Joanna Leigh Photography

Personal Life and Writing Career


I’m 22 years old, currently living in New Jersey. I started writing poetry in high school. My journals from that time are full of little poems, and with each scribble I was finding my voice, even though I didn’t know it then. I actually remember that the first poem I ever wrote—not counting the cute ones for school projects when I was a little kid—was in math class during my senior year of high school. It was some sort of critique of the school system in the form of a tiny stanza, but it sparked something me. I often had little sketches to accompany my pieces of writing.

But it wasn’t until I got to college that I knew I wanted to pursue writing, and specifically poetry, as a career. I attend Montclair State University, and during my first semester I fell into the slam poetry scene. I met incredible slam poets and competed in the bouts, earning a spot on MSU’s CUPSI team, where we would have competed nationally if not for COVID. Even though we couldn’t follow it through, I gained so much from being able to transform my pain and life experience into poetry, which showed me that this is something I need to do forever. Through that, and taking classes with poets and writers like Michael Robbins, Nicholas Samaras, Rachel Carter, David Galef, and Lucy McDiarmid, I’ve been able to develop my craft.

To me, exploring language through poetry is a spiritual art form. It has helped me heal and grow in ways nothing else can. My goal is to be a widely published poet and publish books of my own, eventually pursuing an MFA in poetry. I’m currently working on my first collection. I also have dreams of working as an editor for a literary magazine, even creating my own.

Alongside this, I want to work in advocacy and activism supporting the queer community, along with other marginalized communities. One day, I want to be a professor of poetry and/or anything related to studies around feminism, queerness, and disability. I’m also interested in yoga and its physical and emotional benefits. It has impacted my life beautifully, so my goal is to become certified to teach. You can navigate here to read an article about two yoga classes I held at MSU for sexual trauma survivors. I’m really excited to see what my future holds beyond my recent graduation.


BA in English

Minor in Creative Writing with a focus on Poetry

Minor in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies

Earned in 2023 from Montclair State University

Queer Poets Collective

Since June of 2021, I’ve been the curator for the Instagram page @queer.poets. Queer Poets Collective was founded by a friend of mine from college, and they passed the torch to me to continue the community. It has over 500 followers and continues to grow every day. If you identify as a queer poet, consider submitting your work to our Instagram. Check out the highlights section of our profile to see how to qualify.

GSWS Internship

From October 2022 to May 2023, I was an intern for the Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies department at my alma mater, helping the program grow and achieve longevity. I assisted with social media posts and any other creative tasks, along with leading a biweekly discussion group called “Conversations in Feminism.” I helped put together our third annual zine, titled Color Theory, as well as organize the zine celebration event. View my poetry in the first three volumes via my “Publications” page. It was an honor to work for a program that has given me so much.

FORA Internship

During the Fall 2021 semester, I was an intern with FORA, a creative writing workshopping company. I created content to be published on FORA’s Medium Page. You can click here to read any of my ten articles. Most of them are loaded with creative writing tips, but the last one is a personal essay of mine titled, “Thoughts from a Young Poet.”