay Books, 2022)
Where We're Going, Where We've Been (FutureCycle Press, 2020)
Sonnets: Signs & Portents (Finishing Line Press, 2013)
What the Earth Taught Us (March Street Press, 1996)
Sonnets: Signs and Portents (Finishing Line Press, 2014)
Journals: ,
Phi Kappa Phi Forum
The Weathervane: A Journal of Great Lakews Writing
Prizes won: 

Winner for "Come Rain or Come Shine," 2019 New Plays from the Heartland Competition, Heartland Theatre, Bloomington-Normal, IL; Publication & Production Award for "Scattered Shower," 2019 Stage It! 10-Minute Play Festival, Center for the Performing Arts, Bonita Springs, FL; First Prize for "A Pet of Temperance," 2019 Summer Shorts Festival, Town & Gown Players, Stillwater, OK; Laureate's Prize for "Pusillanimous Poem," 2019 Maria W. Faust Sonnet Competition; First Prize for "Giving Up the Ghosts," 2018 New Play Competition, Pennsylvania Playhouse, Bethlehem, PA; First Prize for "Steering into the Skid," 2018 Summer Shorts Festival, Town & Gown Players, Stillwater, OK; Laureate's Prize for "Bookworm: A Fragment," 2018 Matia W. Faust Sonnet Competition; First Prize for Poetry for “Pantoum: Where We’re Going, Where We’ve Been,” 2016 Arkansas Science Festival Science Slam; First Prize for “The Great Reviser” (2016 Spring Poetry Competition), Phi Kappa Phi Forum; Third Prize for "Candy Kisses," 2014 One-Act Competition, St. Croix Festival Theatre, St. Croix Falls, WI; Finalist, "Candy Kisses," 2019 Pittsburgh New Works Festival, Pittsburgh, PA; Finalist, "Candy Kisses," 2014 Drama Prize, Arts & Letters Journal, Milledgeville, GA; Bronze Medal for "The MemoryCare Plays," 2014 Independent Publisher Awards, New York City; First Prize ($1,500), MemoryCare One-Act Competition, 2013, for "Steering into the Skid" (one-act play); Runner-Up for "The Poet Takes a Good Look at Himself," Phi Kappa Phi Forum 2012 Summer Poetry Competition; Winner, Phi Kappa Phi Forum Summer 2009 Poetry Competition, for “What's Underneath”; Finalist, 2009 Publication Prize, Snake Nation Press, for Spectators As We Are (poetry collection)

Personal Favorites

What I'm reading now: 
Bring Up the Bodies by Hillary Mantel, The Night Manager by John Le Carre, The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

More Information

Gives readings: 
Travels for readings: 
Identifies as: 
Scotch-Irish American
Prefers to work with: 
Fluent in: 
Born in: 
Cambuslang, LKS
United Kingdom
Raised in: 
Detroit, MI
Please note: All information in the Directory is provided by the listed writers or their representatives.
Last update: Oct 10, 2021