Issue Seven Preview: Zora Neale Hurston.

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Before we started work on this upcoming issue, Annalemma sponsored a photo show in Orlando featuring all Floridian photographers, where I was introduced to Ted Hollins, a photographer who’s been documenting the Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities for 21 years. The ZORA festival takes place every January in Eatonville, a town six miles north of Orlando, where Zora Neale Hurston grew up. I hadn’t actually read any Zora when I grew up in Florida. Eatonville is a predominantly black community and I grew up deeply entrenched in an affluent white community. I remember seeing banners and signs with the word ZORA! scattered along the outskirts of Eatonville around that time of year but I had no idea what the word meant or what it was advertising. It wasn’t until college that I read Their Eyes Were Watching God and a number of her short stories, effectively falling in love with the writing. It was an intense shift in my perception to see mention of the outlying cities and places where I grew up, but through the lens of young black woman in a poor community.

When it came time to choose the featured artist for Issue Seven: Endurance, Jen O’Malley (our graphic designer and curator of the previously mentioned photo show) and I started talking about Ted. It seemed like a perfect fit: Ted’s been documenting the endurance of Eatonville, a community that’s successfully battled with Orange County officials against encroaching development and gentrification, a community that inspired a titan of literature who went on to inspire a generation of writers. I also thought it would be a cool idea to reprint one of her stories in order to give a more full portrait to those ignorant of her work and influence like I once was. So I called up HarperCollins and asked for the rights to reprint “Sweat”, a story about a woman enduring the torments of an abusive husband, and what that abuse ultimately leads her to do.

And in an effort to express our gratitude to the memory and work of Zora Neale Hurston, a portion of the proceeds of Annalemma Issue Seven: Endurance will go directly to The Hurston Museum in Eatonville, an organization dedicated to showcasing works of artists of African descent.

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Image: Ted Hollins

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