Cover art by Britten Traughber

Mount Island No. 5


blood petition: a prayer of reckoning

by Brittny Ray Crowell

2020 Lucy Terry Prince Prize Winner

The Big Day

by Jordan Charlton

2020 Lucy Terry Prince Prize 1st Runner-up

Can You Taste the Ivory Coast Chocolate?

by Mervyn R. Seivwright

2020 Lucy Terry Prince Prize 2nd Runner-up

wing-borne flute aloft

This Is Not A Non-Violent Suicide Poem #2

The seemingly unrelated thoughts that clamor 24/7 through a Poet’s mind as he cogitates the reality that status quo denies in lieu of the Dream

Plantation Lullabies, or the Politics of Dancing

by henry 7. reneau, jr.

Prime Two-Day Shipping

by Ellen Ricks

Real Niggas of America: The Hero’s Journey with No Resolution Black Love: A Bastardization

by Shailen Scott


Photos from Ten and Malama Pono

by Britten Traughber

Editor’s Note

Don’t expect this slim summer issue to be a picnic. Delicious, yes, but full of pain and frustration. Pain like fireworks, yes, beauty that erupts and dazzles. Sometimes that’s all there is to eat; sometimes the sky is on fire. Even in these times, perhaps especially, poetry remains potent. Our need to express, to erupt and dazzle, remains delicious.

In this issue we celebrate the winners of our first contest, the Lucy Terry Prince Prize for rural poets of color. Named for the first known African-American poet in English literature—a free, landowning woman in colonial Vermont—the prize is a reclamation of our untold histories, an affirmation that rural voices have always been and can always be proudly Black and brown. Celebrated Vermont poet Major Jackson served as the prize’s inaugural judge, and he chose three poems that dance and reckon with pain, history, pleasure: a round of would you rather between the living and the dead; the secret heart of a best man’s speech; a pantoum in the rhythm of modern child labor on Ivory Coast cocoa farms. Read our original announcement of the prize winners and finalists on our blog.

Submissions are open for our autumn issue. To make up for the lack of two missed issues due to the pandemic, we’ve made this issue, No. 5, available for free on our website. If you are able to make a tax-deductible donation to Mount Island at this time, your support would mean very much to us and the writers we publish. Learn how to donate on our website.

—Desmond Peeples


Photos from Ten and Malama Pono by Britten Traughber

Photographer Britten Traughber.

“My practice as a photographer is centered on community, identity and storytelling—whether that involves women in Hawaii, 10-year-olds, drag queens, or burlesque dancers. I love working with people. As a curious child growing up in rural Illinois, my favorite activities included exploring outside all day and visiting my older neighbors who shared their stories with me. This love of adventure and history is what drives my work, and in recent years I’ve turned the camera on myself to address my own story of loss, trauma and discovery growing up as a queer kid in a small town.”

Mount Island




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Online: 2373-521X

Copyright @ 2020 Mount Island Press, LLC