Jaymes Johnson

A New Place

Mentor: Peter Huk

Project Proposal

A Confluence is a novella based on real life events. During the winter of 2008, California middle school student Lawrence “Larry” King was murdered by a classmate. Larry King was a fifteen year old child in the foster care system who happened to be working through his own LGBTQ identity. After expressing affection toward his male classmate days before Valentine’s day, Larry was shot and killed by that student during English class. In the aftermath of the murder investigation, competing narratives arose around the truth of the incident and the characters of these two young people— chiefly, whether Larry had provoked his own murder. Informed by the fictional imaginations of Jennifer duBois (Cartwheel), Ann Patchett (State of Wonder), and Toni Morrison (Beloved), A Confluence offers a fictional exploration into our innate ideas of perception: how they are created for others and ourselves, and how so many of these mental constructions are built upon foundations of fear and trauma perpetuated by the media.

Final Project

A New Place is a collection of personal essays that plumb the themes of identity: black, queer, spiritual through and through. And don’t forget nerdy. Jaymes offers an honest, and at times beautiful, account of what it is like to be on a journey toward wholeness in a world seemingly built for ruin.

cover for A New Place

There are stories about being a closeted gay kid in catholic school, losing his brother to gun violence as a preteen, discovering a love for literature through the work of Toni Morrison, and finding a sense of peace through Yoga Teacher Training after the death of his mother and leaving a job in tech. A New Place is at times a snapshot of healing in motion.

As he says in the foreword, “Time marches forward incessantly, and nearly every week, incessant images of black men and women in extremis, gay boys, lesbian girls, our transgendered brothers and sisters are routinely put into the palms of our hands, into our very backpacks and purses. I felt that it was time to comment on this pain, to process my own, especially through the lens of spirituality and even mysticism. That is what this project became.”In lyrical prose and heart wrenching poetry, Jaymes is intent on asking big questions and taking readers on a journey in fragments through the eyes, memories, and the art of a sensitive black man.    

Read a draft here and more at the website created for this project.