These Yarnspinners Don’t Make Sweaters
How a purely accidental event can change your life! In 1996, I happened to be listening to a Blue Lake Radio program where Nancy DeVries, an internationally known story teller, was being interviewed. She told a story on the air, and invited listeners to attend an upcoming storytelling concert at the Muskegon Museum of Art. The concert was presented by Yarnspinners of Muskegon. Nancy also extended a welcome for listeners to attend a meeting. I was charmed . I have been attending meetings of the Yarnspinners since then. (In 1992, Nancy DeVries and Hackley Librarian Alison Day were midwives to the Yarnspinners. They formed a group which met monthly under the motherly wing of the Hackley Library. The group was so successful that it has met monthly ever since.)
The Nature of Storytelling
We humans must have food, water and shelter to survive. But our human spirits also need nourishment. We seek to be understood through our stories, which probably began around caveman campfires – with action stories! “Og” returns from a mastodon hunt. He tells the story of his expedition to his significant other, “Na,” describing the mastodon’s fierce tusks, its horrible trumpeting, and his narrow escape. Na hugs him and tells him she is so happy he is safe. They eat vegetable soup that night. We are made up of our stories; they are the substance of our being.
Richard Lovelace said, “…Stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage…” We may be blind or crippled, but storytelling allows us to soar on journeys which are limited only by our own imaginations. Getting involved with a story can take your mind off illness and tragedies which are part of life. And with storytelling as medicine, there are no worries about dangerous side effects: no chest pain, blurred speech, balance problems, coughing up blood, swelling, nausea, pain or a purple rash. And have you noticed that the older you get, the more frequently you encounter a sign in front of your brains that says, “Temporarily Closed. Please Call Again Later”? Memorizing a story will transform your brains from cream of wheat back into vital grey matter. It is free and it is not fattening. And for me, every telling, every listening, have become part of a never-ending dance of joy.
The Rebirth of Storytelling
In 1972 in Jonesborough, Tennessee, a group of storytellers sat around the town square and told stories. Merriment abounded. It was such fun that the event was presented every year since then. Today, the National Storytelling Festival held every October in Jonesborough draws an audience in the tens of thousands with its marquee of nationally known artists. Since then, many cities have developed their own festivals. A notable one is Storyfest, held in Jackson, Michigan every May. It is free to the public and also features famous storytellers.
What’s a Tellabration, Anyhow?
The late storyteller, Paw Paw Pinkerton, decided that there were not enough story events geared to adults. He became a “Johnny Appleseed” of Storytelling. In 1988, he organized a series of six venues in Connecticut where adult-oriented stories were told simultaneously. The success of his idea spread to cities in each of the United States, where the tradition of simultaneous storytelling is carried on every November. Many countries have tellabrations now, on every continent except Antarctica.
Helen Fink of Whitehall started a Tellabration for Whitehall and Montague in November, 2004 and produced a total of five annual talent-filled, fabulous, Tellabrations before retiring to other beloved projects. She handed over the reins to Yarnspinners of Muskegon, which held its first annual Tellabration in 2011, its second in 2012.
Yarnspinners of Muskegon are pleased to announce their Third Annual Tellabration, Friday, November 8, 2013 at the Muskegon Museum of Art, 296 W. Webster (next to Hackley Library) from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the door for $5 per person or $15 for a family. We are gearing our stories to adults, but young people from 12 up would enjoy the program.
We hope that you will come to our Tellabration. And in the meantime we welcome you to attend a Yarnspinners meeting. Please contact our President, Ned Carter, for dates and places. His phone number is (231) 755-2383; his email is firstname.lastname@example.org
No experience is necessary to become a Yarnspinner. But beware of side effects: you may experience side-splitting laughter!