Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Posts Tagged ‘messenger’

Storytelling Starters ~ Who wins?

Saturday, April 5th, 2014

I like coincidences and synchronicities. An odd one brought to a conclusion the story of my nomination for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award for 2014.

NZbirdcompressThe alert:

It dawned on me the other day that I’d forgotten when this year’s winner was to be announced. By far the biggest in children’s literature, the Award is worth almost half a million pounds and – imagine! – it’s open to oral storytellers as well as writers and illustrators. Nominations are made by all kinds of registered bodies around the world and last year I’d been asked by the George Ewart Evans Centre for Storytelling in Cardiff if I’d be willing to be their nominee for the 2014 award. I felt honoured to be nominated. I gladly accepted.

The winner:

So there I was the other day, wondering where the Astrid Lindgren process had got to. When I looked it up on Google, how surprised I was! What came up was the alert: the Award was to be announced in one hour’s time. And an hour later, there it was. This year’s winner is Barbro Lindgren who is a Swedish children’s writer though evidently no relation of Astrid who was of course the creator of Pippi Longstocking as well as many other children’s characters and stories. Congratulations to Barbro Lindgren.

TwobirdscompressWhat now?

‘So that’s done’ was my first thought. Then I realised the announcement had set me thinking. Why has no oral storyteller ever won? The brief answer, I guess, is that, realistically, the award is a publishing award: the winners’ books get translated and republished in other languages.

You can’t publish oral storytelling. So then why is the award also open to oral storytellers? And how is an oral storyteller to be judged alongside writers and illustrators? What oral storytellers do is live.

I’m not asking these things because I’m miffed not to win. Outside outright fantasy, I’d never dreamed that I would. Why I’m asking is because I’d have loved to win – not for myself, not for the money but for the sake of oral storytelling itself and for what so many of us do in so many countries across the world and in so many individual ways. Storytelling is not a mega-bucks activity. It’s not much recognised or celebrated. Yet I believe it’s a vital thing. And I know this from seeing the effect it has on children when it’s done. I know it because they love it.

The letter:

CormorantcompressSo that’s why I’m about to write to the Astrid Lindgren organisation. I intend to ask them to think about why their award is open to oral storytellers but has never, even in part, been awarded to one. Might they not be able to use their international prestige to help the cause of oral storytelling in some practical way, perhaps by honouring some exponents of it?

My letter is almost ready. It’ll go off at the start of next week. Come to think of it, though, perhaps I should be sending a couple of birds instead.

In my Welsh class this week we talked about the Welsh poetic tradition of sending a bird as a messenger,  llatai. Maybe a couple of birds arriving in the post would draw a bit more attention!

I’ll keep you posted if I get a reply.

See you next week. And do remember to subscribe to my blog if you like it.