Poet, Writer, Editor, Teacher



Thanks for visiting my site.  Here’s my official bio, written appropriately in third person:

Once dubbed the “doyen of Tampa poets” by Creative Loafing (then Weekly Planet), poet, writer, editor and teacher Gianna Russo is the inaugural Wordsmith of The City of Tampa. https://www.tampagov.net/news/mayor-castor-appoints-gianna-russo-wordsmith

She is the author of two collections of poetry.  One House Down was published in 2019 by Madville Publishing https://madvillepublishing.com/    Moonflower, (Kitsune Books, 2011) is the winner of a Florida Book Awards bronze medal, Florida Publishers Association Presidents’ Award silver medal, and an Eric Hofer First Horizons finalist award. She is also the author of the chapbooks, Blue Slumber (YellowJacket  Press) and The Companion of Joy (Green Rabbit Press at Saint Leo University). She holds an MFA from The University of Tampa, and both an MA in English and a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies from University of South Florida.  Gianna has studied with these mentors:

Erica Dawson https://ericadawsonpoet.net/

Peter Meinke https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/peter-meinke

Dorianne Laux http://www.doriannelaux.net/

Joe Millar https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/joseph-millar

Sandra Beasley https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/sandra-beasley

Gianna’s poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and has appeared in Tampa Review, Ekphrasis, Crab Orchard Review, Florida Review, Florida Humanities Council Forum, Karamu, The Bloomsbury Review, The Sun, Poet Lore, The MacGuffin, Calyx and others, in addition to several anthologies.  Her creative non-fiction essays have been published in the Tampa Bay Times (formerly St. Petersburg Times) .   In her first stab at fiction, she contributed a chapter to the collaborative novel 15 Views of Tampa Bay, published serially on the website of Barrow Street Press.


​​A fellow of both the Surdna Foundation and the Hambidge Center for the Arts and Sciences, she is the recipient of an Arts Teacher Fellowship which allowed her to attend the Spoleto, Italy Writers Workshop, where she worked with Dorianne Laux and Joe Millar.   She has also received a Hillsborough County Artist Fellowship, an Emerging Artist Grant, and an honorable mention for the Florida Artist Fellowship.

​Gianna is founding editor of YellowJacket Press, currently Florida’s only publisher of poetry chapbook manuscripts, for which she won a 2011 Creative Loafing Best of the Bay Award. In 2017, she won another award from Creative Loafing, Best Local Poet. 

​​A life-long resident of Tampa, Gianna served as an artist-advisor to the Hillsborough County Arts Council for nearly 10 years.  She has twice served as grant panelist for Hillsborough County Arts Grants.

​Gianna is Assistant Professor of English and creative writing at Saint Leo University in Saint Leo, Florida.    https://www.saintleo.edu/creative-writing-english-degrees

From 2019-21 she will be serving as the College of Arts & Science’s inaugural Poet-in-Residence for the College of Arts and Sciences and REBUS, a scholarly journal. She also serves as Editor-in-Chief of the university literary magazine, Sandhill Review, and is founding director of the Sandhill Writers Retreat.


An avid gardener, gourmet cook, lover of music, art, dance, reading and travel, 


Gianna is the mother of two grown sons and daughters-in-law and as of 2018, the nonna to two grandbabies. She lives in a 1920’s bungalow in Seminole Heights, Tampa, with her husband, the writer and editor Jeff Karon  and their cat, Gingko.

4 thoughts on “Poet, Writer, Editor, Teacher

  1. Hi Gianna,
    My colleague Earl Braggs recommended you for our Meacham Writers’ Workshop at UTC on March 19th-21st. Would you please email me to let me know if you’re interested and available?

    1. Dear Kris,
      Thanks so much for contacting me. I love Earl and appreciate this recommendation. I would absolutely LOVE to come for the workshop, but unfortunately, I am going to a wedding in Chicago on the 20th. However, Earl said you also have a fall event. I will be on sabbatical next fall, so right now my schedule is wide open. Feel free to get back to me at my email: Rgianna15@gmail.com
      I sincerely hope we can work something out!
      Yours in poetry,

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