The Spring 2020 edition of Cellar Door was created at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, before students and staff evacuated campus, and released while all of us were home in quarantine. We are at the beginning of an uncertain time in America, and certainly for UNC. Though we glimpse, in the overpopulated hospitals of Milan, the shuttered walkways of Shanghai, that which may come to pass, it is impossible to know just how deeply we’ll feel the effects of COVID-19 in the years to come.
What we can only do now is what we know best: the importance of art, compassion, and community, which we must cultivate with great care, in ourselves and in those close to us. Things feel confusing and nebulous, and it’s essential in times like these to remember that the arts are a critical function— it’s how we bear witness to life, even in times of strife. Even as “We tell stories in order to live” becomes shopworn, it still rings true, especially now. We’ll keep telling these stories, of memory and justice and uncertainty and hope. (Or maybe you prefer Atwood to Didion: “A word after a word after a word is power.”) So we press on. I owe a debt of gratitude for the support of our tireless staff members, readers, and our student advisor, Professor Michael McFee, who have all come together to help guide us through these uncharted times. The work in this edition is reflexive and bright, flashingly brilliant, and reminds us that we’re alive, human, and together— if not in body, at least in spirit. From Will Lowder’s “Whispering My Body Electric,” page 3: “I will build. There will be a you and fireworks will explode and we will both look up. I will comfort those who are scared because I know what that is like.” We’ll build, and we’ll look up, and we’ll comfort one another, too.
Savannah Bradley, Editor-in-Chief