Tenea Johnson

Tenea D. Johnson is the author of Starting Friction, a poetry/prose collection, as well as the novels, R/evolution and Smoketown, of which Publisher’s Weekly wrote “the understated, lyrical prose makes even small moments feel triumphant.” Smoketown went on to win the Parallax Award while R/evolution received an honorable mention that year.
Her short stories have been published in anthologies including Sycorax’s Daughters, Shades of Blue and Gray: Ghosts of the Civil War, and Mothership: Tales of Afrofuturism and Beyond. When words alone won’t suffice she performs musical prose at venues like The Public Theater, Knitting Factory and literary salons. She strives to give readers what the world sometimes lacks—a sense of wonder and limitless possibility, kinetic evolution and social justice. Her virtual home is teneadjohnson.com. Stop by anytime.


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Artist’s Blog


New Publication

New Publication

I’m pleased to report that Creative Pinellas Magazine’s first Creative Writing selection includes my short short, “Bare.” The occasional beauty in horror and the intimacy of our extremes shape it. “Bare” does one of things I most enjoy in speculative fiction: It departs the realistic world to illuminate one of its stronger forces–the things we do for love, to connect, to express. 

For those who’d rather listen, there’s audio available here.

At well under 1,00o words it’s flash fiction. Just as brevity is the soul of wit, flash can waste no words.  fill speculative fiction. Think Fantasy and science fictions tomes and lengthy series. For instance, A Song of Fire and Ice Series (Games of Thrones) is on Book 5 of a planned 7 and Terry Pratchett’s Disc World series clocks in at 45 books. Flash fiction follows a different aesthetic. It delivers a concentrated resonance often reserved for poetry or song. Seeing as I’m a sucker for both, flash is a favorite form.

With the right words and a central scene, it’s possible to immerse a reader quickly. In the case of horror it’s interesting to see if the author lets them back up for air.


Getting Ready for the Show

Getting Ready for the Show

Last week the emerging artist grantees met at Creative Pinellas to take a look at the space and evaluate the best spot for our work. Meeting the other grantees was a pleasure and you’re all in for a great show. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s creations. The former Gulf Coast Museum of Art is a big, light space with plenty of interesting pockets inside and out. Xavier Cortada has a show up there now.



Right now
it looks like it’ll be a performance and at least one multimedia piece to (hopefully) enjoy when I’m
not there.


Revision & Perspective

Revision & Perspective

Revision can be more fun than writing. For me work either comes out fully formed or I have to sculpt it, chipping away to discover what beauty lies beneath and chuck what’s weighing it down. (I also start rewriting the plot halfway through but that’s another tedious, labor-intensive story).

In order to do this well, there comes a time to put the work away.

writing box

Literally. Put it away.

It’s too easy to stay in conversation with my intentions, too blinded by what’s in my head to see what’s actually on the page. Time and distance can help me regain perspective, and perspective is key.


From the Imagine Museum in St. Pete. The collection is well worth a visit.



Only when I fully transition from author to editor does each plot point, character, setting and scene settle into a story. That’s when I found it if was the one I meant to write, the one I discovered along the way, or something else altogether.

I have to say this is one way I find poetry, songwriting and multimedia narratives to be easier labors. They’re quite sure of what and where they are and most certainly where they’re going. Even when they come in pieces.

Each form has its own charm of course. What novels lack in ease they make up for in capacity. Few structures can hold the complexity or allow the same immersion. (Though I admit the challenge of creating stories off the page that can and maintain their grace is compelling.) But first, it’s time to open the box and look at the novel with a fresh perspective, one last pass.

Wish me luck.

*Creative Pinellas welcomes submissions from practicing artists for publication in our artists directory. To submit, please fill out the form here. Such publication does not constitute on endorsement by Creative Pinellas and does not imply a judgement about the quality of the work or the participating artist.