Gianna Russo, Founding Editor

Poet, writer, editor and teacher Gianna Russo, has pursued a life-long calling to poetry and writing.  A supporter of the literary arts and artists for almost 30 years, she is active in a number of literary endeavors in Tampa and across Florida.  Russo is the author of the full-length poetry collection, Moonflower (Kitsune Books, 2011), winner of a Florida Book Award bronze medal, Florida Publishers Association Presidents’ Award silver medal, and an Eric Hofer First Horizons finalist award.


As founding editor of YellowJacket Press, Russo won a 2011 Creative Loafing Best of the Bay Award.  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 in 2006.  She has also received a Hillsborough County Artist Fellowship, Emerging Artist Grant, and an honorable mention for the Florida Artist Fellowship. A Pushcart Prize nominee, she has published poems in Tampa Review, Ekphrasis, Crab Orchard Review, Apalachee Review, Florida Review, Florida Humanities Council Forum, Karamu, The Bloomsbury Review, The Sun, Poet Lore, Saw Palm, The MacGuffin, and Calyx, among others.  Her creative nonfiction has appeared in the St. Petersburg Times.  In her first stab at fiction, in 2012 she contributed a chapter to the collaborative novel 15 Views of Tampa Bay, published serially on the website of Barrow Street Press.


A teacher of creative writing and English for over 20 years, Russo also was the administrator of the Florida Suncoast Writers Conference and the founding director of the YMCA Writers’ Voice in Tampa.  She co-directed the creative writing program at Howard W. Blake School of the Arts in Tampa from its inception in 1997-2007 and worked as Curator of Education for the Henry B. Plant Museum in Tampa.  She has also worked as a successful grant writer.  Currently, she teaches at St. Leo University, where she is also managing editor of Sandhill Review.


When not teaching, writing or supporting other writers, Ms. Russo enjoys gourmet cooking, organic gardening, travel, reading, dancing and enjoying life with family and friends.  She is the mother of two grown sons and lives in Tampa with her husband, the scholar and editor Jeff Karon, and their cat Gingko.

Jeff Karon, the webmaster for YellowJacket Press, is a consultant who provides reputation and brand management for organizations and individuals through writing and editing, web and instructional design, and training. He has over twenty-five years’ experience training thousands of students in classes and workshops, both as a former university professor as well as consultant. As an editor and writer, he has worked on projects from around the world and has presented at the local, state, national, and international levels. He trains others using a model of honorable behavior derived from the strategic martial arts. He is fortunate to be married to Gianna Russo, editor and founder of YellowJacket Press.

Amanda Forrester is a poet and data analyst in Dade City, Florida.  An MFA candidate, Amanda's poetry reflects her mission to bring awareness to child abuse.  Follow her on Twitter @ajforrester75.

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