Poet and photographer Jeanne Julian lives with her husband on a creek beside the Croatan National Forest in North Carolina. "Not as wild as it sounds," she says. "At Merchant's Store just a mile away, you can get grilled hamburgers, greeting cards, salted peanuts jarred by the Methodist Men, fishing bait, motor oil, and beer."
Jeanne often works by a window with an inspirational view: old Brices Creek, where Spanish moss drapes towering bald cypress trees. Observations of the natural world enrich her first chapbook, Blossom and Loss, published by Longleaf Press in December of 2015. She has two chapbooks and a full-length collection in the works.
Wonderful teachers in her native Ohio encouraged and guided Jeanne in her efforts as a young writer. In high school, she was co-editor of the literary magazine and won a prize for a sonnet. At Allegheny College in Pennsylvania, she studied with the late novelist Alfred Kern and with Lloyd Michaels, founder of Film Criticism magazine. While developing as a fiction writer, she enrolled in the graduate program at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Influential faculty at that time were Tamas Aczel, Jay Neugeboren, Joseph Langland, Robert Bagg, Cynthia Wolff, and James Tate. She often recalls lines by Juan Ramone Jimenez, taped to poet Donald Junkins' office door there: "Don't run, go slowly,/It is only to yourself that you have to go...." A reassuring message, then and now.
After earning her MFA, Jeanne landed a temporary job at Merriam-Webster Inc., researching word histories for the Ninth Collegiate Dictionary. She then started her career as a marketing and communications administrator at Westfield State College (now University). Over 27 years there, she undertook all kinds of professional writing and editing projects. She enjoyed the creative campus atmosphere, including readings by such accomplished faculty poets as Stephen Sossaman and Lori Desrosiers, and visiting greats such as Desmond Egan, Dennis Finnell, Hershman R. John, X. J. Kennedy, Galway Kinnell, and Richard Wilbur.
In recent years, Jeanne participated in a Squire Summer Writing Residency led by Amber Flora Thomas and in workshops with poet Dorianne Laux and novelist Zelda Lockhart. The 12th annual Carolina Mountains Literary Festival invited Jeanne to be a featured reader in 2017. Attending sessions at the Press 53 Gathering of Poets in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, was a highlight of 2018.
Author Doris Betts once said that North Carolina is "the writingest state." Jeanne feels fortunate to be connected with the vibrant arts community there, particularly in the city of New Bern (a place that figures in the novels of Nicholas Sparks). She values her membership in the Neuse River Writers, a close-knit, five-member group that provides critiques and support. Jeanne also participates in the readings and programs coordinated by the Nexus Poets collective and Craven Arts Council. For the Adult Enrichment Program at Craven Community College, Jeanne developed and taught the class "Writing Poetry: Next Steps." She belongs to the the North Carolina Poetry Society, the North Carolina Writers Network, the Pamlico Writers Group, and Carteret Writers, Inc. She serves on the board of the Community Artists Gallery and Studios, Inc., and is on the executive committee of the Coastal Photo Club in New Bern.