WILD RIVER BOOKS
A Celebration of Shrines
“Here’s one of my favorite shrines: the cribbage board my father and I used for forty-five years, at least a thousand games. The perfect space we made together.”
– Mark Lyons, Author of Brief Eulogies at Roadside Shrines (Wild River Books: October, 2014)
The Day of the Dead began as an Aztec celebration honoring ancestors; and the tradition continues, especially in the Mexican community. During the three day celebration around All Saints Day (October 31-November 2) families go to the cemetery and create altars—shrines decorated with food, marigolds, photos and favorite objects of the deceased. Then they feast with each other and their loved ones now gone to the other side, eating sugar cookies shaped like skulls and sweet egg bread. They tell stories of the departed, old stories told every year, new memories with twists and humor to add layers, deepen connections. Brief eulogies – remembrances that unite the leaver and the left.
Photo Credit: David Bacon
Our lives are surrounded by shrines that give meaning and create memories
and celebrations of people we have loved. These shrines might be a book that changed our life. Or a photograph. A bottle of wine. A special coat. A handprint left in wet cement. A spice. Or a song.
These shrines may be left alongside roads, on telephone poles, on our bookshelves or mantles, in our wallets and purses. We invite you to stop a moment, photograph a shrine that is a celebration, and send them it to us.
Photo Credit: Prince Roy
Photo Credit: Jay Bergsen
Photo Credit: Doug Glesler
Twenty one years ago, we watched a hummingbird build this nest while we waited to meet our son at FANA, an orphanage in Bogota, Colombia. After bringing him back to our friend’s home, we nested as did the momma bird, spending lots of time in the kitchen with Marta Lucia, as she cooked and chattered to herself. Six weeks later, on the day the momma bird and her babies departed, we received the sentencia that would allow us to return to the States with our son. Marta Lucia, the housekeeper who had never stopped working to raise her own children, realizing the importance of this nest for us, borrowed a ladder from a neighbor, climbed up the ivy covered and glass shard topped wall to retrieve this nest and triumphantly returned with it as a parting gift for us. It is a cherished shrine for mothers and babies everywhere.
Photo Credit: Annie Steinberg
Forty-eight years ago Rick Engler’s mother gave him these binoculars. Beat up, weather-worn, rubber washers added, lenses re-aligned, these are the only binoculars Rick has ever used on his hundreds of birding trips.
Photo Credit: Rick Engler
Photo Credit: Andy Stone
Celebration of Day of the Dead in Mexico
Photo Credit: Kevin
The most notable photos will be published on Brief Eulogies at Roadside Shrines page as a celebration of the publication of Mark Lyons’ new book.
To visit Brief Eulogies at Roadside Shrines and post your own shrines on Facebook, please click here.
Mark Lyons is co-director of the Philadelphia Storytelling Project, which uses digital storytelling in their work with teens and adult learners in summer workshops, computer courses and ESL classes. Participants write stories or interview others about their immigrant experience, record, edit and mix their stories, and create short audio stories. He also does workshops with teachers on doing community oral histories. He is the co-editor of Espejos y Ventanas / Mirrors and Windows, Oral Histories of Mexican Farmworkers and Their Families, which is published in Spanish and English. He developed a theater piece from the stories in the book, which was performed by local people at the Border Book Festival in New Mexico.
He has worked in the Latino community for the last twenty five years, as a health worker and community organizer. For eight years he was the director of the Farmworkers Health and Safety Institute, a consortium of grass-roots organizations in the U.S. and the Caribbean. The Institute trained farmworkers to use theater and other popular education methods to train other farmworkers concerning health and safety issues such as pesticides, field sanitation, housing, drinking water, HIV/AIDS and workers’ rights. He also worked for several years in a community health center, as a provider and health planner.
Mark’s collection of short stories, Brief Eulogies at Roadside Shrines, was published by Wild River Books in 2014. It was chosen as a Kirkus Reviews Book of the Year. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, is a recipient of Pennsylvania Council of the Arts fellowships for 2003 and 2009, and the J.P. McGrath Memorial Award from Whetstone Magazine. In addition, one of Mark’s stories was performed at the Writing Aloud Literary Series at the Interact Theater in Philadelphia.
ARTICLES BY MARK LYONS
Dreams and Nightmares: Notes from the Editor, working with Liliana Velasquez
Dreams and Nightmares/Sueños y Pesadillas
The Ecuadorians of Upper Darby
Espejos y Ventanas / Mirrors and Windows: Nuestras Historias en Español
Espejos y Ventanas / Mirrors and Windows: Our Stories in English
My Power Ranger Had One Leg: The Open Borders Youth Radio Project
The Youth Radio Project: Transcripts of Audio Stories
Welcome to Open Borders
Wild River Books
Brief Eulogies at Roadside Shrines – Arnold’s Roadside Café: Route 80, North Platte
Brief Eulogies at Roadside Shrines – Holy Roller
Brief Eulogies at Roadside Shrines: Security Risk
A Celebration of Shrines
Introduction to Brief Eulogies at Roadside Shrines: The Borders That Divide Us Are the Places We Find Each Other
Brief Eulogies at Roadside Shrines: Tlaxcala Red