Monday, April 25, 2005

Returning to a magical place

I've just returned from three and half days in which I was transported to a magical world, the world of Northlands. Every year, the last full weekend in April, storytellers from five states and beyond gather in Madison Wisconsin to learn, share and most of all, tell. Televisions and the internet are things of another age. No one needs them. We all have stories to tell.

All of us have these places we go, where groups of friends gather and pick up where they left off the last time they were together, as if there was no passage of time. For me, that place is Northlands Storytelling Network. I'm lucky. I'm on the Board of Directors for this organization, which means I get three other times throughout the year to gather like this with a small group of storytellers to plan for the organization. Of course, we work. We work hard. This year, we worked really hard. And our annual conference, "Hands Across the Northlands," appears to have been a rousing success. Every workshop I attended was stellar. Even the one I presented on encouraging families to tell their stories was good.

Whenever storytellers gather, magic enters the atmosphere. A story swap could end up becoming a ceilidh, like the one I attended Saturday night, where the host played the small pipes, his wife taught us the contra dance, the Seige of Innis, and my friend Yvonne Healey told her story of Con Healey's trip across the pond and back, all in the name of telling his story to the end.

Whenever storytellers gather, you can hear tales well told at a concert, whether it's Sadarri Saskill telling about her best friend from her teen years or Mike Mann telling how Anansi was tricked by a goose, of all creatures. The stories might include the spewing of feathers by Mike Speller, or a djembe for background from Jim May or Lyn Ford. Stories abound at the Midwest StoryFest, a series of three concerts open to the public during the conference.

Whenever storytellers gather, the stories keep flowing beyond the stage or workshop to the dinner table, the table always open to the new teller as well as the "oldtimers." Old friends are greeted and embraced again, new friends are made. Stories permeate the host hotel, The Edgewater, as people gather in the lobby, the resource room, the lunch line.

Whenever storytellers gather, magic happens. Be part of the magic next year, when Northlands Storytelling Network brings the magic of storytelling back to Madison. I'll be there!

Northlands Storytelling Network
Sadarri Saskill
Mike Mann-StoryMann


At 7:36 AM, Anonymous Becky said...

Gwyn, that sounds like so much fun!

At 10:14 AM, Blogger Kathryn said...

This sounds fascinating, Gwyn! :) Sounds like you guys have a lot of fun. :)Your blog is bookmarked and I look forward to reading your future entries! :)

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