Loren Niemi will be in the area March 26-30, 2017

Noa Baum says, “A wonderful opportunity to hone your craft and grow your storytelling art.
I’ve learned so much from working with him over the years.
He’s a great and very generous coach.”
Loren say of his coaching sessions,
“I can provide coaching in three areas (pick one or some combo thereof) – 1) coaching on what is the story? Moving from a first notion or notes, to the what do you want to tell frame for a story. 2) shaping the story. Whether it be plot or emotional arc or making the meaning and why it matters clear. and 3) performing – how does the story fit for time or venue? What do you need or want to do to fully inhabit the story?  Priced at $50 an hour or portion of.”
Contact Loren at niemistory@aol.com

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

FSGW MidWinter MiniFest February 4, 2017

Tim Livengood hosted another excellent line-up of storytellers on the Storytelling Stage at the FSGW MidWinter MiniFest again this year: Bill Mayhew, Jane Dorfman, Nick Newlin, Eve Burton and the Twinbrook Tellers, Chris Potts, Walter Jones, Cricket Parmalee, Jennifer Hine, Bob Rovinsky, and Candace Wolf.

I did not see/hear all the stories; I have still not mastered how to be in two places at once (though Jane Dorfman told a lovely Chinese folktale on that topic, Chien Nang). Some of the other highlights that I was able to enjoy:

Marren and Bill Mayhew telling No News together

Nick Newlin’s personal tales about school in Mexico,  travels in Thailand and hiking in the Himalayas


Of course, the Twinbrook Tellers were there. Celia told The Fox and the Horse. Lily told The Frog Who Became Emperor, a traditional folktale from China, learned from a Jim Henson graphic novel.


Noah told Katcha, the Shepard and the Demon, adapted from the telling by Jane Yolen. I rounded out their program with The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig, adapted from the book of that title by Eugene Trivizas.

This year, besides stories on the Storytelling Stage, there was also an hour of storytelling in the  “Family Room.” Michael Fleming, Barbara Effron, Margaret Chatham and I told stories to an appreciative audience in a room full of parents, grandparents, and children of all ages.

The storytelling day ended with  Tim Livengood regaling us with tales of the Ancient Greeks, admonishing us all to do what we know is right, even when the odds of success are against us, followed by the annual swap at which Margaret Chatham and I told the tales we’d prepared, but had not had time to tell in the Family Room show.

Thanks to FSGW for another great festival and to VITG for providing storytellers to keep up this particular folk tradition! And thanks to all the listeners who came to enjoy the telling!

submitted by eve burton


VTIG Story Swap at the home of Starr Kopper January 14, 2017

Eight storytellers and an additional four listeners, we started the New Year right  at the home of Starr Kopper in Washington D.C.

Margaret Chatham started the telling with a Japanese folktale, The Wife’s Portrait  from Folktales of Japan, Keigo Seki.

Eve Burton followed with another Japanese folktale, The Ronin and the Tea Master, from The Sword of the Samurai by Eric Kimmel.

Wishing to extend her Christmas holiday celebrations and tell this story one more time before having to tuck it away until next year, Cricket Parmalee gave a very dramatic presentation of the Mole Family’s Christmas based on the book by Russell Hoban.

Starr, who had intended to tell James Thurber’s Many Moons, instead enchanted us all with a series of personal tales about Mary Shepherd, illustrator of Mary Poppins.

Returning to the theme of “moles”, Jonathan Metcalf-Burton began a telling of the first chapter of Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. He has promised more of the story soon.

After a small amount of prompting, Jane Dorfman told a Grimm tale, The Seven Ravens.

Walter shared a personal story about cleaning out the attic of his 90-year-old father. He had found a piece of twisted metal and wondered what it was and why his father had kept it. Turns out, it was a piece of a  V rocket from WWII. Walter wondered what other objects he might find in his father’s house, thinking to toss them out without ever knowing why they’d been saved.

The final tale of the evening was told by Adam. He recounted his experiences during Tropical Storm Lee in 2011, when floodwaters burst into his basement, destroying his computer on which was the only copy of a book he was writing, and damaging years of journals.

After that, we all needed a cookie, a homemade chocolate truffle, some cranberry bread, and of course, some of Starr’s delectable chocolate cake with chocolate-sour-cream frosting. There were also healthy sweets: clementines and grapes: and crunchy veggies and dips.

submitted by eve burton





Maryland Traditions Apprenticeship Awards and Project Grants

Maryland Traditions applications for Apprenticeship Awards and Project Grants are now open!

Maryland Traditions, the folklife program of the Maryland State Arts Council, is pleased to open applications for its annual Apprenticeship Awards and Project Grants. These two forms of support are designed to help artists and organizations document, preserve, and sustain Maryland’s traditional arts and culture.

The Maryland Traditions Apprenticeship Award funds a year-long period of study between a master and apprentice artist in the folk and traditional arts. These awards support the passing down of cultural knowledge in a wide array of living traditions in Maryland. Past Apprenticeship Award recipients include performers of Nepali folk music (pictured) and Korean drumming, as well as practitioners of Chinese calligraphy and Norwegian rosemåling. Download the application for this award here. Note that Apprenticeship Award applications must be submitted on paper and postmarked before midnight on Friday, Feb. 3, 2017.

The Maryland Traditions Project Grant helps organizations add significance to Maryland’s cultural communities by encouraging and funding professionals as well as community scholars, organizations, and artists working with Maryland’s traditional arts and culture. Past Project Grant-funded activities include the production of an old time fiddle competition, a rowhouse arts festival, and a documentary film on traditional river baptisms. Access the application for this grant here. Note that Project Grant applications must be submitted via eGrant, MSAC’s online grant application system. Instructions are available via the link above. Online submission of applications is due by 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 3, 2017.

Technical assistance for Maryland Traditions Apprenticeship Awards and Project Grants is available to all applicants. Please refer any questions or comments to Maryland Traditions Director Chad Edward Buterbaugh at (410) 767-6450 or chad.buterbaugh@maryland.gov. We hope to hear from you by Feb. 3!