Russo, Gianna

Title: Instructor

Department: Language Studies and the Arts

Phone: 352-588-8282



  • Master of Arts, English, University of South Florida
  • Bachelor of Arts, Psychology and Women’s Studies, University of South Florida


Gianna Russo is the author of a full-length poetry collection, Moonflower (2011, Kitsune Books), winner of the Florida Book Award Bronze Medal and the Florida Publisher’s Association Presidents Award Silver Medal. She has also published two chapbooks, including The Companion of Joy, published by SLU’s Green Rabbit Press. A Pushcart Prize nominee, she has published poems in Tampa Review, Ekphrasis, Crab Orchard Review, Florida Review, Florida Humanities Council Forum, Karamu, The Bloomsbury Review, The Sun, Poet Lore, The MacGuffin, and Calyx, among others. Her nonfiction essays have appeared in the Tampa Bay Times. Ms. Russo is the founding editor of YellowJacket Press (, an independent press that is currently the only publisher of poetry chapbook manuscripts in Florida. She is editor-in-chief of Saint Leo’s literary magazine Sandhill Review and also founding director of the Sandhill Writers Retreat, a full-day writers’ retreat that debuted on Saint Leo’s University campus in 2012. Ms. Russo is a Florida native. Her interests include organic gardening, travel, music, and cooking big family dinners.

Community Affiliation:

  • Founding editor, YellowJacket Press
  • Board member, Florida Literary Arts Coalition
  • Member, Florida College English Association
  • Past member of the Artist Advisory Committee of the Arts Council of Hillsborough County

Teaching & Professional Interests:

Ms. Russo joined the Saint Leo faculty in 2011 after a number of years teaching at other colleges, universities and in community-based literary arts programs. She wrote the curriculum and co-directed the creative writing program at Blake School of the Arts in Tampa, a public arts high school for almost ten years. At Saint Leo, she teaches Academic Writing I and II, and Writing Wild, a University Explorations creative writing course. She also mentors two writing interns each semester. She wrote the proposal for SLU’s creative writing minor and for the planned low-residency MA in creative writing which is slated to launch in summer 2016. She is passionate about writing, reading and teaching poetry, the elemental truth-telling of creative nonfiction and the essential intersection of the personal and the artistic.

Honors & Awards:

  • Florida Book Award Bronze Medal for Moonflower, 2012
  • Florida Publishers Association President’s Award Silver Medal for Moonflower, 2011
  • Eric Hofer First Horizons Award Honorable Mention for Moonflower, 2012
  • Creative Loafing’s Best of The Bay “Poetry in Motion” Award, 2013
  • Pushcart Prize Nominations: “In the Fatherland”2011 nominated by Moonshot; “Hibiscus” and “Gridlock with crepe myrtle blossoms” nominated by Kitsune Books; “This Day, Framed in Light”, 2005 nominated by Three Candles
  • Arts Teacher Incentive Grant, Hillsborough County Arts Council, 2006
  • Surdna Foundation Arts Teacher Fellowship recipient, 2006
  • Public Arts Award , Hillsborough County Water Treatment Building, 2004
  • Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts and Sciences Fellowship, 2003
  • NFAA Coca-Cola Company Distinguished Teacher in the Arts nominee, 2003, 2004, 2007
  • Howard W. Blake High School Teacher of the Year, 2003–2004
  • Hillsborough County Lead Teacher, 2004
  • Hillsborough County Arts Teachers Initiative Grant, 2003
  • Hillsborough County Artist Fellowship, 2001
  • Florida Individual Artist Fellowship, Honorable Mention, 2000
  • Artist in Residence, Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, 1997–2000
  • Merit Scholarship, Catskills Poetry Workshop, 2000, 2001
  • Hillsborough County Emerging Artist Grant, 1994
  • Affiliate Writer in Residence at the University of Tampa, 1994–1995

Book Publications:

  • The Companion of Joy, (chapbook) Green Rabbit Press, 2014
  • Moonflower, (full length poetry collection) Kitsune Books, 2011
  • Blue Slumber (chapbook) YellowJacket Press, 2006


  • "So Many Hitchhikers on this Street", forthcoming in Florida Review
  • “Two Houses Down", Apalachee Review, Summer/Fall 2014
  • “Way Out West: Sonny Rollins, 1955” Tampa Review, Fall 2014
  • “My Father’s Pilgrimage,” Indian River Review, Fall 2103
  • “The Book Club,” Indian River Review, Fall 2013
  • “Said” Exphrasis, Fall 2013
  • “Paradelle for Late Night Jazz” Ilanot Review, Jan. 2013
  • “Vita Felice” Passager, Winter 2013
  • “Flood Subject” Saw Palm, Spring 2013
  • “Plant’s Palace,” “Jimmy’s on Central,” “In a Pond East of Florida Avenue” displayed at Stageworks’ City of Tampa production, May-June 2012
  • “Plant’s Palace”, “Squint and You’ll See It”, Revival” USF Humanities Institute website (part of the project The Hillsborough River: Human Connections ) Oct-Nov. 2012
  • “Santa Maria in Trastevere”, Visions International, Spring 2012
  • “The Gypsies of Florence,” Il Cimeterio”, espresso ink, Dec. 2011
  • “In the Fatherland”, Moonshot, Summer 2011
  • “Damselfly”, “Last Summer Home”, Bridle Path Press online, July, 2011
  • “Voice”, “Thursday Night Poetry”, Moonshot, Fall 2010
  • “In the Kitchen of Remembrance,” Sweetlit, Spring, 2010
  • “Handbuilt, Thrown, Altered,” Saw Palm Review, Spring 2010
  • “A Walt Disney World Production,” “Daybreak at Cape Canaveral,” “Hibiscus,” Sandhill Review, Summer, 2009
  • “Magnolia Ballad,” “Damselfly,” and The Cabbage Palm: Lessen You Cut it Down,” The Blotter, Sept. 2008
  • “Mistress and Maid,” Tampa Review, Fall 2006
  • “This Day, Framed in Light” and “Edvard Munch,” Three Candles Review, Spring 2005
  • “Each Day is a Wishbone,” Florida English Journal, Winter 2003
  • "Three Feasts in Florence," Crab Orchard Review, Summer 2003
  • "Migrants" (reprint) and "Admit," Weekly Planet, April 2003
  • "Fine," Apalachee Review, Fall, 2002
  • "Angel of Drought," Forum, the Florida Humanities Council Magazine, 2002
  • "At the Reliquary," White Pelican Review, v3, no. 1, 2002
  • "Amorum Emblemata," Ekphrasis, v2, no. 5, Spring 2002
  • "Emblem d'Amour," Ekphrasis, v2, no. 5, Spring 2002
  • "Composition in Afternoon," Ekphrasis, v2, no. 5, Spring 2002
  • "A Thing About Rhumba," Florida Review, Winter 2002
  • "An Afternoon in January," Florida Review, Winter 2002
  • "Grief is Your Only Angel," Karamu, The Millenium Issue, Spring 1999
  • "The Bridgekeeper Notices Fall," reprint, Sunscripts, 1996
  • "18 Inside a Cliché," Tampa Review, Fall 1995
  • "The Bridgekeeper Notices Fall," The MacGuffin, Fall 1994
  • "Migrants" and "Revenge of the Poetess," The Sun, March 1994
  • "The Artist, Forrest Bess, Explains," The Bloomsbury Review, 1994
  • "Penitenti," Slipstream, #14, 1994
  • "Night School," Heaven Bone, Spring 1993
  • "Blood," White Mule, 1993
  • "Directions for Driving the Tamiami Trail," Gaia, 1993
  • "Keeping the Light," Poet Lore, Summer 1992
  • "The Last Time I Saw Hal," Tampa Tribune Fiction Quarterly, 1991
  • "When My Husband Cleans the Kitchen," Calyx, 1991
  • "Goodbye to My Mentor" and "Felon" (reprint), ArtsNews, 1990
  • "Be," Organica, 1989
  • "Night on Mount Le Conte,""The Magic Well," Tampa Bay Review, 1989
  • "Mr. and Mrs. Jack Sprat," New CollAge, 1989-90
  • "Reply to Andre," Garden Doctor, 1988
  • "To My Boy Asleep," Gryphon, 1988
  • "Anniversary" and "Finding Silence," Gryphon, 1985
  • "Your Heart, Temporarily" and "The Professor," Omnibus, 1984
  • "Danjou Pears" and "I Imagine You in Kodiak," Palmetto Review, 1984
  • "St. Valentine Beheaded," South Florida Poetry Review, 1983
  • "A Woman Reads Your Palm," Konglomerati, 1983
  • "Felon" and "Photograph," New CollAge, 1983

Creative Non-fiction & Essays:

  • “Dinner with Dad” excerpt, The Splendid Table, NPR, June 2014
  • “I’ll Never Read Another Book of Poems,” Creative Loafing’s Story Time series, April, 2012
  • “My First Time” Bridle Path Press online, August, 2011
  • “A Story Tied in Stitches,” St. Petersburg Times, July 2005
  • “Freed from the Currents,” St. Petersburg Times, January 2005
  • “Of Muse, Menace in my Classroom,” St. Petersburg Times, April 2004
  • “Transported by Sound,” St. Petersburg Times, Jan. 2004
  • “An Invalid Poetic License,” St. Petersburg Times, Sept. 2003
  • “The Ugly Twins," St. Petersburg Times, 1990

Book Reviews:

  • A Messy Job I Never Did See a Girl Do, by Mary Jane Ryals, Organica, Summer, 2000
  • Telling and Remembering: A Century of American Jewish Poetry, edited by Steven J. Rubin, in Organica, Summer 1998
  • The Secret History of Water, by Silvia Curbelo, Weekly Planet, December 1997
  • Art & Lies, by Jeanette Winterson, Weekly Planet, May 30, 1996
  • American Poets Say Goodbye to the 20th Century, edited by Andrei Codrescu and Laura Rosenthal, St. Petersburg Times, July 21, 1996


  • “Night off on the Graveyard Shift” 15 Views of Tampa Bay, Barrow Street Press, Sept. 2012
  • "That Night," Metajournal (USF), 1985


  • “To My Boy Asleep” forthcoming in The Well-Versed Parent by Jane Hunter
  • “The Story of Moss,” “Magnolia Ballad,” “Morning Surprise During Prom Season,”
  • “In a Pond East of Florida Avenue,” “Old Folks Call it Mother-die,” Throwing Stones, Green Rabbit at SLU, 2012
  • "La Bodega in Cayo Hueso," Key West: A Collection, ed. Brett Van Ernst, 2001
  • "To My Boy Asleep," Essential Love, ed. Ginny Lowe Connors, 2000
  • "For the Sake of the Body," Split Verse: A Divorce Anthology, 2000
  • "The Klansman in My Blood," South of Midnight, eds

Keynote Speaker:

  • Other Words, Florida Literary Arts Coalition Conference, Nov. 7, 2014, 2013
  • Florida College English Association Conference, Oct. 2013
  • Florida State Poetry Association Convention, October, 2011

Grant Panelist:

  • Hillsborough County Emerging Artist Grant, Spring 2008, 2005, 1996


  • Progress Energy Arts Poetry Contest, 2013
  • USF MFA Program Poetry Contest, 2011
  • Left Coast Writing Contest sponsored by Creative Loafing, 2007
  • Florida Scholastic Press Literary Magazine contest, 2006--present
  • National Thespian Society (Hillsborough Chapter) playwriting contest, 2001
  • Tampa Writers Alliance Poetry Contest, 2000
  • National League of American Penwomen, Lakeland Chapter, Poetry Contest, 1996
  • Action Frees Your Dreams Poetry and Fiction Contest, USF, 1994
  • Florida Community College Magazine Contest, 1993
  • Tampa Writers Alliance Poetry Contest, 1989, 1993
  • Alabama State Poetry Society Contest, 1991
  • Florida Community College Press Association Poetry Contest, 1985

Explore School of Arts & Sciences »