A Story For The Telling

Seal

Seal

There is an old Celtic story about a seal who swam the icy waters in freedom and absolute joy. The creature moved through the water with grace and speed and total confidence.

One day the seal saw a man wandering the shores of a tiny island and fell in love….day after day she would wait in the waters watching as the man traveled the sandy strip from tiny houses to other buildings.   Excitement made her quiver the day he came to the water’s edge and she saw the male beauty of him and felt a mad desire to be with him….
Now certain seals, it is said, have the power to shed their seal flesh and don that of the human.  In the cold night, by the light of a pale moon, she did just that and set off to meet the man.  They fell in love and soon the man learned of her secret.  He adored her and longed to be with her….but he feared as well.   What if she left him?  How could he live? His friends would laugh at finding a woman and then losing her.   So he hid her seal skin and she was trapped in her woman suit.
She was not altogether sad at this state of affairs.  He was handsome and charming, but sometimes when the day was drawing to a close he could see her glance out the window as if hearing the lap of the tide.  As much as she loved her husband and adored her children, there were times when her woman skin didn’t sit right and she would squirm as if to escape its ill-fitting layers.  Everyone always said she must adjust.  If she would only learn to live in peace and obedience.   If she just became a better wife and mother…..
Time passed and children came to make her laugh and light her eyes, but sometimes as the laughter faded there seemed to be an echo of another life…of another self that was no longer…and once more the skin felt odd, bulky, and dry.
One day while her husband was out on the sea in his boat, one of the children found something and ran to show it to his mother.    Seeing her son race across the sand she almost didn’t recognize the thing he carried clutched to his heart.  Then it came rushing back to her…that was who she was….that was what she had been meant to be…
All else was forgotten as the memories swamped her.  She took the bundle and slipped into it with a sense of coming home. Despite the children, and her husband, she raced to the water and dove into the bubbling surf.    Feeling once more the soaring thrill as she darted through the waves and leaped in the air before sunning herself on a  warm bed of sand….she knew only a sense of completeness.
She gloried in the feel of the smooth skin covering her bones and moving with her muscles. She laughed as the sun sparkled on the dancing waves and she flipped into the shadows of the watery depths.  Yes, that was who she was and she had almost forgotten it.   No wonder the other skin had felt so tight and awkward as she struggled to be that other person…
Floating in that other world…in her true world….she looked longingly at her children on the sand.  She wanted to stay, yet she ached at the thought of leaving this new freedom behind. Suddenly her son swam out to her and for a long moment they stared into each other’s eyes.   With his slicked hair and wide dark eyes he looked very much a seal in the rippling water. For long minutes they bobbed in the waves looking into each others eyes.
“It’s alright mother….you are our mother but you are also a seal-woman. I have never seen you so happy as you are in this moment.  How can we take that from you?  We love you and want you to be content.”
He reached out a hand and they looked in awe as the hand revealed  tiny webbing between the fingers.  She would always be with them they realized no matter what form she took.  They could make it work if they could learn to unite the two worlds in respect and wisdom and love.   Laughing, they shot upwards and then dove together into the deep blue water.
For years and seasons and decades – the family went each year to the beach to play, to laugh and visit with woman who returned to the sea but never left their hearts.
Marilyn A. Hudson
2009

THE RURAL MUSEUM OF POETRY HOSTS TELLABRATION

Nov. 10 a celebration of storytelling will be shared at ROMP – the Rural Oklahoma Museum of Poetry, a one-of-a-kind endeavor by poet, storyteller and educator, Shaun Perkins and is located in Locust Grove OK

The Rural Oklahoma Museum of Poetry, in conjunction with the Mayes County Storytellers, will host a Tellabration event of interactive poetry and storytelling from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., at the museum in rural Locust Grove.

The event will include a tour of the museum, an interactive poetry experience, storytelling around a bonfire, and smores. Everyone is invited.

Admission is by donation. All proceeds benefit the development of the museum as it nears its completion.   For more information, visit the museum website  or email or call curator Shaun Perkins at 918-864-9152.

 

The Old Angus Barn – The Stuff of Stories

Nov. 17 will be a Tellabration at the Ole Angus Barn, located south of Seminole, 6:30 p.m.

Go 12 miles south of Seminole or north of Ada on HWY 99 until you reach EW 134, cemetery road, turn west and go approximately 1 mile. Lights will be on in the barn, go past the barn, and you’ll see the driveway on the south.

Featured storytellers will be Western humorist award recipient Sky Shivers and multi-talented Teresa Black. Host and hostess, Phillip Harjo and Jeanette Harjo, will share a story. A couple of guest pickers, storytellers and a poet may also join the party. We’ll gather at the campfire near the entrance of the Ole Angus Barn. There will be some seating, but you may want to throw in a lawn chair or blanket. In the case of inclement weather we’ll move into the main aisle of the barn. For additional information contact: Jeanette or Phillip Harjo at jmharjo@hotmail.com, 405-398-4310 or 405-380-3633.

Seminole Wind Ranch is part of the Brass Horse Enterprises of Phillip and Jeanette Harjo in Maud, Oklahoma. They invite you to “enjoy the beauty of Oklahoma” by spending a day, an evening, or a weekend on a working horse ranch. There they also provide customized workshops, writing retreats, photography, storytelling, and celebrations for birthdays, anniversary’s and more. They also do special holiday programs and events.

As the “Ole Angus Barn” develops there will be  added spooky stories and events for October, a “Tellabration” (a celebration of storytelling) and treats for November, and capping the year in December will be Christmas and family stories.

Hosting these great events will be coach and educator Philip Harjo, “Bear Clan and Peacemaker”, is retired military with lots of experience as speaker and seminar leader. He is also Chief of Staff of the Seminole Nation. His wife, Jeanette Harjo, describes herself as “Country Girl with Attitude” and is a gifted storyteller as well as library media specialist, educational consultant, school board member, and mid-wife to mares.

Contact them soon to schedule your next event or to learn what they can do for your group or organization.

Seminole Wind Ranch
13451 HWY 99
Maud, Oklahoma 74884
Phone: 405-398-4310 ; 405-380-3633
Email: jmharjo@hotmail.com
13 miles south of Seminole and 20 miles north of Ada

Tellabrate With Us!! November Showcases Storytelling Around the State

TouchtheStars c 2008

Tellabration – – a special event celebrated around the nation and the world  shares the wonder and magic of oral storytelling to audiences comprised mostly of adults but also sometimes for children and families.   The tellers are experienced, sometimes masterful, artisans who craft stories to enthrall, amuse, challenge, and inspire dreams. In November communities all around the world will focus on sharing a one of  kind experience as stories light up the deep autumn night.

Around Oklahoma catch one or more of the following events:

Nov. 10 
ROMP Tellabration
Locust Grove OK
The Rural Oklahoma Museum of Poetry, in conjunction with the Mayes County Storytellers, will host a Tellabration event of interactive poetry and storytelling from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., at the museum in rural Locust Grove.The event will include a tour of the museum, an interactive poetry experience, storytelling around a bonfire, and smores. Everyone is invited. Admission is by donation. All proceeds benefit the development of the museum as it nears its completion.For more information, visit the museum website rompoetry.com or email or call curator Shaun Perkins at 918-864-9152.

Nov. 13
Choctaw Public Library Tellabration
2525 Muzzy, Choctaw, 6:00 p.m.
Tellers include Rosemary Czarski, Susie Beasley, Liz Parker, Molly Lemmons, Marilyn Hudson, Kathryn Thurman, Barbara Jones, and Carol Roberts. Contact Choctaw Library for more information, 390-8418.

Nov. 17
Tellabration at the Ole Angus Barn
South of Seminole, 6:30 p.m.
Go 12 miles south of Seminole or north of Ada on HWY 99 until you reach EW 134, cemetery road, turn west and go approximately 1 mile. Lights will be on in the barn, go past the barn, and you’ll see the driveway on the south. Featured storytellers will be Western humorist award recipient Sky Shivers and multi-talented Teresa Black. Host and hostess, Phillip Harjo and Jeanette Harjo, will share a story. A couple of guest pickers, storytellers and a poet may also join the party. We’ll gather at the campfire near the entrance of the Ole Angus Barn. There will be some seating, but you may want to throw in a lawn chair or blanket. In the case of inclement weather we’ll move into the main aisle of the barn. For additional information contact: Jeanette or Phillip Harjo at jmharjo@hotmail.com, 405-398-4310 or 405-380-3633.

Nov. 17
Apache Tellabration
Clarke-Hobart Building, Apache, 7:00 p.m.
Storytelling and a youth singing group. For more information contact Sam McMichael or Steve Kardaleff.

Nov. 18
Cordell Tellabration
Integris Village Retirement Center, 701 E. 12th Street, near intersection of Crider Road and E. 14th Street. 4:00p.m.
Featured tellers include Chester Weems, Molly Lemmons, Loralee Cooley, Straw (LaVerne) Berry, and Ed Cooley. Contact Loralee for more information.

KUDOS TIME: WHO WOULD YOU APPRECIATE?

Plutarch said, “never blame or praise yourself”, but sometimes we also fail to praise others for the work they do, the enjoyment they convey or the dreams they share. We fail to appreciate their unique qualities in the face of terrible, and sometimes negative, forces of conformity and standardization.

As a Japanese quote says: “If one man praises you, a thousand will repeat the praise”, so add a comment about a storyteller YOU know. Just a line about their skills, an enjoyed tale, or a potential they possess. Young, old, and those still undecided will benefit and be encouraged to not keep those stories to themselves any longer.

Add a comment and express your appreciation…..

HIRING A STORYTELLER: BASICS 101

TouchtheStars. c2008

Sometimes people decide, “Hey, let’s get somebody to tell stories!” They often have no clue as to what is needed in presenting a quality storytelling experience. The first question to ask is “why do I want a storyteller?” Having a clear rationale will help you convey exactly what you need from the storyteller and improve the entire experience.’You mean I have to pay?!” Storytellers, like other performers, usually charge for the services they render. The following prices cover the range from experienced to national name. The storyteller researches, learns, and perfects their art in the same manner that dancers or musicians do. In addition, differing ages require different levels and types of stories. Many hours of prep work proceed any storytelling event.

A survey of artists currently working (in Oklahoma and elsewhere) reveals full performance of 40-60 minutes usually costs about $100 to $1500, plus mileage or transportation /meals/board.

A short performance of about 20-30 minutes usually costs $50-$550, plus mileage (etc.).

Delivery of one story under 20 minutes is about $25-$100…

Sometimes the cost is negotiable – depending on the situation – always ask.

Storytelling has space needs just as unique as a dance troupe. Storytellers usually need smaller, intimate spaces, or if larger spaces are used, there must be sound and few distractions. Storytelling is a most ancient form of communication and functions best when the teller and the listener can connect free of noise or too many distractions. Some water bottles handy, and space between sets of stories (if telling to numerous groups) are always a plus!

Places to NOT place a storyteller: near a music band, animals, machinery, a noisy bar or eating space. There is one well remembered horror story in OKC a few years back where a major venue placed its storytellers in the bar tent and every story was interrupted as beer bottles crashed into the trash can near the staging space, ice poured in glasses, and orders were taken.

Need a storyteller for a children’s event? Sometimes the local public library can partner their children’s professional to schools, daycares, etc. to read or share oral stories as part of a community outreach or literacy support. That is usually a free service – but requires advance planning to allow release time for the professional.

–M.A. Hudson, 2008

Adding Some Steam to Storytelling

The growing steampunk movement has long followed the traditional and formal literary styles of the author of the written, amid recreations, gadgets, gears, and dystopian angst (real or imagined) the oral story has been largely unrecognized. Yet, the stories abound, the flights of imagination, creativity, vision, and possibilities fly higher overhead than any airship.

Can the storyteller….long used to crafting the oral story to carry imaginations into other worlds….further expand and develop the oral story in an alternate reality, following the steampunk universe as it expands, and stretching the creative boundaries to new levels?

The challenge is to understand the essence of steampunk as not only a sub-genre of science fiction but also as part of a phenomenon which has occurred for every millennium and during many major shifts of society. This return to the past occurs repeatedly as a means of relocating the social order. A reboot as it were. It can be the social equivalent of the child in the pool who returns to the sanctuary of the side after a brief foray into the deeper waters of uncertainty.

The novel thing about steampunk is the aggressive willingness to reach into a place in the past and then “tinker” with it to reimagine (or invent) a model of life based on the “what if this had happened…..”

The emergence of this movement evidences certain values: a perceived lack of creative expression, of civility, and graciousness in society. Also is a distinct demonstration of the need for play in people of all ages and stages.

For most oral storytellers, this is not too unfamiliar. The greatest challenge may be in loosening up and having fun in ways that challenge the storytelling in novel ways.  (www.caughtinthegears.blogspot.com)

A workshop is being planned to introduce storytellers to this genre and provide tips and guides for making the tellers storytelling ‘steam powered.’

MAKE PLANS NOW FOR FESTIVAL 2013

The ‘Spirit of Oklahoma Storytelling Festival‘ will be held the weekend of June 8, 2013 in Seminole at the Seminole State College.  The format will be a dynamic celebration of story offering numerous and diverse opportunities for sharing and listening.  The event will start on Friday evening and continue through the day on Saturday.   Great ideas are in motion as Territory Tellers leaders and members aggressively move the organization into an exciting new era of storytelling in Oklahoma.

More details to follow!

Enhancing Storyteller Development

ISBN1591583993

An ongoing issue in learning to be a storyteller is identifying benchmarks in skill development. What makes one a ‘master teller’? When are you no longer a ‘beginning storyteller?’ Do you self-describe or wait for others to label your level of achievement?

Authors Kendall Haven and Mary Gay Ducey in their book CRASH COURSE IN STORYTELLING (Libraries Unlimited, 2007) provide a useful and valuable trio of labels. Termed the “Three Levels of Storytelling” they are “Level 1: The Informal Storyteller” (the kitchen table, with friends, etc.); “Level 2: The Community Storyteller” (often used in the course of a career – library, community, church, classroom, courtroom, etc.);”Level 3: The Professional Storyteller” (high level of professional, highly polished and rehearsed delivery, thematically linked content, often larger than life and formally staged (pg. 5-6).

These labels also offer an exciting opportunity to begin to more intentionally develop not only the storyteller but to develop new voices. They also offer the opportunity for broadening the understanding of competency, style and audience.

It is possible to be a highly skilled and competent Informal storyteller or a community storyteller. It is ‘okay’ to not be a ‘professional’. Becoming the best artisan for the type of storytelling which excites and engages the teller is the goal rather than an artificial single lane fast track to acceptance as a ‘storyteller’.

Of course, this is only one small part of a very easy to use resource for anyone who wants to help others (students and adults) to become storytellers. Content includes “The Place of Storytelling in Your Library” (but it is highly applicable to other settings); “Why Tell It? The Power of Storytelling”; “Okay, But Can I Really Do It?” Making storytelling practical and doable” ; “Choosing Stories That Will Work for You”; “Learning to Tell?”; “First Aid”; “Storytelling Extras” (Costumes, puppets, Audience Participation, etc.); “Let the Stories roll!” (Program  ideas and advice, etc.).

Perfect for a guild to study together and practice the methods and skills discussed. Highly recommended.