By Rose Owens


Just as light, dark, brightly colored and somber threads weave over and under to create a beautiful brocade, so do the threads on STORYTELL weave over and under to create a loving, caring  village for STORYTELL members.  In the last few months we have watched the impending arrival of the hurricanes--Katrina and then Rita.  We have worried about our STORYTELL friends and the word has gone out, “Has anyone heard from Dianne de Las Casas?  Angela Davis?  Trudy Terry?”  And we have sighed with relief and admiration as we heard of their safety and their stories.  STORYTELL members have reached out to them to provide shelter, encouragement, bookings to replace those that were flooded out, material items and a helping hand.

            We have been family to those who faced crisis.   We have listened to them and prayed for them—each according to our own personal beliefs and abilities.  We were saddened to learn of the death of Sandy Pomerantz.  Wonderful memories and tributes to her were shared on STORYTELL.  Jackie Baldwin generously offered to compile the tributes.  She created three books to be given to Sandy’s family.  Those tributes were also published online for STORYTELL members to read.  We grieve for the loss of a storyteller but her stories and memories live on.

        Bob Kangesis raised the question “What are the skills of a storyteller?”  He said, “Recently I've been thinking about the question that Kamela, the courtesan, asked Siddhartha in the book Siddhartha by Herman Hesse.  Siddhartha has been a wandering mendicant. Now he's come to a town and asked the courtesan to instruct him.    So I thought I'd pose Kamela's question to you, my friends and colleagues.  What can you do?”

            Bob’s then presented his personal list:  Storytellers speak, listen, relate, find and make meaning, transform energy, capture attention and translate experience.  They remember, find patterns, adapt stories and adapt to the occasion.  Storytellers have a sense of timing to present the right story at the right time.  They shift and transform energy, research, entertain and make connections.

               As STORYTELL members added their response, the list of storytelling skills grew.  “Storytellers dream out loud.”  (John Callahan), “Write their own material” (Joan Kimball), “Give and put the joy out there” (Margaret Schwallie), “Discuss taboo topics without anybody noticing.  Tell the stories the TV networks don’t dare to touch.   Show you your own folly without making you feel bad” (Coilin).  Angela Davis replied, “Storytellers can think on their feet, make others laugh and cry, warm hearts, invoke joy and make words sound like music.  They can take you on a journey, bring you to the past or catapult you to the future.  Storytellers have the power to heal, make magic, and create circles that share.  They can change a person, take you deeper, cause you to listen with your heart or make you hear what no one else can.  Storytellers can make you wonder, learn, be.”   
               I believe that these excerpts from an ongoing list are only a part of what a storyteller can do.   So I ask Bob’s question again, “As a storyteller, what can you do?”   I invite you to email me at storylady@civprod.com with your response to this question. 

Rose Owens
Copyright 2005


Published in Storyline (Storytelling Association of Alta California Newsletter)

Winter 2005


Story Lady Home Page


Back to Articles