Voodoo or vodun ingredients for an dark ritual, witchcraft and african religion, talisman, incense, crow´s feet and gems

A. Rafael Johnson


I am my haint. I haunt my own body.

About me

A. Rafael Johnson is a writer, educator, consultant, public speaker, ​and the author of The Through, finalist for the 2018 Minnesota Book ​Award, and co-author of Creative Evaluation & Engagement: ​Essentials. A Kimbilio Fellow, his newest story Morrison's Note ​questions the nature of our shared reality through metafiction. ​Johnson is working on a sequel to The Through entitled Follow The ​Sun.

A. Rafael Johnson teaches creative writing at The University of ​Nebraska at Omaha MFA program and the Minneapolis College of ​Art and Design. Johnson co-owns Inspire to Change, a consulting ​firm. He is based in Minneapolis.


from The Through.

Adrian developed too early. Men began to notice her when she turned ten and still ​played with dolls. Adrian took a pair of rounded school scissors and cut the curly ​hair off her black Barbie.

“You nappy headed,” she declared. “You so ugly.”

Adrian spent a week painstakingly weaving straight blonde hair into the dolls ​short locks, but the plastic wouldn’t hold. The hair fell off. She tried to glue the ​hair straight onto the doll’s head, but dry glue drips made the doll even uglier, ​deformed from a hidden cancer bubbling to the surface. Adrian threw the doll ​into the back of her bedroom closet but couldn’t sleep, so she moved the doll ​under her bed and stayed up all night thinking about her, then finally buried the ​doll in her backyard under the shade of her mother’s banana leaf palm in lower ​New Orleans, dirty, crying, scratching the dirt of her mother’s garden with a cheap ​trowel. A man noticed her.

Available from Jaded Ibis Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and your local ​bookseller

Previous work

“"Morrison's Note." Temenos Journal, 2022.

Creative Evaluation and Engagement: Essentials. KDP, 2020.

"The Gena Child”. Spacecraft Projects, 2020.

"The Boy Who Climbed His Mother into Heaven." Spacecraft Projects, 2020.

The Through. Jaded Ibis Press, 2017.

"Wince: George and Trayvon." in Lunch Ticket, 2012. Anthologized in Excavating Honesty: An Anthology of Hope and Rage In America. Paper Nautilus Press, 2017.

"Celosia." The Pen Is Mightier. Vol. 1. Tuscaloosa: Slash Pine Press, 2014.

"Bell and Cut Mary Somewhere in the Sugarcane." African American Review 46.4 (2014): 768-70.

"Tuscaloosa, Tuscaloosa." The Pen Is Mightier. Vol. 1. Tuscaloosa: Slash Pine Press, 2014.

"Race and the Avatar." Tuscaloosa Writes This. Ed. Patti White and Brian Oliu. Tuscaloosa: Slash Pine Press, 2013.

"Sweet Smell of Success." Liver of Dixie: An Egan's Anthology. Tuscaloosa: Broken Futon Press, 2013.

"The Big Bobby Wilkerson." Echolocation 12 (2012).

Yes We Can: Locally Generated Reading Materials. United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Monrovia, Liberia, 2011.

Cuttington Anthology of Liberian Literature. Vol. 1. Suakoko: Cuttington UP, 2011.

Black Warrior Review 34.3. 2009.

Fairy Tale Review: The White Issue. 2008.

Fairy Tale Review: The Violet Issue. 2007.

“Tamara Hoover Returns.” Whorizontal for Whoospy! Magazine. Holt Publications, 2007.

“Jac.” Whorizontal for Whoospy! Magazine. Holt Publications, 2007.

“Grupo Fantasma.” Whorizontal for Whoospy! Magazine. Holt Publications, 2007.

“Foxxies.” Whorizontal for Whoospy! Magazine. Holt Publications, 2007.

“Dr. Natasha.” Whorizontal for Whoospy! Magazine. Holt Publications, 2007.

“HUG Dancers.” Whorizontal for Whoospy! Magazine. Holt Publications, 2006.

Where ya been?

Over the past ten or so years, I’ve been fairly prolific. In addition to writing fiction, I ​regularly present at conferences, write for Inspire to Change, and teach workshops.

At least, I used to. So what happened?

In March 2023, I was diagnosed with heart failure (non-ischemic cardiomyopathy). ​I didn’t respond to the standard treatment, and was given 5-10 years to live. Our ​hope was that we’d find a clinical trial or get me onto the transplant list. Given the ​prognosis, I decided to focus on my current manuscript and hold off on any public ​appearances, workshops, or consulting.

And then one day, I saw my cardiologist and she had wonderful news: my heart was ​repairing itself. What changed, why now, we don’t know. But the good news is that I ​I’m writing more as my strength and endurance returns.

Shout outs

Transparent Image of a Microphone

Seeing students, friends, and colleagues succeed brings a special kind of happiness. Check out these new books.


Fiction and Writing

The Slowdown Show, episode 1050: To the Woman Crying Uncontrollably in the Next Stall.

Short Story Today: Episode #15 - Morrison's Note (audio)

Black Market Reads: Minnesota Book Award Finalist A. Rafael Johnson on trauma, memory, ​and magical realism (audio)

Minnesota Book Awards 36 Finalists Blog: A. Rafael Johnson (text)

Black Market Reads: Remembering Toni Morrison at the 2019 Twin Cities Book Festival(audio)

TwinCities.com / St. Paul Pioneer Press: The Through is a magical read infused with the idea ​of Africa. (text)

A. Rafael Johnson: The TNB Self-Interview (text)

The Loft Podcast: Fairy Tales #2: Minotaur Missives, Dreadful Young Ladies, and Magic as ​Realism (audio)

Other Topics

Radical (Re)Imagining: Nora Murphy Johnson and A. Rafael Johnson (audio)

Evaluation Cafe Episode #32: Evaluation Games with Friends (audio)

Evaluation Cafe Episode #25: Makin' It In Evaluation (audio)

AEA365: Contribution, Leadership, and Renewal: Perspective from a path less traveled by A. Rafael Johnson (text)


Faculty Mentor

The University of Nebraska at Omaha MFA Program

Adjunct Professor

Minneapolis College of Art and Design

Fiction Mentor

The Loft Literary Center


The University of Alabama

Visiting Expatriate Assistant Professor

Cuttington University


MFA in Creative Writing

2013, The University of Alabama

BA in Drama

1993, The University of Texas at Austin

A. Rafael Johnson

Get in ​touch



or follow me on Instagram at ​a_rafael_johnson

A. Rafael Johnson is a fiscal year 2024 recipient of a Creative Individuals grant from the ​Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a ​grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts ​and cultural heritage fund.