Jessica Piazza was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She earned her B.S. in Journalism from Boston University, where she began work as the Favorite Poem Project, serving as an undergraduate intern for United States Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky. The project–which invited people of all ages and from all walks of life to write in about their favorite published poems–sparked her ongoing fascination for poetry the potential that it could have on an individual and community level.
After college, Jessica moved back to New York City, where she took workshops at the New School and the 92nd Street Y. At the former, she met the poet Rebecca Lindenberg, and together they founded the Speakeasy Poetry Series in downtown Manhattan, which ran monthly from 2001 – 2007 and routinely featured poetry greats, such as Paul Muldoon, David Lehman, and Marie Ponsot, reading alongside emerging and mid-career poets.
From New York, Jessica moved to Austin, Texas to pursue her M.A. in English (Creative Writing) at the University of Texas at Austin. While there, she worked with R.J. Lambert and James Capozzi to find funding and create a managerial foundation for Bat City Review, and subsequently edited its inaugural issue. In her final year at UT Austin, she won the prestigious Keene Prize for Literature, and continued to write, read and publish poetry. Under the tutelage of Dr. Thomas Cable, she also began studying prosody, which laid the groundwork for her scholarly work on poetic sound and meter.
In 2007, Jessica moved to Los Angeles to enter the Ph.D. program English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Southern California, which she will finish this year. Her mentors there have included California Poet Laureate Carol Muske-Dukes, David St. John, and Susan McCabe, and as she delved further into prose writing, Aimee Bender and Dana Johnson.
In Los Angeles, Jessica continued her commitment to poetry community and advocacy by co-founding Gold Line Press, a chapbook publishing press sponsored by USC. She is also a contributing editor at The Offending Adam and has blogged for The Best American Poetry and Barrelhouse.
After studying prosody for several years, Jessica’s scholarly work has now expanded to sit solidly in the field of Cognitive Poetics. Her dissertation explores the relationship between neuroscience and literature; specifically how the brain processes the visual and sound information of text, and how the reactions to that information inform literary analyses.
Among other places, her work has appeared in The National Poetry Review, Agni, Indiana Review, 32 Poems, The Missouri Review, Mid-American Review, No Tell Motel, 42 Opus, Pebble Lake Review, Rattle, Hobart, Country Dog Review, Coconut, Barefoot Muse, Forklift Ohio, and the anthologies 150 Contemporary Sonnets (University of Evansville Press) and Hot Sonnets (Entasis Press).
She is currently working on a book of essays and lectures on writing with the poet Jill Alexander Essbaum, a series of erasure poems with fiction writer, essayist, and poet Heather O’Neill, a comedic memoir, and a group of short stories in iambic meter. Interrobang is her first collection of poems.