Sunday, October 7, 2007

National Storytelling Festival: Saturday morning

Saturday! A great start by running into Michael McCarty of California at the storytellers reception at the

International Storytelling Center.

After a late night (in bed just before 2am), we were up for breakfast by 7:30am Saturday morning. Hosts Mike and Starr Tester treated us to a great breakfast of eggs, sausage, home fries, toast, warm pear compote, juice and coffee. We were ready to go.
We arrived at the festival before 8:30 and went directly to the cabin to sign up for the story swapping grounds. I saw Fred Powers name on the list, so I signed up after him and decided to do something realted to coal mining since I knew Fred would be telling coal mining stories. I ran into Rudy Angelmeier there and he directed me to the morning meeting of Storytell listserve folks at the International Storytelling Center

Larry with Mary Garrett and Marilyn Kinsella--he's having too much fun!

There at last were the familiar faces of many, many storytellers--Mary Garrett, Marilyn Kinsella, Doug Elliott, Michael McCarty, Ellouise Schoettler and many others. It was a pleasure to see them all again; it has been three years since I've been with most of these friends. Soon everyone was on the run to the tents for stories. We stopped for coffee and ran into Fred Powers and his wife, and together we wandered up to the swapping tent.

Fred was amazing. His story of being trapped in a coal mine when the roof fell--a true personal experience--was riveting and I found myself holding my breath as we waited for him to be rescued. Too soon, his story ended and it was my turn.

I decided to sing a ballad about a coal mining disaster, then followed with a much-shortened version of my presentation about life in a coal camp (based on my husband's childhood and his pet crow) and finished with my version of The Carrion Crow, an audience participation song.

To my surprise, I was followed in turn by another West Virginia storyteller, Suzi "Mama" Whaples. She followed us into the mines with a story of her coal mining grandfather that brought tears and joy to everyone listening.
So Saturday morning swapping tent listeners were surprised by an impromptu set by West Virginia storytellers, on the theme of coal mining. We could not have done better if we'd planned it out. As it happened, it was purely serendipity.

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