Marissa Johnson-Valenzuela

5 Feb 2021


Marissa Johnson-Valenzuela, 2020 Pew Fellow. Photo by Pew Fellow Rashid Zakat.


Marissa Johnson-Valenzuela, 2020 Pew Fellow. Photo by Pew Fellow Rashid Zakat.


Pew Fellow Marissa Johnson-Valenzuela, No Otro Lado album cover, 2018.

“I want my work to encourage looking again. In particular, I find myself repeatedly going back to moments of exception that teach us about what is possible.”   

Marissa Johnson-Valenzuela is a writer, poet, and musician whose work is concerned with little-told histories, Mexican American identities, migration, and experiences of incarceration. Her conceptual, bilingual 2018 album No Otro Lado explores borders and the relationship between the US and Mexico. Johnson-Valenzuela says she often finds ways to highlight the perspectives of her subjects, such as undocumented workers and incarcerated people, by using direct quotes in her poetry, fiction, and nonfiction and community voices in recordings. Her poetry and prose have appeared in publications including American Poetry Review, Foundry, Prism International, and The Baffler. She is the founder of Thread Makes Blanket Press, which focuses on publishing writing by people of color and queer and trans writers. She has received grants from the Velocity Fund, a program funded by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and from Leeway Foundation. Johnson-Valenzuela is an assistant professor of English at the Community College of Philadelphia. She has an MFA in fiction from the University of Wyoming and a BA in English from Temple University.