This extraordinary year is finally over. No matter who you are, 2020 has likely brought you extraordinary pain and isolation in some way. For many Black, brown, queer, and trans people living in rural America, the isolation may be old hat. It is still heavy, and it’s here to stay for a long while more. My hope is that whoever and wherever you are, you have also felt, as often as possible this year, joy and love. For me and many others, joy has come most readily from artists. From the writers, musicians, actors, painters whose work we surround ourselves with, whose work lets us hold another piece of the human experience.
In Mount Island No. 6, our “year-end” issue, we share the work of four poets, two of whom live in our home state of Vermont. Erick Benick queers the West Virginia cryptid, Mothman. Michael Chang honors the trashiness of modern desire, and Eileen Lynch sings of dawn in a college town. Rajnii Eddins wants to write about trees, but cannot, will not. Our cover art by Hubert Neal Jr is an image of extraordinary pain, depicting the 2016 shooting of Paul O’Neal by Chicago police. Several more of Hubert Neal Jr’s paintings are featured inside, telling a story the world should recognize.
I should also take this opportunity to announce the departure of Shanta Lee Gander from her role as our Director of Outreach & Publicity. Shanta has done wonderful work to advance our mission and share what we do with the public, and we are forever grateful for her. Her debut book of poetry, GHETTOCLAUSTROPHOBIA, is forthcoming in June 2021 from Diode Editions.
Until next year,
Artist Hubert Neal Jr
Hubert Neal Jr grew up in the city of Chicago to parents from Belize, Central America. From as far back as he can remember, his favorite activities were reading and drawing, incessantly. Neal attended The School of Architecture, Art, and Planning at Cornell University, where he studied painting, drawing, photography, and graphic design. By this time he’d decided to start having his own solo exhibitions every semester, because he wanted to ensure that he was ready to be a “professional.” For the longest time, he was concerned with being the most technically proficient artist possible, but he evolved to realize that artist’s have power—the power to influence. He decided he could do more, and so he uses his art to address social issues. Neal has exhibited at home in the United States, as well as places as rich and varied as India, Jamaica, and Belize. Neal’s current exhibit, Black & Blue, is on view at iv Gallery in Los Angeles.