Volume 26 (2021)

A Message to the Reader:

As we near the end of a tough cycle in all of our lives, the mOthertongue Editorial Board would like to wish you well, and we hope these words of many languages bring you feelings of joy, hope, resilience, or make you feel seen and heard through shared pain and troubles. With the rise of COVID-19 and the resurgence of anti-Black racism, anti-Asian racism, transphobic turmoil, and overall lapses in humanity’s true nature of being beautiful, we hope that the end of such a tough time marks a newfound sense of restored faith in humanity.

We are writing to highlight the experiences of those with voices that are typically silenced or not taken seriously. Our journal strives to show the mere beginnings of the infinite possibilities available to us due to the way languages are interconnected with people’s identity and cultures, and the widened scope we as readers and writers have access to due to the art and practice of translation. The three editors of mOthertongue strive to show that literary creation is not limited to the English language—with its dominance in and outside the US-American sphere—just as goodwill is not limited to any group of people over another.

If there is anything this year has taught us, it’s that social and cultural norms will never be the same. We’ve been restricted from giving our loved ones a kiss on each cheek, a hug, or even from letting a stranger see our smiles; our traditions—the very things that bind us together— had to be put on hold. In order to reflect these changes in traditions, we have decided to change a few things with this year’s issue. As this year’s political upheaval has made us more aware of how racism and other forms of bigotry still govern our society on a micro and macro level, we hope that this year’s issue of mOthertongue works against this as a force for good.

For this purpose of being an agent for positive change in a world of troubled health and overall conflict, we at mOthertongue are proud to feature work this year whose vulnerability begs readers to see beyond themselves and their own limited spheres of perception or understanding of the world. In this issue, we have included poetry and prose that deeply explores natural human emotions through languages other than English. We’ve also included other works that are in English from nonnative speakers. Hence, pieces like these are a deviation from one’s “mOthertongue.” This year we are featuring texts and visual art that push against the norms of the various languages and cultures they are associated with. The work we as editors of mOthertongue are presenting to you is as heterogeneous as you, our audience.

We are all cut from the same cloth, each individual embroidered with flower petals or white skulls or jewel-toned fruits with special care from whomever, whatever, whichever culture, higher power, collective power, or upbringing. We are ready to celebrate similarities and appreciate differences. After all, who is truly human without our differences and imperfections?

Full Issue