"Not far from our school there was a railroad tunnel that a man could climb up into, and you could lay down between the rafters in the bottom of the mountain, stare down at the tracks and watch the trains come underneath you. Now I say a man could do this, ‘cuz no woman would ever be stupid enough to." – Bill Lepp, The Seventh Second
Storytellers and storytelling is new to me. It’s not new to me so much as a way to communicate, as I come from a long line of storytellers on both sides of my family. My mom is from a small town in western Kentucky and my dad is from Dublin, Ireland. It’s as natural as breathing. We craft self-contained stories for everything from childbirth to car wrecks to the shenanigans our kids get into. We enjoy reading and watching movies and talking…and talking and talking. What I didn’t realize is that storytelling is an entire creative genre where the tellers are not only dedicated to their craft, but also to other tellers like family and to the desire to see this genre have a future in the next generation.
We were introduced to this genre by a librarian at our local library that we all call Miss Pockets. She was the children’s programmer for several years and she read stories and told them to children of various ages. She also encouraged innovative programming and one of the programs she worked hard to get off the ground was storytelling. She encouraged those she knew who used the library programs to prepare a story to tell and to compete in the Kentucky Youth Storytelling Showcase. Our daughter Emilee has always enjoyed reading stories and writing stories and she has had the opportunity to "tell" stories through the local community theater. So, she wrote a short story that she could use to enter the showcase and in the end, was awarded the Kentucky Torchbearer for the high school division last fall. It was unexpected and exciting.
After her win, we were told that her story was being submitted to the National Youth Storytelling Showcase committee for consideration at the national level. 20 kids from age 6 to 17 would be chosen, and only 4 of those at the high school level…and she was chosen. What a thrill for us and especially for her! Buck Creacy, the president of the Kentucky Storytelling Association, came to see A Christmas Carol where Emilee was performing as the narrator at our community theater and he announced to the audience after the program that she would be going to Pigeon Forge, TN for the Showcase. Buck has been such and encouragement to her and is a great storyteller himself. (See my storytelling links)
Emilee & Buck at Glema Mahr Center in Madisonville, KY
As I’ve mentioned here, we went to TN to attend the Showcase and it was 4 days of a great education in storytelling. There were many workshops and concerts featuring professional storytellers. Emilee had the opportunity to participate in interactive workshops with the other kids and to receive instruction, criticism and encouragement from: Bill Lepp, Carmen Deedy, Willy Claflin, Kim Weitcamp, Bill Harley and others. At the concerts, we heard hilarious stories, musical stories, scary stories and inspiring stories. I want to do it all over again…and we may get the chance if Emilee’s audition for Jonesboro, TN means she gets invited to the National Storytelling Festival. If not and even so, we now have a storyteller on our hands and we’re looking forward to whatever opportunities come her way.
Please visit my storytelling links, and find out what storytelling is all about!