Tuesday, June 30, 2015


In storytelling and in writing, point of view or perspective can turn the story around, on its head, going a different direction.  Picture book author, Jon Scieskza, illustrated this masterfully when he wrote The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, by A. Wolf, as told by Jon Scieskza.  If you are not familiar with the book, Alexander T. Wolf proclaims his innocence from his jail cell.

A fun storytelling “game” is to take a familiar story and retell it from the point of view of a minor character.  A few summers ago in the graduate level storytelling class I teach for University of Denver’s Library and Information Sciences Department, one group of students retold Cinderella from the point of view of the step-mother.  They had great fun with the assignment and the class enjoyed a top-notch off-the-cuff performance.

So when Lynda La Rocca gave the Shavano Poets’ Society gave us the following assignment: “Point of View: Turn It Upside Down,” I thought ,”What fun!” 
I searched for a poem which I could turn upside down by writing from a different perspective and finally settled upon “Warning” by Jenny Joseph.  You may not recognize the title, but many of you know something about the poem.  It spawned the Red Hat Societies.  Here it is in its entirety.

©By Jenny Joseph

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
My Closet - lots of purple!
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth. 
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat

And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and a pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and the read papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

I am at a stage in my life where I am realizing there were lots of questions I should have asked my mother before she left this earthly plane.  Questions I now know some of the answers to through experience, sometimes the hardest way to learn, sometimes the only way to learn.  My daughter is about the age I was when I should have started asking questions.  I’ve also been reading Women in Middlehood:Halfway Up the Mountain by Jane Treat and Nancy Geha.  So the poem I wrote is from a younger woman to her mother.

©Julie Moss, 2015

When you are an old woman wearing purple
With a red hat which doesn’t match, and doesn’t suit you,
I shall be entering the Forest of Middleood
That place where I am sure, but not sure
Climbing toward Wisdom  ---  the Wisdom you already have gained.

When you act like you are crazy
I shall sigh and shake my head just like everybody else,
But I envy your freedom to run through the rain clad in your slippers
While picking flowers from their gardens.

When you are Wise and I am sure but not sure
I shall ask questions  ---  of you.
Questions I may not know how to ask, but to which you know the answers.
Questions about the Forest of Middlehood
About the Cairns you left for me to follow.
Questions you wish you had asked, and now desire to answer.

If you answer my questions, I can practice a little
Before suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Here's another blog, Meanderings along the Narrow Way, I found while looking for pictures.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Dad and the Summer Solstice

Sunday (June 21) is a double day – Father’s Day and the Summer Solstice.  It got me thinking about the summers when I was a child and some of the things we did during the summer with my dad.  For me those are good memories.

My dad was a typical father of the 1950’s.  He accepted the fact that he had three daughters and no sons by becoming the favorite uncle of the 11 boys who were my cousins.  He spent long hours at work and relaxed at home.  We took a two week vacation, and almost every year traveled to Iowa to see my mom’s family.  That’s where my summer memories begin – I became the family navigator at the age of five, since my mom was unable to read a map.  It gave me, the oldest, the privilege of sitting in the front seat of the car so I could help Daddy find where we were going.  As I grew, the route changed because the interstate highway system was being developed.  One of the best memories was the restaurant in Joliet, IL, that served PB & J sandwiches!  It was at that restaurant that I learned about tipping.

Courtesy of Firefly
Two of my dad’s summer memories were at the root of two of my favorite summer memories.  Chasing and catching fireflies.  We’d put them in a jar with holes in the lid and let them go before we went in to wash our feet and go to bed.  The other had to do with the Fourth of July celebrations.  Fireworks were outlawed in Ohio, but sparklers were okay.  Dad purchased several boxes of sparklers each year, and we ran about the yard waving our magic wands as the soft darkness grew darker.  Our yard in northeast Ohio was surrounded by trees, trees that we climbed during the day skinning elbows and knees, scratching arms and legs on the rough bark.  We called the trees surrounding the yard “The Jungle.”

My dad has been physically gone from my life for 37 years.  But he lives on in the memories and stories I have.  When he left this earthly plane he became my son’s Guardian Angel.  Although my son never knew his grandpa, he shares many traits with my dad.  And I know in my heart that Dad would have been the best grandpa in the whole world.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!  Happy Solstice, Everyone!  Go outside and make some memories with your family.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Word Pictures

DISCLAIMER: I am purposely not adding any pictures to this post.  I want you, Dear Reader, to form your own pictures for this post.

Shortly after I began working on my last post about Words, Kevin Cordi posted the above quote on Facebook.  "Hooray," I thought, "the lead-in to my next blog."

I promised a story or two; so I'll start with a poem I wrote one morning while watching the world from my backdoor as the rain stopped and the mist began rising over the Valley.

After Effects of Rain
© Julie Moss
March, 2015

On a misty, moisty morn
Vapors rise from the valleys
As smoke rises from
The village fires.

Damp air hangs heavily
Clinging to the mountains
And even though the temp
Is warm, a chill permeates.

The cat refuses to stay inside
Prowling the new wetness
Instead of sitting by her
Fire.  What does she seek?

The mistress dreams of a day
With no obligations
A day of her own
To do with as she wishes.

Here's a link to an older post that tells the story of how I came to be in this world.
What's your coming into the world story?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


"Words are but symbols for the relations of things to one another and to us; nowhere do they touch upon the absolute truth."  ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Words, we all use them.  Words, they help communicate our needs, desires, pleasure, disdain.  I’m using them right now to communicate with you, Dear Reader.  One of the greatest events I witnessed was my grandsons learning language through sign language before they could talk.  They were communicating with words before most children do much more than cry, point and try their darnedest to make their wants known.  If these two toddlers wanted something to eat or drink, they told me with words.  Exciting!

Sometimes our words run all over each other and at other
times we cannot find the words to express what we feel, need to communicate.  Relationships grow and change and fall apart (not necessarily in that order) through words as well as actions.  Some of us use a language with a set alphabet that is put together in ways to make words which we, who speak that language, understand.  One of the first pieces of knowledge I gained when I traveled to China was that with the Asian languages where a symbol represents a whole word, most people never learn all the symbols for their language.

So what do we do with our language made up with words?  One thing we can do is tell stories.  We can pass down family stories so that future generations know why Uncle Oscar wouldn't speak to his sister and she wouldn't speak to him for the rest of their lives.  How did our parents and grandparents meet and fall in love, or did they fall in love?  How did we come to be?

The folktales and fairy tales which are a large piece of our collective heritage are fun to learn and tell and retell and change a bit and retell again.  I learned how to do this at a young age.  Mom read many folktales and fairy tales to my sisters and me.  I retold them as best I remembered, while sitting in the rock garden, to my imaginary brother who never seemed to be around for Mom’s reading.  It was fun.  I corrected what I’d forgotten with the subsequent readings of the same tales.

Have I told you the absolute truth with my words? No, I have only told you my truth.

What do you use your words for? 

(Come back for the next installment which will include a story or two.)

If you found this post interesting or useful, please let me know by leaving a comment.  Your words will let me know that I am not just blowing hot air into the atmosphere.  Thanks.

Julie Moss © 2015

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Z is for Zip-piddy-do-da!

Zip-piddy-do-da!  Finished Done I did it!  I finished the A-Z Blogging Challenge.  I've been blogging sporadically for some time using random thoughts that sorta, kinda had something to do with storytelling. This month of daily blogging has taught me a number of things about blogging.

·       Blogs don’t have to be long.
·       There’s a lot to write about storytelling.
·       Pictures count.
·       Write from the heart.
·       Tell a story of some sort within the blog.
·       I’m pretty sure I can do this at least twice a month now.

I have to credit my friend and “alter-ego,” Pam Faro with getting me to do this challenge.  She did it last year in order to see if she could.  And she did.  And so I took on the challenge even though April is typically a very busy month for me.

I wrote a week’s worth of blogs in March just to get myself started.  I limited my word count to fewer than 300 (most of the time) which is hard for a wordy person to do.  I chose my daily subjects.  After looking at the daily subjects I chose the theme “It’s All about Story.”   As I wrote pictures came.  I became more familiar with Blogspot and found it easier to use as I became accustomed to the format.

So for the ending a very short story, one from my book, Old China through the Eyes of a Storyteller - The Snipe and the Mussel,”  a 2300 year old fable about cooperation.

A Snipe found a Clam on the beach and decided to eat it for lunch.  But the Clam would have none of it and clamped down hard on the Snipe’s long beak.  They pulled and tugged but neither could get away from the other. 
The Snipe, through his nose, told the Clam, “If you don’t let go there will be a dead clam on the beach tomorrow.”
To which the Clam retorted, through clenched shell, “If I don’t let go there will be a dead Snipe on the beach tomorrow too.”

They pulled and tugged but neither could get away from the other.  Then along came an unlucky fisherman who saw the tugging and pulling.  He laughed, calling them both bulls (stubborn).  Then had snipe and clam stew for dinner.

Y is for Young

Young children – meaning babyhood through toddlerhood – love to be told stories.  Of course the stories have to be short, involve things they know about and perhaps even involve lap sitting.  All these things I learned from the youngest among us.
Two years ago while attending a meeting with educators where Colorado's Lt Governor, Joe Garcia  was speaking (his two pet projects are Early Childhood Education and Higher Education), I was given three precious minutes to explain why storytelling is important in Early Childhood Education.  I spoke with storytellers who work with the youngest children and mapped out a plan for my three minute speech which went well. 

But not everything goes according to plan.  While the Lt Governor did not jump on the “Band Wagon,” the director of the San Luis Valley Early Childhood Education Council did.  The upshot being that I was to teach a college class in Storytelling for Early Childhood Educators.  The class was full.  The class was fun.  The instructor learned a lot.  And so did the students.

One thing we addressed was the Vocabulary Gap where we centered our discussion on the merits of storytelling in teaching vocabulary.  (More Vocabulary Gap websites here.)  It’s the second best way, you know, following closely on the heels of conversation to teach vocabulary.  It’s the eye contact, the closeness, the feeling of “I’m the one being paid attention to!”

So tell stores to the little ones in your life.  As they grow older they may ask you, as my grandsons ask me, “Read us a story from your head, Grandma.” or "Let's make up stories together!"

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

X is for X-traordinary

I know, I know some would call this cheating, but I really want to write about the extraordinary, okay?

Webster defines the prefix “extra” as “beyond” what the root word means.  So beyond ordinary.  Better than ordinary.  Most of the time ordinary is just fine, but sometimes, sometimes happenings come along that are so much more.  These happenings for me are like jewels, sparkling where you least expect them.

Love is one of those extraordinary happenings.  That’s Love with a capital ‘L’ not lust, not like, not “you’re fun to be with.”  I wrote earlier about unconditional love.  That’s the kind of love I’m talking about here.

I've experienced unconditional love in several ways.  From my parents, of course, they, as most parents do, loved their children no matter what we did.  For my children because I, as a parent and grandparent, love my children and grandchildren no matter what they do.

I believe in the Divine and the unconditional love that comes to all of us from our Great Creator who, like a parent loves us no matter what we do.  My daughter-in-law lent me a book to read titled When God Winks: How the Power of Coincidence Guides Your Life by Squire Rushnell.  This small volume speaks to how we can use the “untapped power of coincidence to vastly improve our lives.”

Then there’s the unconditional love or a partner.  I believe I've experienced this kind of love twice.  Once was many years ago when I was in high school.  The feelings I had lingered long past the time the relationship ended.  I thought perhaps the relationship might be rekindled when God winked almost three years ago.  But I’m not so good with long distance relationships.  But we are in touch and the friendship is there.

The other time began about a year ago when God winked again.  After shaky starts and stops, this time has blossomed into a real partnership of unconditional love.  I am so glad it’s finally my turn to experience the X-traordinary!  This story is still unfolding just as the path on the heart to the left keeps going.

Monday, April 27, 2015

V is for Variety

“Variety is the spice of life.”  William Cowper’s poem “The Task” (1785) contains that line.  And many times variety is the spice of life, until it becomes overwhelming because you may have tried too many different kinds of experiences or your life is too diverse.
What is too much for one may be extremely satisfying to another.  When I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed at what is happening in my life, I step back and look at how I arrived at this impasse.  Usually it is my own doing since I have a tendency to say “Yes” more often than “No.”  Case in point: this month of April, 2015.

The first half of the month was doable – I was wearing the normal hats that I do quite often which I’m used to.  Some of my “normal” hats include Dance Partner, Radio Show Host, Rocky Mountain Storytelling Board Member, Program Director for the RMS Conference (May 1 & 2), Chef, Seamstress, Walker, and I added Blogger to that list by joining the A-Z Blogging Challenge.   

It looked like the latter half would be doable as well until I got a phone call and a text.  The first was an invitation to travel to Branson, CO.  (Yes, you read that right – Branson, CO.)  The school (50 students K-12) was having a Literacy Night and needed a speaker.  Since I am a rural area dweller and know first-hand how hard it is to get good people to come a distance, I said, “Yes.”  Storyteller Hat

Then my daughter-in-law texted me with an emergency “Grandma Request” – could I come up and take care of the boys for the end of the week?  Of course I said, “Yes!”  Grandma Hat

So for the past two weeks I have put a number of miles on my car, seen beautiful scenery and animals, traveled some paved back roads and added to my to-do list.  At least I’ve kept myself out of trouble and the weather cooperated.  I have two more weeks of wearing either my Storyteller Hat or my Grandma Hat almost non-stop and then …  Well, we’ll see what I say May 11.

W is for Witches

Witches?  Who are they really?  Why do they have such a bad reputation?  Do they really eat little children? 

Today we will look at one stereotypical witch – Baba Yaga.  Baba Yaga lives in the forests of Russia.  Her home is a hut standing on chicken feet which kneel down when she is home making it easy for her to exit and enter her home, and stand up when she is gone so that no one else can enter.  The hut has the ability to turn 3600 in order to welcome her home.  She has a cat and a dog.  Her legs are bony, her teeth are iron.  Supposedly she eats little children.  She flies about in a magic mortar which she steers with the pestle.  She sweeps her tracks away with her broom.  So do NOT venture out into the forest alone!

Where did my knowledge of Baba Yaga come from?  Jack and Jill magazine.  Back in the 1950’s, the children’s magazine ran a series on Baba Yaga which my mother read to my sisters and me.  I was so fascinated by all the magical things that Baba Yaga had in her life, they have stuck with me all these years.

I used this knowledge when I was a librarian.  We were not allowed to tell witch stories for Halloween; so I got around that by using two books – one with the fourth graders and one with the fifth graders to prove the need for research even when writing and illustrating picture books.

The Widow’s Broom by Chris Van Allsburg was my choice for the fourth graders.  We briefly discussed the witch trials in Salem as background for the story.  I love Van Allsburg’s wordsmithing.  If you've never read any of his books, do; they’re worth the effort.

Eric Kimmel’s Baba Yaga was my choice for the fifth graders.  Megan Lloyd is the illustrator of this book.  Ms Lloyd, I’m afraid, did not do her research before making her illustrations.  As you can see from the cover of the book, Baba Yaga is flying on her broom and is perched precariously on a small mortar while waving the pestle in her hand.  And, yes, she‘s pretty high off the ground.  Yet when faced with a stream and a grove of trees she cannot fly over them.  Inconsistencies.  The house on chicken legs has steps leading into it and therefore cannot kneel nor turn in any direction without tearing them off.

I have a Russian friend who is going to give me more insight into the story of Baba Yaga.  And I love Patricia Polacco’s version of Babuska Baba Yaga. 

Witches are not all bad.  Sometimes they just know more, and are more in touch with nature than others; and long ago that was considered, by some men, to be a bad thing.  In some places that is true today.

Friday, April 24, 2015

U is for Unconditional Love

“If you wilt but stay as beautiful as you are today. I will love you forever,” the king told his queen. 
“And who shall judge my beauty?” she inquired of the king.
“Why I shall, of course,” was the reply.
“Will your standards for beauty change as you age?” she asked coquettishly.
“No!” he thundered.
And she wondered if the rewards of queenship were worth what lay ahead.

That passage is not from any story I am familiar with, but it is said in a variety of situations and with a variety of words day after day after day.

Unconditional love does not use the word “If”.  Near on 60 years ago there was a man who showed me what unconditional love for a woman looked like.  My grandparents were making one of their rare visits to our home.  Both Grandma and Grandpa were in the living room with me when Grandma got up and left to go help my mom in the kitchen.  As she left the room, Grandpa turned to me and said, “There goes the most beautiful woman in the world!”

I’d always thought of my grandparents as old, although in the little story above they were probably around the age I am now (and of course I’m not old!).  To my young eyes Grandma did not have any of the attributes the magazine ads and TV touted as beautiful, but in Grandpa’s eyes she was and always had been from the moment he met her, the most beautiful woman in the world.

Their love story was just as beautiful.  They’d never told it to their children, but one winter afternoon in the late 1960’s when two of my cousins and I were exploring the attic with them, the Romantic (Grandpa) told us the story.  We sat still, drinking in the tale we’d never heard before and loving every detail.  It was so much better than the story we’d been hearing all our lives – “I couldn’t teach her math so I had to marry her.”  He told about the “pursuit,” the proposal, the acceptance and the unconditional love.  Ahhhh, yes, that special love that does not fade.  It’s not found by everyone, but when it comes, grab hold with both hands and toss the word “if” from your vocabulary!

T is for Temptation

Janet ventured out one day knowing full well that she was not supposed to go anywhere near Carterhaugh.  She found herself there anyway perhaps because it is tempting to go where one has been forbidden to go.  It was tempting to pluck a sweet smelling rose; so she did.  The young man who appeared tempted her to walk with him.

So many temptations all in one afternoon.  And if you know the story of Janet and Tam Lin (or the ballad), you know not only how tempted she was, but also that he was tempted as well.  Janet was different from the other lassies who made their way either through knowledge or fate to Carterhaugh.  She was a young woman who knew her mind.  She was more curious than afraid.  Janet went of her own free will into the forest with Tam Lin.

Janet proved to be brave when she freed Tam Lin from the faerie spell.  And because she yielded to temptation, she found something so precious she was willing to give her own life to save his.

Temptation finds us all at various points in our lives.  We must judge the merits of the temptation before giving in to it.  Will it give satisfaction for a moment or a life-time?  Is it fleeting like the taste of chocolate cake or life changing as in the case of True Love?  Only we can decide for ourselves, and thus our free will.

Now back to the story.  Janet saved Tam Lin’s life and did not lose her own although she risked it.  Their child had two loving parents because of Janet’s bravery.  Carterhaugh was returned to its rightful heirs, and all turned out for the best.  So one might say with all that temptation going ‘round, a life was saved and two lives were changed and a third life begun and the Fairy Queen lost because of True Love. 

Not all temptations turn out so well, but in Fairy Tales, true love finds its own and proves to have a pull far harder to resist than chocolate cake at midnight.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

S is for Sisters

Sisters, ah yes, I know all there is to know about sisters since I have two of my own and a cousin who is more like an older sister than a cousin.  Or do I?  Know all there is to know about sisters – that is?

I chaffed through my childhood while Mom read or told us stories about sisters and how the youngest one was always the prettiest, wittiest, smartest, best all around at everything.  How come it was never the oldest?

Well at least when our cousinly theatre was presented, I played the part of Cinderella.  Well, it was because I was the theatrical type and my sisters and cousin weren’t.  But secretly, deep down, I was so relieved that the oldest could do something beautiful, special, right.

One of my favorite stories as an eldest sister growing up in the 50’s was Snow White and Rose Red.  Why?  Because both sisters were all those wonderful things that seemed in most tales to belong only to the youngest.  Both sisters marry a prince.  

This month it is my turn to choose the book and lead the book discussion for my book club (Broads, Books and Banter).  At Jane Yolen’s suggestion I decided to have members read one of the books in the Fairy Tale series edited by Terri Windling. These novels are remakes of the old fairy tales.  Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia C. Wrede, was one of them.  It is set in medieval England.  The Land of Fairy borders the land where the home of the widow and her two daughters is located.  The novel follows to some degree the Grimm’s tale, but with delightful diversions.

Other novels in the Fairy Tale series include Briar Rose, by Jane Yolen; Tam Lin, by Pamela Dean; Jack the Giant Killer, by Charles de Lint; The Nightingale, by Kara Dalkey; White as Snow, by Tanith Lee; Fitcher’s Brides, by Gregory Frost; The Sun, the Moon and the Stars, by Steven Burst; and Persinette, by Charlotte-Rose de Caumont La Force.  If you haven’t discovered this series of old tales set in more modern times, you’re in for a treat.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

R is for Road Trips, Radio and Research

All storytellers go on road trips, but I would be willing to bet that those of us who live in rural areas travel more and more often than our counterparts who live in metro areas.

Sometimes our road trips turn into a story such as the one I used to tie stories together at the National Storytelling Network last July where I was an emcee for one of the Regional Showcases.  Sometimes our road trips can be used for research – places we’d like to come back to, stories we find along the way when we talk with people, stories of places, pictures of small post offices.

And, of course, there’s the radio.  It’s interesting to see what you can find as local radio stations.  For example, I tell stories on two small community radio stations in rural Colorado.  As a storyteller it would delight me to no end to be driving through an area and tune into Stories!  In fact this summer people take to the road for the purpose of vacation, I will be doing a radio show dedicated to Road Trips.

Speaking of Radio – there are other radio stations playing stories out there.  The Rocky Mountain Storytelling Newsletter, of which I am the editor, lists several of them.

Julie Moss is host of "Storytime Radio" which airs on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month on KHEN "Community Radio for the Upper Arkansas Valley" from 5:00-6:00 pm, and on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month on KRZA "Community Radio for the Upper Rio Grande Valley" from 5:00-600 pm.

 Internet Story Radio opportunities include:
Buck Creacy says, "Give a listen to the world's only 24/7/365 Radio Station dedicated to Storytellers & Storytelling." You can also listen to the station on iTunes radio.  Go to iTunes, click radio, click talk radio, look for "World of Storytelling."
Click & make it a Fave. 
The Story Mine hosted by David Bullock airs Sunday Mornings at 8:30 am. Streaming live at KPCW.org David says: We are accepting CD's of good stories at The Story Mine, 285 Starview Drive, Park City, UTah 84098

Originates from the campus of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Listeners tune in via Sirius XM satellite radio, channel 143, online at byuradio.org, and on iTunes. The Apple Seed, hosted by Sam Payne, features Tellers and Stories.  It airs three times daily, five days a week.  

Monday, April 20, 2015

Q is for Queen

Queens like many women in the old tales play an important but secondary role.  They die off, they are step-mothers (with all the old connotations), they are not listened to, and in general are a bit superfluous.

Two of my favorite queens are the Queen from “The Lute Player,” of whom I spoke Saturday, and the Queen who outwits her husband the king by taking him with her.  There are various tales in which this happens; “The Basil Plant” from Chile is one.  I found it in Suzanne Barchers book, WiseWomen.  There is also “The Peasant's Clever Daughter,” which I have seen various places.  Here’s an internet link to “The Peasant's Clever Daughter.”

So both stories go that a clever peasant girl marries the king.  In “The Basil Plant” the girl’s one-up-man-ship is too much for the king to bear; so he feels he must marry her.  “The Clever Peasant Girl” answers the riddle: "Come to me not clothed, not naked, not riding, not walking, not in the road, and not out of the road, and if thou canst do that I will marry thee."  Once married the king tells his new wife to keep her nose out of his business.  But when she sees how he dispenses justice, she just can’t sit around doing nothing. 
Knowing she is behind the “tricks” being played upon him, the king plans to either send her home or burn her up.  But she is allowed to take with her “from the palace that which was dearest and most precious in (her) eyes” or to ask a favor.  In both cases the king is her choice.  He sees the wisdom of her actions and from then on she is either the one who dispenses justice or she helps with it. 

Not a bad way to get noticed.  The king couldn't very well ignore his queen and go on ruling himself if he died in the fire with her or stayed at her cottage for the rest of their lives.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

P is for Play

Last spring about this time of the year, I was readying a story I have wanted to tell for years.  Kevin Cordi came to Colorado for the Rocky Mountain Storytelling Conference and offered a Master Class as well based on his Permission 2 Play philosophy.  The story – “The Lute Player.”

Kevin gave us permission to play with our stories.  First we told a piece of them to one or two others, taking turns.  Kevin asked leading questions to help us discover what we needed to play with in our stories.  We went on to tell other bits and pieces to other partners.

Finally Kevin asked for volunteers to let him show everyone who was attending how to dig deep into the story we had chosen to play with.  I was first and had no idea what to expect.  What I discovered in the early exercises was the fact that the queen’s journey as the minstrel boy was a very important part of the story which is usually glossed over to some extent.  So when the whole group helped me play, I was shown just how arduous and treacherous her journey was.

Back home, I thought about the story, the queen’s journey, the journey I've been on.  And then this winter I had the opportunity to tell the story to an audience.  The debut of my version of “The Lute Player.”  My debut as a storyteller for adults in my new community.

Here is a sampling of what I found storytellers have said about the queen’s journey in various versions of “The Lute Player.”

1.    The Queen traveled far and wide, disguised as a boy, playing her lute and singing as she went.

2.    The queen played her lute and sang her songs for anyone who would offer her a ride -- whether by caravan or ship, and after many months she reached the land of the evil lord.

Here’s my version after being given permission to play with the story:
She traveled about, as a minstrel boy, here and there, singing for her dinner and a place to lay her head.  At times she joined with other minstrels, but often she was alone.  She never revealed her identity.  Her travels were long and her travels were difficult.  Many people were mistrustful as she would not explain where she was going or why. 

Her clothes became worn and her skin brown, but still she traveled on.  And wherever she sang, people listened.  She sang of love and of longing.  She sang of flowers in the spring and cool waters to rest beside.  Those who listened never grew tired of her voice and commented that it was sweeter than a lark’s.   

Kevin’s workshop is now in book form, published by Ted Parkhurst.  Check it out!  Thanks Kevin!

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