Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Posts Tagged ‘Emily Dickinson’

Storytelling Starters ~ On reflection

Saturday, August 5th, 2017

Looking anew at a story in the light of new information can cause a bit of reflection. This happened to me this week. I’d been looking through my files of stories and had come across one I like a lot that I’ve sometimes told to younger children. It’s about a tiger and a mouse and you very likely know it already.

The Tiger and the Mouse:

So this tiger is marching through the forest when he almost trips over a little mouse.

‘Ha,’ says the tiger. ‘You got in my way. I’m going to eat you up.’

‘Oh, don’t do that,’ the little mouse replies. ‘You never know, one day I might be able to help you.’

‘You? Help me?’ blares the tiger. ‘You’re very small and weak. I’m very big and strong. How could you ever help me?’


Storytelling Starters ~ ‘Who’s there?’

Saturday, July 8th, 2017

I’m still reading Emily Dickinson’s poems. There are an enormous number – 1775 in all – and they require pondering. Apart from the fact that their punctuation is eccentric, their meaning is often ambiguous and all the richer for that. The poem below is a story poem, which is why I decided to make it the subject of this week’s blog. It has made me think a lot about the differences between the language of poems and the language of told stories.

The language of poetry is condensed, rich in metaphor and image in a way that the storyteller’s language rarely is. Told stories have specially chosen details that alert the mind, turns of phrase that please the ear. They have momentum and also at times a kind of ambiguity that makes you wonder what is going on. But the two modes are different. At the end of the Emily Dickinson poem here, the door of the house is open. It’s early morning. The sun is just rising. But who or what has opened the door? Did robbers really come and leave it open? Or is it the sun that has opened the door, perhaps not literally but to our attention? (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Word walk

Saturday, February 18th, 2017

Words are key in storytelling. They create pictures, they make you think, they open doors. So I’ve been thinking about their importance. What follows is something of a miscellany – words I noticed during the week and how and where I noticed them.

In my own thinking:Key 5 compress

I was making some notes about using props with young children and trying to work out why it’s so useful to do this. For some reason, my mind immediately focused on keys as an example. Why keys? Well, they’re everyday things, they come in different shapes and sizes, I’ve got some very nice ones in my Story Bag and keys appear in several stories I tell.

So what happens when I’m storytelling? Well, get out a key, show it to an audience of young children and ask what it could be for and almost immediately answers start coming.  It could be the key to a treasure box … a secret room … a giant’s castle …the door to your house.

Immediately such ideas come out of individual children’s mouths, the shared world of the audience’s imagination is starting to expand.

On a board outside a local café: (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Red

Saturday, October 4th, 2014

The sumach tree is ablaze. The geraniums flare. Hips on the Handel Rose glisten in the brilliance of the morning sun. It feels both like summer is here and summer is passing at the very same moment. It’s been making me think red.

P1060958Red for the ears of the shining white hounds that Pwyll, Prince of Dyfed, encounters on the sacred hill at Arberth in the First Branch of the Mabinogion. (I’m preparing the Third Branch for telling next Friday at the Storytelling Café in Llangollen.)

Red for the drops of blood that fall on the snow-covered window ledge when the princess in the story of The Sleeping Prince as retold by Alison Lurie in Clever Gretchen and Other Forgotten Tales pricks her finger with her needle and the bird in the tree outside her window alerts her to the mission she will undertake to go and waken a sleeping prince:

Gold and white and red
The Prince lies in his bed.

In Welsh and Irish tradition, white and red are the colours of the other world, the supernatural. But I’ve been seeing the red as the farewell of summer and the herald of autumn.  (more…)