Storytelling is more than human tradition. It’s instinct. From oral creation stories of Native Americans, to cave-carvings of Egypt and Mesopotamia, to holy books and classic novels we’ve produced, even now with our digital media—laptops, phones, tablets—we can’t help but tell each other stories. It’s our nature. People tell stories while commuting on the train or bus. They get told daily in locker rooms. In line at Whole Foods, you’re bound to hear a juicy laugher. Gossipy teenagers devise compelling storylines, using common literary tricks, like character development and rising action. Want a riveting plot? Talk with a jailbird or ex-con. And it’s almost indisputable knowledge that homeless men and women have the best stories out there.
In New Mexico, storytelling is a way of life. It pulsates through our blood. The Puebloan, Apache, and Diné people here have carried on their histories and traditions orally for centuries, passing down memorized narratives to their children. Mejicano-americanos do this too, embedding memories, morals, and life lessons into our songs (our corridos) and our folktales. Not just as a source of entertainment, but as a way to exist. Our stories make claim to who we are, who we once were, and who we aspire to be. These claims are a part of the on-going plot that documents our experience and has since way before the written word or printing press.
Thus is the reason I am so proud, and honored, to be this year’s Fiction Editor for Blue Mesa Review: a publication created with a mission to amplify often marginalized voices. Founded in 1989 by New Mexico literary giant Rudolfo Anaya, Blue Mesa Review has regularly showcased what would be considered nontraditional talent, publishing work by many exceptional writers from the Southwest. In the Editor’s Note for Volume One, Anaya explains his intentions for BMR, writing that Blue Mesa Review is “a new literary magazine designed to serve the writers of our region.” Since then, BMR has featured many of the great Southwestern writers as editors and contributors. Ana Castillo, Joy Harjo, Leslie Marmon Silko, Rigoberto Gonzalez, Juan Morales, Denise Chavez, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Luis Urrea, the list goes on. Who’s next?
Yet, Blue Mesa Review is not a publication just for Southwestern readers and writers, as Anaya emphasized in the same volume. “Our focus is the Southwest,” he writes, “but we publish writers from any area.” And we’ve done just that. BMR reaches every corner of the continent and further, with an international readership. We’ve published the words of great writers like Robert Creeley, John Nichols, and Bobby Byrd. We prize that one thing that ties all storytellers together: a hunger to explore our humanity.
So, what makes us all human? That’s certainly one tough question with too many answers to list here. But, with that question in mind, no matter who you are or how you identify, if you’ve got a good story, please tell it to us. We want to give it an honest read. If you’re a woman, a member of the LBGTQ community, African American, Native, Asian, Caucasian, please, send them in. If you’re Latinx or Middle Eastern or use a medical device for transport, we want to hear what you got to say. If you’re tall, big, small, left-handed, own six cats, love Ellen and CBD products like we do, please send us your work. If you’re terminally-ill, have been enslaved, entrapped, manipulated, appropriated, accused, abused, we want to give you a voice. If you need a place to scream, to cry, to laugh, we’d love to provide you one. But, whatever you write, make it feel human. Whatever you do, make it you.