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Mark Patron

Stories are one of several important things passed on to us. Intangible as they are, these colorful clouds of smiles and pained gasps and hard knocks settle us into our seats as we stop and listen. We listen because one day we might live to have our own stories, the stories from yesteryear helping us with every step forward. The problem with stories is their ethereal nature. Unless grabbed by the neck and penned into existence, stories remain the wispy playthings of the wind, only ever manifesting in the back of our memories.

As a First-Generation American the power of stories is quite clear. My parents had no other way of showing me the culture I would inherit except with stories. My mother told me about my artisan great-grandfather. He makes lacquered boxes and small figurines of butterflies, cows, pigs, odd tomato shapes and gourds. She told me how whenever she would visit him, she was always swarmed by the local cats he fed to have a source of hair for his brushes. She told me how she stood inside a monster dust devil, latching on to a chain link fence praying. The wind whipped around her, the dust asphyxiating. My father instead told me an Aztec love story between two volcanos: Popocatepetl and Iztaccíhuatl.

I can remember the kids at my elementary school because they always had these bizarre stories and I discovered that children often have the best stories. I wouldn’t speak much, opting instead to listen as they excitedly looked to their crowd, eyes gleaming, hand on their hips. Growing up on the south side of Chicago, people who cared enough to genuinely listen to your stories, to be acknowledged was important to us, we just didn’t know it yet. These stories fueled my desire to create and there was never a shortage of stories, someone always had a story to tell whether it’s a pragmatic tale of caution or a silly tale of events.

I would hone my writing skill, eventually (after being forced to participate in a spoken word contest) I found myself writing poetry which only increased my reflections on writing. I was obsessed by the emotion brought in their stanzas. What was it about the delivery of emotion that I found so compelling? Eventually after reading the memoir The Color of Water by James Mcbride I realized why I gravitated so strongly to the emotion stories could rouse from the reader. The emotion made it real, it didn’t matter if the story already was real. If I could be brought to tears because of words on a page, I was sold. When the emotion communicated feels authentic, the story transcends the page and sticks to you. The message is understood, the knowledge consumed, it becomes a memory in the readers brain forever. We strive to bring your stories to life with the same excited breath you would use to tell it yourself.

So, tell me, what stories do you have to tell?