Twinbrook Tellers at the Gaithersburg Book Festival

Eve Burton and The Twinbrook Tellers performed at the Gaithersburg Book Festival, Saturday, May 20, 2017. 

Their fearless leader, eve burton, (that’s me – or “I” if you’re fussy) began the telling with an Arabic folktale, The Three Liars and the Brass Farthing from the book The Fairy Tale Tree.

Eve was followed by Evelyn who told the story  In a Village by the Sea, from the book of that title by  Muon Van  and  The Moon Was but a Chin of Gold by Emily Dickinson.


Rishi made his debut with our group, telling  The Story of the King of Bright Moonlight.
He seemed as comfortable onstage as if he’d been doing it for years. Congratulations, Rishi!

Eve closed the set with a story for the parents, The Scholar of Bagdad, an approximation of the story as told in Apples from Heaven: Multicultural Folktales about Stories and Storytelling, by Naomi Baltuck.

Submitted by eve burton


VITG Monthly Story Swap at the home of Michael Fleming, May 20, 2017

Seven tellers, three dogs, a parrot, and two additional human listeners gathered at the home of Michael Fleming in Fairfax, VA, for a delightful evening of tales. After introducing us, Bill Mayhew started off with a tale of hunting bear in West Virginia with his uncle. There were also some sheep, a crib, four traps, and some intestines involved. Leave it to Bill.

Michael Fleming followed with a Coyote story, Coyote Steals a Blanket, in which Coyote doesn’t listen to the good advice of Hummingbird, gets into difficulty for not listening, is rescued by Hummingbird, and (spoiler alert) promises not to listen again. Very Coyote.

In keeping with the theme of Native American tales, Margaret Chatham told Gobbleknoll, a Sioux Legend which can be found in Alan Garner’s Collected Folk Tales.




Miriam Nadel explained to us that one of her goals was to learn a story from every country in the world. That said, she had decided to tell a tale from the U.S., and wondered what would be a representative tale. She chose to tell Manhattan is Sinking.

Since we’d gotten on the theme of lies, eve burton told The Three Liars and the Brass Farthing from The Fairy Tale Tree by Vladislav Stanovsky.

Jane Dorfman told Daddy’s on the Roof and He’s Got the Axe, a favorite tale about her neighbors Annie and George.

A new-to-Voices teller, Fred, told us about The Talk, a life-altering, coming-of-age, explanation-of-what-it-means-to-be-an-adult-in-our-family given by his father when he turned eighteen.

That inspired Bill to tell us about Tom the State Trooper, formerly King of the University of Maryland and his escorting of Jesse Jackson to a UM event. And Bill had to include one last joke: Are your Parents Home?

Miriam then told a personal tale about her father whose favorite saying was “When I was your age, I was three years older.”

Nothing could top that, so we decided to stop and eat cookies, fresh summer fruit, and a 5-layer dip that Fred’s wife kindly sent with chips. We hope she’ll join us for the fun next month! And if you’re reading this, and you weren’t there, maybe you’d like to join us too. We welcome all tellers and all good listeners, too!

Submitted by eve burton

VITG Monthly Story Swap at the home of Bill Mayhew, April 29, 2017

Seven storytellers, six additional listeners and a couple of cats enjoyed a quiet evening of tales at the home of Bill and Maren Mayhew in Beltsville, MD, on Saturday, April 29, 2017.




Margaret Chatham, who had come from several days of celebrating Virginia’s native plants, followed by a day at the Potomac Celtic Festival in Southern MD, opened the evening with a new version of an old tale, Lutey and the Mermaid from the book North of Nowhere: Stories and Legends from Many Lands retold by Barbara Sleigh, coward-McCann, c1964, 1st American ed. 1966.



After Margaret, Bill Mayhew gave us two renditions of the same story: one a Palestinian telling, the other an Ashkenazi Jewish version.

With a charming accent, Don Schuirmann recited Marriott Edgar’s humorous poem The Battle of Hastings.

Twinbrook Teller graduate, now VITG performing member,  Elsa Sellmeyer, told Green Pea John from Three Sneezes and other Swiss Tales by Roger Duvoisin. It’s a humorous, but rather macabre tale of the conflict between a clever renter, Green Pea John, and his landlord.

After explaining that her telling was created from a compilation of Norse myths, Morganna Schuirmann treated us to her idea of what happened at Thor’s First Wedding. It was a very modern telling of an old tale.

I, eve burton, told a new-to-me tale: The Story of Rags Habakuk, the Two Blue Rats, and the Circus Man who Came with Spot Cash Money by Carl Sandburg, from the Rootabaga Stories. It is a story in which the protagonist, Rags Habakuk, is cautioned – albeit it unknowingly – that if he sells one of his blue rats, one of his daughters will marry a taxicab driver, and if he sells them both, the other daughter will marry a moving-picture hero actor. What could be worse?

Jane Dorfman gave us another old favorite The Golden Goose, a fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm.

And Bill finished the telling with a tale about the Arundel family, in which young men of that family ravished the women in a convent, kidnapped them, and finally threw them overboard to lighten the load of their ship. Not exactly a story with a happy ending.

But the dessert table, to which we retired after the storytelling, created a much-improved ending to the evening. Maren shared shortbread cookies with pecans on top which she declared were her father’s favorite cookies. The Sellmeyer/Stecher family brought chocolate truffles made by their grandparents. Eve and Roger brought “tea cakes” which were really giant cookies. And there were many other delicious treats.

submitted by eve burton, April 30, 2017

Please note, the photos included in this post were not taken at Bill’s house. They are from previous VITG storytelling events, and have only been included to refresh readers’ minds as to which tellers go with which names.

Twinbrook Tellers at Day of the Book 2017

The Kensington Park Celebration of the International Day of the Book was held Sunday, April 23, 2017, and TheTwinbrook Tellers of the Dogwood Dogs 4H Club were there!

Since we were performing on the Poetry Stage, several of our storytellers presented poetry.



Lily opened our set with a delightful telling of Custard the Dragon  by Ogden Nash.




John gave us a spooky Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll.




Chrissy shared her favorite poet Emily Dickinson, with a recitation of I’m Nobody.





Clare, ever one to enjoy a humorous rhyme, chose Be Glad Your Nose is on Your Face by Jack Prelutsky.




Celia brought us back to the Romantic era and the current season with William Wordsworth’s ever-favorite, Daffodils.



Then we had storytelling. Evelyn told a nesting tale, In the Village By the Sea by Muon Van.





Noah shared Talk, an African Folktale.



And I, eve burton, leader of the Twinbrook Tellers, wrapped up our set with The Scholar of Baghdad, a tale from Apples from Heaven: Multicultural Folktales about Stories and Storytellers by  Naomi Baltuck.

The Twinbrook Tellers were followed by a second group led by eve burton , The Summer Poetry Workshop, a group of women poets who meet twice each month in Laytonsville/Gaithersburg MD to read, write and talk about poetry. One of the women in our poetry group, Sheila Burns, is also the mother of one of the Twinbrook Tellers. Louise Capon is mother to a former Twinbrook Teller. Other poets reading from our group included Kate Berman, Raylynn Oliver; and Kim Malinowski who has a book coming out soon, Death: A Love Story, and will be a featured poet in Faerie Magazine in the fall. Each of the poets in our group read selections of her original poetry.

submitted by eve burton, April 30, 2017

The Grapevine Storytelling Series

The Grapevine Storytelling Series, by Tim Livengood,

The Grapevine is a monthly storytelling program on the second Wednesday evening of each month from September through June, run by Noa Baum and Tim Livengood in Takoma Park, Maryland. We’re in the middle of our 4th season, the second at our current location. Our typical audience number is 30-50, with a peak of 87 the night that we hosted the incomparable Elizabeth Ellis. The Grapevine is presented at Busboys and Poets (BB&P), a small local chain with an arts and literary focus, named in honor of poet (and one-time busboy) Langston Hughes. The restaurant provides a dedicated performance space with food service.

I couldn’t claim to be an authority on what makes a successful, For the Florida Storytelling Association, “InSideStory” storytelling program, but I know what we do, and why we do it, and what level of success we’ve had. We have divided the labor to produce the Grapevine, by accident and by inclination, so that Noa has provided the artistic direction and Tim has handled organization and promotional materials. Noa and Tim swap hosting duties from one evening to another. The program opens with up to three open-mic tellers (five minutes each), followed by usually two (but occasionally just one) featured teller. Total performance time is about an hour and a half. We aren’t very specific in instructions to our tellers. We ask for whatever they are inspired to tell – fiction, nonfiction, myth, legend, autobiography, folk, or literary stories, in whatever mode they want – but no reading! We are supported by audience donations and by sponsorships. The program is free to anyone who wishes to be there, but we ask for donations of $15 per person if they can do it, and the collection shows that most people are able to pitch in for the full request. The collected donations are split between our featured tellers for the night. Our biggest single sponsor at this time is the Folklore Society of Greater Washington, which provides a reliable baseline payment for our artists in addition to the donations and which also accepts donations directed to the Grapevine by commercial sponsors, passing them through to the tellers and enabling the sponsors to take a tax deduction, since FSGW is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. FSGW covers the venue fee and the cost to produce promotional materials, and advertises the Grapevine through communications to its membership. BB&P is our other largest sponsor, as they give us a big price break on the venue fee, they feature the Grapevine on their monthly online performance calendar, and promote it in-house. Tellers are able to sell merchandise at the show.

We have learned a few lessons. We were advised from the beginning by Loren Niemi that in hosting a show, it is not the host’s show, although it took a little experience to believe him fully. The host introduces the program, keeps it moving, reminds the audience of the mechanics (what they can expect, please donate, please turn off your cell phone, please donate, honor our sponsors, and please donate), runs the open-mic program, and introduces the featured tellers. Hosting is not a call to tell stories of our own each night, although we do reward ourselves by each appearing as a featured teller one night per season. Starting the program with the open-mic session, instead of at the end or middle, is intentional. Audience tends to trickle in, no matter what you do, and it’s tough to tell a long and intricate story while the room fills and half the audience missed the beginning. Starting the program with the open-mic encourages audience to come in, get settled, and support their friends for the open-mic, and it encourages new tellers to come up and tell a story without embarrassment from following a seasoned professional.

A really big lesson has been the importance of food. We started in a lovely auditorium with great sound, appearing on local public-access TV as an arts program sponsored by the City of Takoma Park. The facility was great, but audience was small. We were in a noncommercial area with no food service, forcing potential audiences to choose whether to eat early, eat late, skip dinner, or skip us. We sought and gained a member grant from the National Storytelling Network to make the jump from the Community Center to cover the venue fee at Busboys and Poets for our third season. Having set the plan, we worked with FSGW to expand the budget for the fourth season, with additional support from commercial sponsors who receive recognition during the program.

The Grapevine is drawing a good audience (although we cherish dreams of growing just… a bit… bigger). We have had autobiographical storytellers, traditional tellers, local and out-of-town tellers, Griot tellers, bilingual tellers and musical tellers, funny tellers and serious tellers; we have tellers coming who tell through movement, and tellers who tell in group performance. Soon, we will be scouting for tellers to fill the program for our fifth season, September 2017 through June 2018, looking for every flavor of story and every mode of live-performance storytelling. Come hear it (and tell it) through the Grapevine!

Submitted by Tim Livengood, written for the Florida Storytelling Association, “InSideStory”

VITG Monthly Story Swap at the home of Margaret Chatham, March 18, 2017

Six storytellers and a couple of additional listeners, gathered on March 18, at the home of Margaret Chatham in Falls Church VA, to hear folktales from around the world. Margaret Chatham began the telling with an Irish tale, The Fairy Spancil.

Bill Mayhew followed up with another Irish tale, How the Plow Came to Ireland.

Elsa Stecher took us to China with The Young Head of the Family.

Eve Burton told The Firebird from Mythical Birds and Beasts from Many Lands, by Margaret Mayo

Miriam Nadel told Tia Miseria.

Finally, Bill Mayhew enticed Roger Metcalf to tell his first story ever, No News. Roger even did the hard part! We’re all proud of him for it.

The storytelling was followed by delicious snacks including homemade peanut-butter cookies.

Submitted by eve burton

VITG Monthly Story Swap at the home of Cricket Parmalee, February 12, 2017

Nine or ten tellers were joined by an additional three or four listeners, depending how you count, at the home of Cricket Parmalee in Silver Spring, MD, for the February Story Swap. Jane Dorfman began the telling with Svetlana and Davit from Fearless Girls, Wise Women & Beloved Sisters: Heroines in Folktales from Around the World, edited by Kathleen Ragan.

Next up was Bill Mayhew with a tale of an acorn, a squirrel, a fish, and an explanation of why Bill never lies.

Margaret Chatham followed with The Day the Sun, in Rising, Got Caught in a Tall Tree, a story about the first bat.

Walter told a fisherman tale with frogs, a snake and a shot of Jack Daniels.

Linda McGivern told a charming story about a floating lake from The Golden Hoard: Myths and Legends of the World, by Geraldine McCaugrean and Bee Willey: The Lake Flew Away.

In keeping with the approach of Valentine’s Day, Harold Feld, after reminding us that Jews don’t celebrate Saint Valentine’s Day, told the tale of Nathan the Adulterer, about the faithfulness of Nathan’s wife Rachel, against all odds and a suspicious husband.

Cricket Parmalee shared two tales of romance: Nasruddin’s Search for the Perfect Wife, and Yonjiwa Seeks a Bride: A Folktale from the Congo, retold by Margaret Read MacDonald,  found  in The Healing Heart – Families: Storytelling to Encourage Caring and Healthy Families, edited by Allison M. Cox and David H. Albert, New Society Publishers, 2003.  (And it says it’s reprinted from The Storyteller’s Start-up Book by MRMcD, from August House, 1993.) We all loved that the bride was chosen for being strong and large.

After Bill Mayhew sneaked in a quick telling of The Clothing Merchant, I told one of my favorite romantic tales, Fortune, inspired by the book of that title by Diane Stanley. Fortune includes two romantic couples: farmer’s son and another farmer’s daughter, and prince and princess; as well as a dancing tiger, a wicked enchantress, and a tale-within-the-tale.

Jennifer Hine closed storytelling, but not the evening, with two poems: Sneezles by A.A. Milne, and The Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll.

Stories were followed by a table laden with goodies: Roger’s home-made peanut brittle, lemon custard pie, Tim’s homemade bagels with cream cheese, fresh bakery bread from Walter, and a plethora of chips, cheese, crackers and cookies. Yummm!

Tim Livengood, who had been too tired to tell a story during the first part of the evening, sustained, no doubt, by all the good things to eat, regaled us with tales of Alcibiades, Nicias and Nicaratus.

submitted by eve burton