Thursday, September 24, 2009

I can't spell CLiF

I have recently been to a conference that is held bi-annually - the Children's Literacy Foundation Conference held in White River Junction, VT. It is a wonderful event where rural librarians get together and ask a panel of peers who have excelled in doing something really well how they do it. They also have a great key speaker. I have now met and seen Katherine Patterson and Natalie Kinsey-Warner and this year I got to hear and see artist John Stadler. I always come home with a stack of ideas, and my gray matter wondering what else I can do at my library. But not only that. I come away wondering wondering what I can do better as a storyteller and as a human being. I feel my brain kicking into some kind of overdrive. I wonder what I can do to better what I offer people professionally and personally. What added value can I give to people, not just strangers or clients, but also friends and family, most of all at home. These are the people who are closest to us and these are sometimes the ones that get the short end of the stick, the very ones who support us every day. Sometimes it takes a little reminder. And there was yours!

CLiF asks for donations at the conference. They are a non-profit and rely totally on money coming from people just like you. The first time Duncan, the director of CLiF, asked for donations I was overcome by some strange force (maybe it was goodness) that had me stand up and offer to a room of librarians I would do a performance for free at the library who bid the most. I thought it might encourage folks to put a little more in than they might otherwise have done so. Well, I was bid on and the highest bid that year was around $250. I felt good about that. This year I did the same thing again and the higest bid was $500 so I was thrilled, but I know that this is a reflection of how important CLiF is and the work they do is not only important, but necessary and I was glad to help in the way that I could.

What can you do?

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Waits River Elemnentary School

I have just returned from a great gig at Waits River Elementary School, East Corinth, VT. It was a late start to their school year due to construction - 6 days late, and I was invited to perform first thing in the morning in front of all the kids and some of their parents as well as school teachers and administrators. I only had a very short 30 minutes, but managed two stories: The True Story of Goldilocks (a new one for me) and The Goat From the Hills and Mountains. Each story was 15 minutes and I had a great time. It was difficult, or at least a little tricky, to come up with a couple of tales all the kids would enjoy, what with it being in age from kindergarten to 8th grade - 13 years of age - plus the 'grown-ups'. But what I did appeared to work.

It was a really nice thing to be invited to kick off the school year with the whole school. I called out to everyone 'is everyone glad to be back' and I got a resounding cheer for everyone. At least, if there were any nay-sayers they were well and truly drowned out by the others. It was so good to see everyone pumped to be back after the holidays.
Photo by Rob Rinaldi, thanks!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

New Upcoming Performances

I have two new dates to tell folks about and I will begin with the second!

I have been asked to tell tales at the First Ever Granite State Storytelling Festival which is to be held on the 17th October at the Tracy Memorial Library in New London, NH. There will be 24, yes twenty four storytellers at this event at four arenas, so no matter what sort of storytelling you like to listen to there has to be someone for you. I hope that it is me! There will be stories for children, families, and adults; there will be ghost stories and an evening event. This festival is NOT to be missed. Not only will yours truly be there, but so will Odds Bodkin, Carolyn Parrott, Hopkinton, NH; Jo Radner,Lovell, ME; Lorraine Hartin Gelardi, Salt Hill, NY; Leeny Del Seamonds, Westford, MA; Lauretta Phillips and Sisters Too, Andover, NH; Bob Reiser, East Hampton,MA and many, many more! For more details please go to:

The first and shortly arriving new performance is to be held in New Bedford, MA on Saturday September 26th. This is NOT for children, these stories are for adults.

From Aloft (or more accurately, from the gray matter)

“A terrible scream was heard as he fell from aloft, but silence followed after hitting the deck.” A ghost story from the seven seas will come with the voices of many from one man as will other tales that Simon Brooks will tell. Tales of loves lost and won, (as well as property), and maybe some personal tales too (the latter is well rare, so be out for that, if nothing more) and maybe a fairy tale to take home with you. Adults allowed. Children are not!

ADULT OPEN MIC: Sign up for your ten minute turn at the mic beginning at 7:00 p.m. Share your own story, song, music, essay or poem.
7:00 P.M. – 9:00 P.M. (Feature begins at 8:00 P.M.)
LOCATION: Artworks, 384 Acushnet Avenue, New Bedford, MA
ADMISSION: FREE (pass the hat for the featured performer)
AUDIENCE: 18 and older
For more information email Karen Chace at or call Artworks at(508) 984-1588
For directions:
Sponsored by Artworks! Partners for the Arts & Community

ArtWorks! is supported in part by the MCC as well as business and individual members

Summer Stories

One of the great things about storytelling, is that it is a community event. It can be a small community, such as family, where we all sit around listening to each other’s tales; or a group of friends talking about their day, or vacation, or latest adventure in sports. Or it can be the larger community, like a summer camp, a school, or festival on the green where people tell their tales in a performance space, or under the storytelling tree. Without someone to tell stories with or to, storytelling does not exist. This is one of my favourite parts of storytelling; it is a community event. Over the summer I went to thirty four different communities, some large and some small, but all wonderful.

It is really good when someone else puts on a good festival and invites everyone to come and share, especially when it is to pay back their own customers. In my Upper Valley community of N.H. and VT there is a store that every year puts on a couple of events, one of which is their Producers Faire. Local farms and businesses who sell goods at the Lebanon, NH Coop get to give away their products. The Coop also brings in entertainment such as singers, one-man circuses, hay rides, and (this is I came in) storytellers! I must have told about 50 stories that day. Stories that ranged from Three Little Pigs to the White Trout (an ancient Irish fairy tale for older ears). It was such a good event, watching people coming and going, eating and drinking with smiles on their faces on a glorious summer day. Everyone gets to go to this faire for free and has a great deal of fun. It is a way of giving back to the community.

One of the best experiences of the year, so far for me, was when I went to CAMP! (Camp Exclamation Point) in West Fairlee, Vermont. I have been there for their mid-week literacy day, doing storytelling there late into the night, for a number of years now, but this year I did an ‘Awesome’ (a daily activity that runs the whole week) with one of the camp councilors, Erica. We teamed up to do a “Drama-rama” play with the children, incorporating storytelling. It was fun to have the kids find a tale to tell about their time spent at this camp. CAMP! is for kids who suffer from lack of social, and economic insecurities, amongst other things, kids who are not given a ‘fair’ start in life, one might say. Erica and I and the kids then took the stories and put them into a frame, which was: the only boy in our group stumbling into a girls’ tent getting lost at night and swapping stories. It worked really well and the kids were amazing. All of them (apart from two who got sick) went ahead and performed in front of the other campers and did a splendid job. In four hours, over four days, we put together a 10-15 minute play where the kids spoke their lines clearly, performed with style and confidence. It was a joy to be part of the experience.

Not only that, it was great to see the same councilor still there and be welcomed as one of the family.