When I was a little girl and my nana put me to bed, I always asked her to tell me a story. Since she immigrated to the US from Italy, she preferred to speak rather than read. My favorite was her account of coming over the ocean to a new home. This story conveyed a huge part of who she was and in turn, who I am. From it I learned about the environment she grew up in, the struggles she went through, the life she built, and how my family came to be Americans.
This communal experience has been shared among families, tribes, communities, and social groups to pass along myths, legends, fables, and accounts of historical events. These days you can walk in to any watering hole around town and you will likely hear someone conveying an anecdote from their day or week with folks circled around them. Infused with humor, suspense, tragedy, adventure and most of all a sense of personality, these anecdotes become the moments that build bridges between people.
There are many people that argue that our style of modern entertainment is lacking this intimacy, and ultimately contributing to present-day conflicts. Perhaps this is the reason there is a resurgence of classic oral storytelling, everywhere from local backyard gatherings to events for adults and children at the library. Austin Public Library believes in these experiences, and is creating chances for our diverse community to reflect on and participate in the prompt, "what's your story".
Look for upcoming events through the Austin Public Library website like:
Additionally, look for upcoming events in your area through groups or listings like:
- The Central Texas Storytelling Guild
- Backyard Story Night
- Hyde Park Storytelling
- Austin Storytelling on Do512
There are many things that divide us as humans, but there is one thing that clearly unites us: storytelling. Stories can vary by culture and method, but at the core they convey something about who we were, are, or hope to be.
As cultures develop, so too do the methods in which stories are told. In this four-part blog series, I look to highlight some of the methods of storytelling that are alternatives to the traditional novel.