Welcome to Mortar!


We are deeply grateful to all the wonderful authors who contributed their words and their voices to this inaugural issue. We were overwhelmed by the response to the project, and the volume of truly remarkable work since we opened our call for submissions in January has been both wonderful and astonishing. In this issue we found worked toward a focus on voices from queer lives, neurodivergent lives, and stories of oppression in areas of armed conflict, including those within the US. 

In the course of those submissions, we raised over $50 for the ACLU through our “Pay It Forward” tip jar submissions. We have decided to make this tip jar feature a permanent feature of the magazine moving into the future to support such organizations as the ACLU, the ADL, and the SPLC, as well as to keep as many free submissions open on Submittable as possible for those who cannot afford the tip jar option.

A thousand thanks to Pau, whose art lights up the entire issue. She has so much more to say about her work in her conversation with Mortar editor Cecilia Nowell, and I encourage you to delve into her extraordinary vision and mission in our art feature.

Many of the written pieces in this issue are accompanied by one of the murals from Pau’s Project Wallflower, a worldwide project to empower and enrich marginalized peoples and places, a project which she discusses at length in her artist interview. One of those works serves as our “cover image.” This particular work is the piece that first drew our attention to Pau. Cait and I saw it on the boardwalk at Asbury Park, New Jersey—a town known for its vibrant queer community—on the wall of an antique casino gutted by Hurricane Sandy. And we thought, wouldn’t it be amazing if we could get in touch with the artist who did that?

This mural is a celebration of and a tribute to the vibrancy of queer identity and of Pau’s own Latina heritage. Specifically, it is a fierce and glowing response to the attack at Pulse in Orlando last year. In keeping with our mission, and in our hope to continue forward in the face of loss as resolutely and brilliantly as such art, we wanted to mark Pride Month and the one-year anniversary of the devastation at Pulse by tying together our first issue with Pau’s remarkable image of beauty and resilience.     

In the face of current turmoil in the US, we are happy and proud to offer one more point to rally and resist. To stay true to our conviction that in times of turmoil and hatred the world needs more, not less, art. We will continue to do so, by making material efforts via our tip jar submission donations and by highlighting marginalized voices, especially writers of color, queer voices, and immigrant voices, in our forthcoming issues.


 Peace & safety to all our readers, and thank you so, so much for joining us for Mortar’s first issue.


In solidarity,

Ali Lanier