Photo Credit: Jason Thrasher

Melisa Cahnmann

b. 1970

Current City, State, Country

Athens, Georgia, USA

Birth City, State, Country

United States


Melisa “Misha” Cahnmann-Taylor, Professor of Language and Literacy Education at the University of Georgia, is the author of a book of poems, Imperfect Tense (2016) and five other books on the arts of language and education: The Creative Ethnographer’s Notebook (In Press, 2024), Enlivening Instruction with Drama & Improv: A guide for Second Language and World Language Teachers (2021); Teachers Act Up: Creating Multicultural Community Through Theatre (2010) & Arts-Based Research in Education: Foundations for Practice, first and second editions (2008; 2018)

Misha’s poems, essays, translations, research articles, and reviews have appeared in hundreds of journals in print and online including Rattle, Georgia Review, Poet Lore, Mom Egg, The Southern Poetry Anthology, Barrow Street, Calyx Magazine, American Poetry Review, and in many other scholarly and literary homes. Some of Misha’s awards include the Beckman award for “Professors Who Inspire Social Change,” Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg and Anna Davidson poetry prizes, Jenny Penny Oliver Diversity Award, First Year Odyssey Teaching Award, and the Foreign Language Association of Georgia [FLAG] Leadership Award.

In 2020 Misha was appointed as U.S. Fulbright Ambassador scholar to speak to faculty and student audiences around the U.S. about Fulbright. A Fulbright Scholarship recipient (Oaxaca Mexico, 2013-2014) and visiting scholar-artist in Guanajuato Mexico at the Resplandor Center (2017), she enjoys speaking internationally in Mexico, Israel, Canada, Chile, Poland, Germany, Hong Kong, Aruba, Spain, and elsewhere around the world. Cahnmann-Taylor has directed a U.S. Department of Education Transition to Teaching grant and numerous National Endowment for the Arts Big Read and Georgia Humanities grants.  Her 2023 Big Read Grant shares Ilya Kaminsky’s Deaf Republic with Athens, Georgia readers. Summer 2023 she will read her poems in Munich, Germany as part of the “Remembering Signs” project to acknowledge Jewish citizens who were forced into exile during the nazi regime 

A graduate of the New England College low-residency MFA program and the University of Pennsylvania’s Educational Linguistics doctoral program, she lives in Athens, Georgia with her husband, two children and their rescue dog, Bagel.

What is the relationship between Judaism and/or Jewish culture and your poetry?

My poems all emerge from a Jewish orientation to the world, one that considers what tikkun olam might be in art as in life, returning year after year to the work of renewal and repair in the world. I ask ongoing questions about expansive, Jewish belonging: What does it mean to be Jewish and to speak or not to speak Hebrew? What does it mean to have visited or to have lived in Israel and be Jewish? To be born in Israel: to be Israeli, Druze, Palestinian, Arab, or any combination? What does it mean to be a man, woman, or child and Jewish? What does it mean to be a person of color or identified as White; Ashkenazi or Sephardi; English speaking or speaking (m)any other tongues? What does it mean to be gay, straight, trans, (non)binary, old, young, “mixed” or “whole”? Can anyone be “more” Jewish than another? My poems interrogate questions and beg for peace.

Published Works

Imperfect Tense (Whitepoint Press, 2016)

Creative Scholarship
Creative Ethnographer’s Notebook: A guide for poetry and songwriting in anthropology (Routledge, In Press)
Enlivening Instruction with Drama and Improv (Routledge, 2021)
Arts-Based Research in Education: Foundations for Practice, Second Edition (Routledge, 2018)
Arts-Based Research in Education: Foundations for Practice, First Edition (Routledge, 2008)
Teachers Act Up: Creating Multicultural Community Through Theatre (Teachers College Press, 2010)

Author Site

Links to Sample Works

Video Reading

Current Title

Professor, University of Georgia


Tufts University, BA
University of California, Santa Cruz, MA
University of Pennsylvania, PhD
New England College, MFA

Languages of Publication(s) and Poets Translated

Mandarin to English (Co-translation) of Nianxi Chen (poems appeared in Rattle and forthcoming in Plume and other journals)

Subject Matter