Suffolk native releases new book

Published 10:08 pm Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Suffolk native Phyllis Carr Johnson likes to say that she has loved books since she was “big enough to turn a page.”

That love for books is now evident, as she has written three of her own. She will be signing her newest book, “Twelve is for More than Doughnuts,” at the Books in the Park event at Town Point Park in Norfolk on Sept. 27.

Johnson’s newest book contains poetry and essays based on Bible passages.

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“I chose the title, because I think numbers in the Bible have a lot of significance,” Johnson said. “With it being 12 disciples [of Jesus], 12 tribes [of Israel], there’s a lot of importance to the number 12 in the Bible.”

The book’s title poem recounts how Jesus asked his 12 disciples to put down their fishing nets and follow Him. Each poem or essay is followed by the passage that inspired it.

“I tried to write about as many books of the Bible as I could,” Johnson said. “I would sit down and read passages and the ones that really spoke to my heart, I wrote about those … I tried to write about passages in the Bible that would really feel relevant to somebody’s life.”

The writing process, which lasted more than a year, helped her as well as future readers, Johnson said.

“I felt like it ministered to me as I wrote it,” she said. “The very act of writing it felt like a blessing to me.”

Other poems in the book focus on Biblical themes, such as loving your neighbor, loving your enemy, miracles and the process of forgiveness.

The book helped Johnson to understand parts of the Bible she hadn’t previously taken much time to read, she said. Her sense of humor also comes out in the book — she chose doughnuts as the title food because they typically come in dozens and they “are the holiest food I can think of,” Johnson jokes in the introduction.

This is the third book for Johnson, a graduate of Forest Glen High School and Chowan College. The first, “Hot and Bothered By It,” consists of midlife humor for women.

“It makes a good milestone birthday gift,” Johnson said.

Her second book, “Being Frank with Anne,” is a poetic interpretation of the diary of Anne Frank, a Jewish girl who hid with her family in the Netherlands during the Holocaust until being betrayed and sent to a concentration camp. Johnson was excited this year to have gotten Miep Gies, who helped hide the Frank family, to autograph a copy of “Being Frank with Anne.”

Johnson will autograph her books at Books in the Park at Town Point Park Sept. 27 from noon to 6 p.m. The book also is available at, and will be available at next month.

Aside from her book-writing exploits, Johnson is a photojournalist under contract for The Virginian-Pilot, writes regularly for Tidewater Teacher magazine and is a media center assistant at Western Branch High School in Chesapeake.

Contact Johnson at