Headshot of Brent Johnson

Brent Johnson, MFA

Associate Professor & First-Year Experience Program Director
(503) 352-3035
UC Box 
Abigail Scott Duniway House 203


Master of Fine Arts, University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho

Bachelor of Arts, DePauw University, Greencastle, Ind.

Recent Publications

2006 "The Peridodical Cicada,"  The Appalachian Review

2004 "Tying Flies Drunk," Gray's Sporting Journal

2003 "The Pink Body of Pigs," Midwestern Review

2002 "Grounds," Ascent

2002 "Flinging Dreams," RiverTeeth

2001 "Descutes River Confessional," Yale Anglers' Journal

Why I Write & Teach

In fourth grade, I won an essay writing contest on what my town would look in the far off future, and hometown girl and country music star, Dolly Parton, presented me the award along with a kiss on the cheek (I didn't wash my face for a week). From that day on, I was sure writing promised accolades and famous, adoring women. Of course, I've realized since that writing promises nothing of the sort, particularly such winnings of vanity, and that my prize now is working with the slow tools of language and image in hopes of making something useful through story and poem.

The first time I knew I wanted to be a teacher was in my senior year as an undergraduate watching my professors standing outside their offices in the hallway, discussing something "intellectual." With the looming end of my own studies one month away, I already feared a life absent of learning--I knew at that moment I always wanted to be involved with academia and thinking and writing. This is my fourth year at Pacific and I teach because it, and my students, help keep that finger on the pulse of what seems to really matter: using our minds to enrich and improve our lives.

Special Interests of study: I've recently been extremely interested in surburban design and how it affects our culture and environment. The more I see a disconnect and disharmony in our outer landscapes, the more I believe their impact on our inner landscapes is real. More concretely, I'm currently working on a chapbook of poetry on flyfishing.

When I'm not being "Professional"

My time off campus is spent with my wife and two sons. Every now and then, I sneak away for a long bike ride, or a weekend casting my fly line for trout.

Currently, I'm very excited about taking twenty-eight students to Spain in summer for a study abroad course. We'll be tracking down Ernest Hemingway's old haunts and Don Quixote's imaginary windmills in the sunbaked landscape outside of Madrid.


A Short Poem Everyone Must Read before they die by Carl Sandburg:

I asked the professors who teach the meaning of life to tell
     me what is happiness.
And I went to famous executives who boss the work of
     thousands of men.
They all shook their heads and gave me a smile as though
     I was trying to fool with them
And then one Sunday afternoon I wandered out along
     the Desplaines river
And I saw a crowd of Hungarians under the trees with
     their women and children and a keg of beer and an


Anis Mojgani Leaning Against Wall, Wearing Winter Coat

Anis Mojgani, the 10th poet laureate of Oregon, brings his dynamic combination of poetry and visual art to Pacific University's Forest Grove Campus for the 2024 Whiteley Distinguished Lecture on Thursday, Feb. 15.

Cover of Map-Maker by Kwame Dawes

Shella Parcarey MFA '24 Awarded Spring 2024 Mapmakers Teaching Assistantship

Have you written anything for class you're proud of in 2023? Submit your writing to the Pacific Literary Undergraduate Magazine (PLUM) by Dec. 15, for a chance to win up to $125! This contest is open to all students.

Sanjiv Bhattacharya, Angela Wang, & Bernard Cooper

On Oct. 25, the Master of Fine Arts in Writing presented the fall Mapmakers Alumni Institute, "The Human in Humor," featuring Sanjiv Bhattacharya, Bernard Cooper, and Kwame Dawes Mapmakers Scholar Angela Wang MFA '23 (Nonfiction). 

The Pacific University MFA in Writing welcomes Kimberly King Parsons to the January residency.