Dr. Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor
Georgia, United States
Member Since: 06/02/2012
Born in Des Plaines, Illinois, poet Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor earned a B.A. at Tufts University, an MA at the University of Santa Cruz, a Ph.D. in 2001 at the University of Pennsylvania in Educational Linguistics and later completed a low-residency M.F.A. at New England College, 2007. In her book of poems, Imperfect Tense (Whitepoint Press, July 2016) she presents ethnographic poetry and arts-based research methods that are informed by the poet's Fulbright study in Oaxaca, Mexico and years teaching English as a second language. The writer grounds these poems in teaching, learning and living between languages and cultures.
The poems play –imperfectly- with form, including sonnets, sestinas, pantoums, terza rima, couplets, and syllabic verse. Others compress the essence of qualitative interviews and fieldwork observations through free verse and prose poetry. Much like the imported “dragon fruit,” these poems grasp displacement as opportunity, they relish in perpetual outsider-ness as a way inside a fundamentally shared human condition.
The first section “Imperfect Tense” is a specific meditation on American’s pursuits of Spanish as a second language. They take the literal grammar of the “imperfect” as a metaphor for the language acquisition process.
“Past Tense,” revolves around experiences as a language and poetry teacher working with immigrant communities—working with Puerto Rican, Mexican, and Chinese youth and adults in Georgia. The poet travels through the imperfections of romantic love and war.
The final section, “Ever Present Tense,” observes the languages of family—the undying obsessions that come with growing up in a household of addiction, imperfect communications, motherhood, and love. The manuscript ends with a “feminine ending,” the ultimate “imperfection” of line and sentiment, that which fulfills human and aesthetic needs to fall short, to humble oneself, to be woman/mother/poet, and find her reader.
Cahnmann-Taylor has co-authored two books in education, Teachers Act Up: Creating Multicultural Learning Communities Through Theatre (Teachers College Press, 2010) and Arts-Based Research in Education (Routledge 2008, second edition underway). Her numerous poems, essays, and articles about language learning have appeared in the Georgia Review, American Poetry Review, Women’s Quarterly Review, Cream City Review, Barrow Street, Puerto Del Sol, Mom Egg, Anthropology and Humanism, Language Arts, TESOL Journal, and many other literary and scholarly homes. She judges the annual Anthropology & Humanism poetry contest and is the editor of the journal's ethnographic poetry section.
Cahnmann-Taylor's honors include a 2015 Beckman Award for Professors Who Inspire, a 2013-14 Fulbright Award (Oaxaca, Mexico), two NEA Big Read Grants (Jeffers 2015; Poe 2016), top Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prizes, a Jewish Currents Prize, First place in Anthropology and Humanism poetry prize, a Leeway Poetry Grant, and a Pushcart Prize nomination by New Verse Daily. Her poems have been featured in the forthcoming Golden Shovel Anthology, the Best of Bellevue Literary Review, The Soutern Poetry Anthology, and on websites for the Centre for Imaginative Ethnography and Savage Minds. She publishes Misha’s Poetry Cast [featuring poets on poetry and language education] https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL279E0AF57922CBDD and runs an annual "Seat in the Shade" poetry series in Athens, Georgia every June.
Follow her blog at http://teachersactup.com
MELISA "Misha" CAHNMANN-TAYLOR is Professor of TESOL & World Language Education at the University of Georgia. She is the winner of Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prizes, two NEA "Big Read" grants, a Leeway Poetry Grant, and a Fulbright award. She has a book of poetry, Imperfect Tense (Whitepoint Press, July 2016), and co-authored two books, Teachers Act Up: Creating Multicultural Learning Communities Through Theatre and Arts-Based Research in Education. Her numerous poems, essays, and articles about language learning have appeared in the Georgia Review, American Poetry Review, Women’s Quarterly Review, Cream City Review, Barrow Street, Puerto Del Sol, Mom Egg, Anthropology and Humanism, Language Arts, TESOL Journal, and many other literary and scholarly homes. She judges the annual Anthropology & Humanism poetry contest and is the editor of the ethnographic poetry section. Follow her blog at http://teachersactup.com
Twitter Username: @cahnmann
- Imperfect Tense , Whitepoint Press (July 2016)
- Teachers Act Up: Creating Multicultural Community Through Theatre , Teachers College Press (2010)
- Arts-Based Research in Education: Foundations for Practice , Routledge (2008)
- Beckman Award for Professors Who Inspire(2015)
- Fulbright Award(2013)
- Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Awards (3)(2005)
- Professor at University of Georgia
- Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Latin American Studies from Tufts University
- Master of Arts in Education from University of Santa Cruz
- Master of Fine Arts in Poetry from New England College
- Doctoral Degree in Educational Linguistics from University of Pennsylvania
Genres of Interest
Creative nonfiction, Playwriting, Children's literature , Poetry