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Denzel Johnson-Green wants St. Pete to “indulge in poetry like bread”

Denzel Johnson-Green wants St. Pete to “indulge in poetry like bread”

a man poes on a chair with a copy of a poetry magazine in his hand.

Denzel Johnson-Green is a name that resonates with the tight-knit poetry scene in St. Petersburg. By day, Denzel works as a sales representative, but his true passion lies in poetry. Since 2019, he has been a driving force behind community poetry events and is the creator of Neptune, a poetry art magazine by and for St. Pete locals. His work earned him a prestigious Roy Peter Clark Literary Prize.

Denzel was born in Evanston, Illinois then lived in Ohio and Alaska before moving to St. Pete for high school. He attended the University of South Florida St. Pete, majoring in biology, but ultimately dropped out to fully embrace the arts.

a group of people gather for community poetry at a coffee shop
Community Poetry returns on Sundays in October and runs through April. The event typically takes place on Sundays from 3pm-5pm at Black Crow Coffee Grand Central

Creating an accessible outlet for artists in St. Pete

In creating Neptune, Denzel was inspired by the realization that major poetry publications like the American Poetry Review and Poetry Foundation are often difficult to break into. He wanted to create a more accessible platform where local artists could publish their work and develop an appreciation for poetry. “In Western society, poetry is often seen as academic, but in other countries, they indulge in poetry like it’s bread—they love it,” he says.

Interestingly, Denzel’s love for poetry didn’t blossom until 2017. “When I grew up, I didn’t like poetry; I liked rap music,” he recalls. It wasn’t until later that he began to appreciate the depth and beauty of poetry. However, he noticed that many poems were heavy and traumatizing, which shaped his editorial choices for Neptune. Denzel prefers lighthearted poems, focusing on positive themes and memories. His open mic events often include prompts that encourage participants to reflect on good experiences, reinforcing his belief that positive things should feel as real and significant as the negative ones.

a poetry magazine held inside a coffee shop.

The Birth of Neptune Magazine

Neptune Magazine was born out of a desire to fill a gap in the local arts community. “I wanted a poetry magazine for St. Pete because I didn’t know of one,” Denzel explains. His vision was clear: a platform dedicated to the local artistic expression he felt was missing.

Initially, Neptune didn’t have a submission section, relying instead on Denzel’s curated network of contributors who provided reliable and consistent content. The magazine quickly found a home at Black Crow Coffee, becoming a staple in both its locations. After starting online in 2020, Neptune soon transitioned from online to print, recognizing the importance of physical copies in the art community.

The Future of Neptune Magazine

Looking ahead, Denzel has big dreams for Neptune. He envisions publishing more frequently than the current bi-annual schedule, adding more pages, and including more art to create a sense of abundance and excitement about reading poetry. While financial constraints currently limit his ability to pay contributors, he hopes to change that as Neptune grows.

As a black creative, Denzel prides himself in giving his people a voice in a space heavily dominated by white counterparts. Neptune Magazine is a testament to the power of letting a community be heard. By providing a platform for local poets and artists, Denzel Johnson-Green is nurturing the cultural fabric of St. Pete, one poem at a time. You can find Neptune at both Black Crow Coffee locations or order it online, with issues shipped directly to your door.

“That’s the dream of Neptune, a place where writers and artists can see each others works and chow down on some dope art,” writes Denzel. Submissions are currently open through August 1 for Neptune, in case any local creatives want to see their work featured. Email your work to

a poet sits at a table and reads to a group at a youth farm
Denzel Johnson Green posted a “Healing Through Words” workshop at the St. Pete Youth Farm in May 2024

Healing through Words at The St. Pete Youth Farm

Denzel also hosted a Healing Through Words workshop at the St. Pete Youth Farm. Healing through Words is part of the the farm’s Community Mental Health & Wellness (CMHW) Monday offerings. Thanks to the Poet Laureate Fellowship Grant through the Academy of American Poets, Gloria Muñoz (St. Pete Poet Laureate) partnered with SPYF for the next year to provide Healing through Writing workshops. 

“Thanks so much for coming out and imagining a different view of healing; a shift of focus to the lighter sides of our days, the simple routines, finding joy in the everyday moments, the food we eat, the company we keep,” wrote Denzel following the workshop in May.


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