Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ Smorgasbord

That word smorgasbord always suggests outside eating to me, a delicious-looking range of dishes set out on a summer-time table strewn with flowers. A couple of sunny days this week suggests that, despite all the indications, spring and summer might actually be on their way. Some smorgasbording might occur!

So here’s a kind of storytelling smorgasbord to go with the imagined food.

1. Sharing stories

Did you know it’s National Share-a-Story Month? Among all the other National Thises and National Thats, I hadn’t specifically registered it until alerted by the delightfully efficient Marketing Manager at Jessica Kingsley Publishers who has been handling my new book. Might I do a piece on story-sharing to go on their blog? Answer: Yes of course I will. Story-sharing is so right up my street, it’s in my house and in my study and in my heart. The irony is, of course, that National Share-a-Story Month is organised by the National Federation of Children’s Book Groups.

2. Writing about storytelling

The Society for Storytelling was founded to bring attention to storytelling of the oral sort. Current leadership at the society (which I’ve recently rejoined after a weird kind of muddle-up inadvertently dropped me off a year or two ago) is now thinking of doing something close to my heart. It’s considering bringing back into the light of day some (eventually perhaps all?) of their 17 excellent publications which I was instrumental in editing and publishing. All bring attention in one way or another to the oral sort of story and, talking of story-sharing, one of the last of the 17 was written by Grace Hallworth who, as a storyteller of great renown, has always liked to use that term because of the way in which the telling of a story can prompt others to do the same.

3. A story shared

‘My rabbit died.’ That’s one of my most treasured stories. Only three words long, it was told to me by a little boy in a South Wales school after an hour of story-sharing I’d done with his class. Our theme had been animals and, after my stories, the children had got into pairs or small groups to share stories of animals they’d known or encountered. There was no lack of talk. But it was as they were all filing out to go for lunch that that little boy came up to me, leaned towards me with a serious, confiding expression and, without any other ado, simply told me his story. For it really was and is a story. Even as he told it, I could see into it, realising all it might have had inside it. Sudden shock or culmination of illness, grief and continued sense of loss, decisions about what to do with the dead body, continued remembrance of the living creature … We might have talked together but there wasn’t time and in a way there was no need. He’d said it. I heard. What I know for sure is that it was story-sharing and the time we’d all had doing just that together is what had enabled him to tell me.

PS: My photos archive happily contains enough photos of food to summon up the pleasures of alfresco eating. Fingers crossed for plenty of it over the coming months.

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