The theme for this global celebration highlighting the art of storytelling is "neighbors". This event, usually held on March 20, is fairly new but is an exciting new way to promote and practice the art form. To learn more go the WSD website.
[ARTWORK by Mats Rhenman].



At the beginning of the 20th century a line of reasoning emerged that sought to remove the "fairy tales" from childhood. The rationalists viewed them as harmful to a child, establishing myths and artificial realities when a child needed reality. Fairy tales were relegated to "nonsense" or "lies" and numerous other labels that said they were not suitable for a healthy developing child. They were filled with monsters and awful things...... Author G. K. Chesterton, however, wrote in defence : "Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed."

Recommended Reading: Nuts & Bolts

This book by Harlynne Geisler , Storytelling Professionally: The Nuts and Bolts of a Working Performer is a must have for anyone thinking about going "pro" or for anyone who will hire storytelling professionals. Basic information, sound advice, and lots of examples make this a valuable resource. May need to look for it but it is worth the effort. Read a review: http://storyteller.swiftsite.com/stprore.htm.

Another classic in the field - it is more expensive and may also be hard to find. The World of Storytelling by Ann Pellowski. It is a more scholarly work covering the history, training, ethnic applications and cultural interpretations of storytelling around the globe and through time.



It is summer reading program time in the public libraries of Oklahoma. Here are few of the tellers who are being scheduled to delight local children, youth, and families:
Al Bostick
Fran Stallings
David Titus
Marie Harris
Barbra Jones
Kathryn Thurman
Dwe Williams
Laurette Willis
Big Magic Book
Michael Corley
Gwendolyn Hooks
Marilyn A. Hudson
Dan Gibson
Jiann Powers

Don't see your name? Leave a comment and it will be added.


Margaret Read MacDonald notes that “storytelling is an oral folk art…distinct from conversational speech, because through body language, delivery, and attitude, the teller enters a performing mode. And yet, this performance is distinct too from traditional theatrical performance: it is more intimate, and a sense of comradery develops between teller and audience. Storytelling is an audience shaped art form.” (Twenty Tellable Tales pg. 181). Instead of proudly proclaiming the uniqueness of storytelling...it has often limped along, embrassed it was not more theatrical (as it that was a justification or permission for its existence) or ashamed it was so intimate or "folksy".

Anne Pellowski notes that there are a vast variety of storytelling styles based in culture, in story purpose, and in teller individualization. She lists: Native American Styles, African Folk Styles, African Bardic Styles, European Bardic Styles, European Folk Styles, Gaelic Styles, Asian Bardic and Theatrical Styles, Asian Folk Styles, Chinese Bamboo Clapper Style, North American Ethnic Styles, Religious Storytelling Style, Theatrical Styles, Library and Institutional Syles. (World of Storytelling, pg. -138-157). New styles of telling (Spoken Word, Story Slams, Digital Storytelling, etc.) are now emerging. It is the ability of storytellers to adapt and change that has kept this "ancient" art form alive.

In recent years, more and more touches of theatrics have been added to be simply "crowd pleasers" under the assumption that "today's child or audience" needs action and variety. Not necessarily....I have seen tough inner city children who could not sit still for a commercial- sit awed and entranced, hanging on every word the storyteller spoke and without the frenzy or bellicose elements. I have seen tattooed semi-felons drinking in the words of a softly spoken story with complex ideas and thoguhts. I have seen children from every race and status clustered around a storyteller in the center of a room, as she softly told her tales.....I was not the teller in any of these memories.....so I can be totally objective....

I have also seen a lot of meaningless shouting, jumping around, audience participation, and over the top acting in some storytellers that was fun to watch, but was a lot like eating spun sugar....it left you feeling a little empty......it was junk food that left nothing for the mind or the heart to think on and discover days later....

ALL STYLES OF ORAL STORYTELLING ARE EQUALLY VALID. Each of the styles listed by Pellowski can be useful and fun and achieve satisfaction in customers and audiences. None should be used to define storytelling into one particular style. Instead, celebrate the vast diversity of this art form called storytelling...and appreciate the artistry, individualism, and vision of all its varied members.



"STORY SLAMS" are usually more urban, avant garde, and definitely adult venues. They are edgy, progressive, hip-hop inspired short stories told in fast forward of the experiences of modern life. Think storytelling counter culture or the tales of a new, different generation being spun in ways previous tellers might never have dreamed. They are often held in coffeee houses, museums, art galleries, night spots, or city parks. There are, however, events aimed at teens and young adults (see http://www.youthstorytelling.com/toolbox/Youth_and_Storytelling_Keding.pdf)

There is a very good blog at First Person Arts that includes a description and a video. These are operated a little differently and have emerged from the "Poetry Slam" movement of performance art. They are often competitions and regularly tellers put their name in a hat or jar and the lucky ones tell. There is one that occurs in OKC - usually in June - check the MySpace page for insights: http://www.myspace.com/okcstoryslam.


HISTORY TOURS of Downtown OKC. The Wall Street Journal (June 24, 2008;pg. D7) shares how various hotels in Denver have resident historians who regale tours and guests with the history (legend and factual) of the hotel. Image a resident storyteller/guide in the Skirvin or the lovely downtown bank?

HISTORICAL TOURS: The present COX CONVENTION CENTER sits on the old "Hell's Half Acre" and notorious saloons and bawdy houses of pre-statehood. That is also were the famous Chinese Tunnels were and could tie in well with the Asian Heritage section just to the north. "DEEP DEUCE" could share the magic and wonder of the great music that was born and shared there by some of the great names of jazz and blues. "COW TOWN" to the south could be revitalized via celebrations of the old west heritage....

AFTER HOURS WALKING TOUR: The growing PARANORMAL industry in the country indicates that a PARANORMAL WALKING TOUR of places related to the early day shoot outs or legends might be feasible in, and around, the downtown-bricktown areas.

RIVER TALES: Oklahoma stories told on the river boats.....

What better place to place storytellers who can act as guides/performers/living history figures, etc.? OKC, or any community, could benefit by tapping into the storyteller/historian/theater groups to locate, train, and use such to highlight their history in an interesting manner.



Shaun Perkins, Locust Grove, Oklahoma writer and storyteller, has received news a story of hers will be featured in an upcoming issue of, Storytelling Magzine, periodical of the National Storytellers Network (August 2008). "The story is a mother/daughter one(similar to the Demeter/Persephone myth), but it has an Oklahoma setting." Shaun told Oklahoma Teller. "It is also a kind of "creation" story, as it gives a fanciful version of where our state wildflower--the firewheel--came from."

Here is the link to Storytelling Magazine. It's a bimonthly that NSN members get free and that anyone can order individual copies of.

How Diverse is Oklahoma Storytelling?

Reading a blog recently this idea floated to the surface. Currently, Oklahoma stoytelling is more diverse than at any time in its history with a greater openness, and appreciation, to the vast ethnic groups that have enriched the state. The tales of native American peoples, the tales of the South, the Irish, the Polish, and many others who settled here have added flavor to the melting pot. There is still room for more diversity as the vast palette of story types, as well as story tellers, are enlarged in the coming years. Oklahoma continues, like the rest of the country, to be developing and can look forward to being charmed and delighted by Hispanic stories, Asian Stories, Middle-Eastern Stories, Pacific Stories, and many others. Oklahoma has opened its arms to environmental stories and stories of faith and stories of peace and tales of history. What Oklahoma has to look forward to is unifying all those who "tell" in historical interpretation, walking tours, ghost tours, radio, cinema, sermons, story slams, and other emerging art forms into its understanding of what 'storytelling' means in the state.


Nearby Events

Tejas Storytelling Conference July 26, 2008San Antonio, TX
National Storytelling Network Conference August 7-10, 2008 Jonesborough, TN

Just In Time For Halloween: The Ghost Teller

Marilyn A. Hudson is the "Ghost Teller" with folktales, forgotten history, spooky tales, and strange happenings from Oklahoma history. Planning an event this halloween? Check out the "Ghost Teller".



Her name meant "bearer of the morning" and her stories brought the dawn of a new era in the appreciation of the traditional arts in the life of Oklahoma. In the 1980's she was named Oklahoma's first cultural treasure and how fitting. Roger Harris of the Oklahoma History Center has a synopsis of her life at
http://digital.library.okstate.edu/encyclopedia/entries/T/TE001.html and there is a page dedicated to her on the Chickasaw Nation website at
http://www.chickasaw.net/site06/heritage/250_951.htm . A recent stage production has been developed that honors this remarkable Chickasaw woman . Her story "Baby Rattlesnake" was published as adapted by Lynn Moroney http://www.ipl.org/div/natam/bin/browse.pl/A212

“art binds all people together”-- Te Ata

An auditorium on the campus of Oklahoma University of Arts and Sciences honors her as well


STORYTELLING IN OKLAHOMA CITY: 1960-2000. (In progress)

Storytelling” has been described as the writing of a book, the reading of a book aloud, the acting out of a book’s story, the creation of images to convey a story line, and the process of orally conveying a story. It is entertainment, it is a folk art, it is theater… This fluidity of definition has resulted in more than a little confusion by journalists, publicists, and the public.

In 1943 columnist, Edyth T. Wallace queried if storytelling for small children had become a lost art. She urged parents and others to see that it did not disappear and recommended a book and a brochure she had found to provide tips for learning and sharing stories.

“Story time starts at City Libraries” declared one OKC headline in 1965 about a “spring storytelling cycle being readied by the local system. They may have been influenced by the highly successful work of Augusta Brown in New York. Contextually it is apparent they meant the tradition story “reading” of a printed book to a group of children[2]. The next year, however, in “Libraries Slate Storytelling” it is pointed out that children would be given opportunity to “listen to the centuries old art of storytelling” implying it was focusing more on the oral tradition[3].
In 1972, Clair Jones, of the speech and theater department at OCU, conducted a worskshop on Creative Dramatics and Storytelling” at the university.

Storytelling found a regular home in Oklahoma, as elsewhere, in the annual summer break programs offered through local public libraries.

While delighting children everywhere, storytelling was also being rediscovered as a viable and entertaining pleasure for adults. In 1973, the now famous Jonesboro Storytelling Festival in Tennessee was born proving that storytelling had a wider appeal than just for the nursery set.[6] It had proven itself entertaining to a wide age group, but it was also being suggested by academics that storytelling could be useful in many disciplines. In an AP story by George W. Cornell in November of 1973, Harvard theologian Dr. Harvey Cox expressed the need for theologians and the church to reclaim storytelling.[7]

The local library system of OKC, the Metropolitan Library System, continued its annual “storytelling workshops” at three libraries who repeatedly served as hubs in the 1970’s and 1980’s for such events: Southern Oaks, the Downtown library, and the Ralph Ellison branch. Presenters at these training events included Roxanne Rhodes, Donna Deniston, Karen Jones and others. In 1977, the MLS was even “looking for storytellers” to be trained to learn “book selection, storytelling techniques, and theme ideas” for preschool storytimes in area libraries.

Into the 1980,’s storytelling continued to be encourage and promoted at OCU under Claire Jones and in the public libraries. It was also being introduced into retirement centers as well.

In 1982, Linda Levey, along with the OKC Arts Council, the MLS, and other groups launched a “storytelling festival” event aimed primarily at adult audiences and “WinterTales” was born. A year later, Levy, along with Lynn Moroney of the OKC Arts Council were sharing stories in a multi-arts venue called, “Festifall”.

Ann DeFrange, local journalist, interviewed in 1986 visiting storyteller Bob Wilhelm, a featured teller at that year’s “WinterTales”. The focus of the event was to be to revive “our native skills to communicate to other people.”
[10] Oklahoma City had been involved in reviving this skill for a number of years already.

The groundswell of a storytelling renaissance blossomed from the folk music movement in the early 1960’s. The nations approaching bicentennial, when all things in the communal past were revisited, and re-discovered, saw a revival of many “folk arts” and storytelling was one of those. Just as the Jonesboro Storytelling Festival provided a impetus in the 1970’s the development in 1988 of an “evening of storytelling” called “Tallabration!” would do the same for the next two decades. [see entry on the history of the event in Oklahoma).

Some segments of Oklahoma society needed little effort to “rediscover” storytelling, since they had kept the flame of custom in their cultures. Oklahoma’s rich palette of ethnic groups included Asians, Native Americans, Europeans, and African-Americans. This meant that a vital, often untapped and sometimes unappreciated, treasure of knowledge, instruction, and history was waiting to be shared. Te Atw, the Chickasaw stotyeller was one early notable individual. In 1996, Tulsa based Miscogee Indian, Wilburn Hill noted he had been brought up to be a tribal storyteller.
[1] Wallace, E.T. “Is Storytelling for Small Children Becoming a Lost Art?” The Oklahoman (Jan.14, 1943:6).
[2] “Storytime Starts at City Libraries” The Oklahoman (Feb.9, 1965: 26).
[3] “Libraries Slate Storytelling” The Oklahoman (Jan. 25, 1966: 38).
[4] ‘First Workshop Today” The Oklahoman (Sept. 30, 1972: 7).
[5] “Libraries Sets Special Events for children.” The Oklahoma (June 2, 1972: 37).
[6] “History of the Festival” at http://www.storytellingcenter.com/festival/history-fest.htm
[7] “Christianity Needs To reclaim Storytelling”. The Oklahoman (Nov. 23, 1973:94).
[8] “Libraries Looking for Storytellers.” Te Oklahoman (Aug.19, 1977:22).
[9] “Retirement Home Plans Storytelling as Regular Activity.” The Oklahoman (Aug. 3, 1982: 42).
[10] “”Storytelling Art Form Worth Keeping Forever.” The Oklahoman (Jan. 26, 1986: 96).

Note: This is a research project, in progress, any additional information and names will be welcome. Email: marilynahudson@yahoo.com or just leave a comment.

History of "Tellabration"(R) in Oklahoma: In Progress

Let me tell you about...."Tellabration!" (R) - A global celebration of storytelling held each November.
Each November storytellers around the globe celebrate storytelling in evening concerts in homes, halls, fields, theaters, bookstories, schools, and any place they can share their love of the art form. In 1988 a storytelling guild in Connecticut decided to offer a special evening of storytelling. It proved so satisfying that they planned more and soon they were happening all over the country! According to one source, Oklahoma's first "TELLABRATION! (R)" was in 1992 at the Sooner Theater in Norman and was produced by Letty Watt.

Some producers include: Letty Watt, Bob Bjorkland, Lois Hartman, Fran stallings, Lynn Moroney, Rosemary Czarski, Marilyn Hudson....

Some of the Oklahomans who contributed their talent to sharing stories in the state's "Tellabrations!" include: Ginger La Croix, Letty Watt, Theresa Black, Robert and Marie Harris, Barabra McBride-Smith, Patsy Packard, David Titus, Weckeach Bradley, Jared Aubrey, Bob Bjorklund, Lois Hartman, Kris Hunt, Peggy Kaney, Sam McMichael, Jo Etta Martneay Bryan, Whit Edwards, Debra Garnejkul, Connie Fisher, Vance Morrow, Sky Shivers, Steve and PAt Kardolff, Will Hill, Tina Saner, Emilea Moring, Kathryn Thurman, Marilyn A. Hudson, Chester Weems, Rosemary Czarski, Liz Parker, Bonnie Smith Jeannette Harjo, Stella Long, Shaun Perkins, and others.

Note: If you kow of other names or details regarding these events - please send them to me. The poster is from the 2002 event hosted by the Pioneer Library System in Norman, Oklahoma. Featured tellers: Lynn Moroney, Jahruba Lembeth, Maureen McGovern and Marilyn A. Hudson.

The Wisdom of the Elders

A network of Native American storytellers includes a directory of several Oklahomans. "Turtle Island Storytellers Network is the American Indian speaker’s bureau being developed to promote talented American Indian storytellers, tribal historians, and song carriers from the Pacific Northwest and Northern Plains. A total of 80 individual webpage portfolios will be developed during 2005, each including information on talented oral cultural artists, their biographical summary and contact information, along with audio, transcript and a photo gallery.These speakers will be available as speakers and consultants. Promotional announcements will be distributed to public agencies, institutions, organizations and the media in the region of the artists. This project is funded by Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, National Park Service, and National Endowment for the Arts."



In the early 1970's in OKC the local libraries (in The Metropolitian Library System) were dynamic supporters of storytelling. They hosted events, trained volunteers, and went out into the community to introduce Oklahoma City to the art of oral storytelling. Many of the first storytellers who charmed audiences emerged from the ranks of librarians and staff within the system.
They were ready when a formal event to celebrate story emerged with the OKC Arts Council's "Wintertales" in 1982. "Wintertales" proved a popular event and grew to become a significant part of the year for storytellers, educators, and listeners across the mid-central regions. It developed into workshops, family concerts, and event concerts with nationally known and local storytellers. Always supported and assisted by the Territory Telllers of Oklahoma who held an "Olio" (story concert) and hosted a reception for the tellers and audience. The momentum continued even as a national event was being born in the event to be known as "Tellabration!" (R).
This "global night of storytelling" only began in the mid 1980's but by 1992 the state organization, The Territory Tellers, was going strong hosting events across the wider metropolitan area of Oklahoma City and in metro Tulsa. It was originally conceived as an event to raise awareness that storytelling was not limited to children and the programs celebrated "adult" storytelling by returning to the complex, socially relevant, and thought provoking tales that once enthralled people of every culture. Subject matter was approporate to adults with adult concerns, experiences, and dreams. In 1992, the event was held in the St. Luke's UMC. Local tellers included: Ginger La Croix, Theresa Black, Robert and Marie Harris, Barbara McBride-Smith, Patsy Packard, David Titus, Weckeah Bradley and Jared Aubrey. However, by the late 20th century the event had evolved to include "family friendly" events and "youth Tellabrations."
In 2003, Rep. Danny Morgan, then state storytelling agency president, Garland McWatters, and storyteller Bonny Smith asked Gov. Brad Henry to designste the week of storytelling (Nov. 16-22, 2003) as "Oklahoma Tellabration Storytelling Week!" Storytelling," Morgan said, " is a valuable method of sharing American folklore and is an important means of contributing to Oklahoman's knowledge of the history of our state."



This link leads to a .pdf of a thrity-six page book from the UK on developing storytelling programs in museums. http://www.mlalondon.org.uk/uploads/documents/Hub.pdf



Sharing engagingly factuallly rich history through non-costumed oral storytelling.

“We created performance stories by adopting the historical storytelling approach of the third person everyman from the time period and told the stories as if the characters had been our neighbors. The challenge was to create narratives that were historically accurate, educational, meaningful, and entertaining. We also knew that there would be members of the audience who had lived here during that time and would hold us to the truth.”
http://www.onceuponanation.org/oldSite05/pdf/Benstitute_press_release.pdf Of the “beanstitute” – Storytellers, garbed in contempory clothing would be stationed around the city. “Beanstitute storytellers are important to the visitor experience because they will paint a more complete picture of the people, the places and the events that shaped our nation," said Amy Needle, executive director of Once Upon A Nation. "With the training at the Benstitute, our storytellers truly will be Philadelphia's newest tourism ambassadors."

"Historying ": the process of the storyteller specializing in bringing the past to life solely through the vehicle of oral storytelling. The teller, like an artist or a writer, will read widely, think deeply, and then find a thread of theme ( or motif) bringing meaning and vitality to the stories of the past. Performance values of developing an engaging and entertaining delivery and presences in order to provide a "draw" for an event. The stories will be linked by some common feature. The bonds of common human experiences, emotions, and needs link the stories. They serve to mentor the current generation by telling the stories (with their implied truths, values, and lessons) to the present. Such storytelling seeks to connect – in one long chain of being – the entirety of human experiences.
Special note: Tour guides can become excellent storytellers in normal gear. One of the best tours experienced by this writer was on the Hill of Tara in Ireland. The bus driver-tour guide strode across the green hills and briefly but with energy and skill gave an abbreviated history of the Hill through snippets of legends and saga. The layers of modern day fell at our feet as we saw the heroes of old rise up and stride across the hills, we heard the ring of ancient swords, and heard the call of birds centuries past.



Personifications - the addition of realia, costumes, and other items in order to provide flavor in a first person interpretation of a real person of history or a conglomerate characters conveyed through entertaining oral storytelling.

Resources or reading:
“We created performance stories by adopting the historical storytelling approach of the third person everyman from the time period and told the stories as if the characters had been our neighbors. The challenge was to create narratives that were historically accurate, educational, meaningful, and entertaining. We also knew that there would be members of the audience who had lived here during that time and would hold us to the truth.”

Just as an actor might learn about the time, the language, the dress, and the person (or prototype character), storytellers doing personifications provide their interpretation of that type of character, interspersed with snippets of history, language, etc. Sections of actual sayings or writings of the person (or category of person) provide a charming and artful flavoring. The teller will be costumed in some manner reflecting the person or the time.


There is a more fluid sense of characterization as the Personification Teller, if acting as a tour guide, serves to bridge the past and the present. They can become their guises or simply provide flavor while they share the facts and recount the engaging stories that add sparkle to their tours. These contribute to a sense of history alive in a place and can be very effective if they have been well trained to keep the tour well paced and their comments engaging and well delivered. The difference between boring and brilliant is a simple matter of storytelling. The "beefeaters" of London Tower wear full regalia as they lead you from place to place. The choice would be to bore you to tears with facts, dates, and reigns....instead they lead you over the grounds and the Tower in story...."here is the place one cold foggy morning......"



All dress, speech, comments, movements, etc. are focused on recreating the known facts or data regarding a person. This can be limiting, since, by definition the person would have to be actually from the location in which the storyteller is telling! Most frequently, these are found at living history sites (forts, Civil War battle sites, historic houses, plantations, colonial villages, etc.). They do not step “out of character.” Purists wear only the garb worn in their characters time. They say only words of the person or known to have been said in the time. They are like windows into the past. Visitors can glimpse as realistic a representation of what once was, without actually being there.


In the past the term has been used to refer to "once upon a time" tales....to bald face lying that would end with a trip to the "woodshed" where discipline was swift and sure.Today, the term is used to refer to everything from film to graphic novels to a rock group. The simple and traditional use of the term has been lost for many.

Types of Storytelling:Traditional, Oral. This form is defined as the small group gathered in an intimate environment where a story of moral, imaginative, or educational value is shared by a person. This is the primarily and historically the place where folklore, heroes, myths, and legends are passed along to new listeners and preserved for the generations. Although, it can occur in larger venues - many feel that the larger the audience the less impact the stories have. Some traditions required the storyteller to not move or make only limited gestures as they shared a tale.

Nontraditional, Oral. This form is best defined by the Garrison Keillor approach but also includes storytellers who incorporate objects, costumes, movement and more theatrical elements into their stories. This form may incorporate more animated telling styles with gestures, movement, and audience participation. Although, of late the danger has been that the "theatrical" has been used as the primary definition of storytelling due to a move to tell to larger and larger audiences. This removal from the intimate, face-to-face, traditional storytelling means that you get a more entertaining show but not necessarily better storytelling.

Digital. Stories created, passed on, and preserved in digital formats as video, animation, or audio forms, most often online.Visual. This form includes the use of film, cinematography, photographs to "tell a story". The narrative structure of story is translated into a almost entirely visual format in this medium. As with many art forms this one requires the audience to bring with it their own experiences and emotions as a vehicle for the telling of the story.

Book sharing. This is one of the most common uses of storytelling with children. Librarians and parents and teachers all read a book to children to share the experience through followup instruction, interaction, participation, role playing, puppets, and art. Although a viable vehicle for adults and teens, it does require some preparation for reading pace, intonation, volume, and presentational skills and is sometimes most useful as a "teaser" rather than a real reading of an entire teen or adult book. Many librarians and teachers have found, however, that some picture books are really written on a higher level. This makes the useful for older people because they are visually interesting and contain more mature themes, vocabulary or ideas.

Writing. The marriage of the written word and the oral tradition has tremendously benefited modern storytelling. Although two different mediums with differing requirements they can be used collaboratively since all storytellers need writers to provide material and inspiration and all writers need audiences and contact with natural forms of verbal and non-verbal communications.Performance based. A merger between the modes and values of theater with the stage production of storytelling. Professional storytellers often benefit from classes on how to move, to speech, and express emotion in a natural, artistic, or entertaining manner.

Group, troupe, or team. A sub group that is very ancient and often found in team or duo exchange storytelling. George Burns & Gracie Allen perfected a comedic form of this style and provide a model for the timing and artistry required to team tell effectively.
Musically embedded storytelling. Using music to highlight or link stories.

Organizational Storytelling. Using narrative speech to communicate the successes, training themes, and vision to staff or customer base.

Healing Stories. Stories that are used to provide a therapeutic models of strength, courage, and personal choice to people involved in traumatic events such as terminal illness, natural or man made disasters.

Narrative Preaching. Sermons that are crafted and delivered as stories conveying the elements of religious instruction and values gained from inductive and deductive studies of sacred texts.


Stella Long, Choctaw Storyteller http://www.nativestoryteller.com/
Stella Long is an honored elder of the Choctaw Tribe. She tells stories of her culture and experiences and of growing up in the old way. Many of her stories come from memories when she lived in an orphanage as a young girl and as a tuberculosis patient living in a sanatorium during her teen years. Stella creates animal stories in her own unique way. She goes out to the woods and sits for hours observing animal behavior. Stella often talks and sings to them in Choctaw. She belongs to the Wolf Clan. Recently she performed at the National Museum of the American Indian at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. and is requested to return later this year. She has performed at many places. In 2002, the Word Craft Circle of Native American Writers and Storytellers honored Stella with the Contemporary Storyteller of the Year Award



Jahruba Lambeth is an African born in Oklahoma whose family has been in the Norman area since the land run. He calls himself a 20th Century Griot -- an African storyteller -- who shares his cultural history through songs and stories handed down by his ancestors.
Jahruba has been performing professionally for over 35 years. His approach is to use authentic artifacts, folk-tales, songs and instruments to teach young and old about Africa and the African American experience. He selects stories that encourage young people to think for themselves -- such as the story of the greedy hunter of Ibo village who found out the hard way about the power of greed, or Fulumbo of the Fulanis, the handicapped boy who saved his village from Zulu raiders with the magical rhythm of peace. There are stories of Ananzi the spider, always up to tricks, and many more.

In addition to a BA in African Studies from San Francisco University, Jahruba has studied with master drummers and street musicians from around the world. CONTACT: http://www.jahruba.com/booking.htm


Add this as a possible link for future storytelling events and artists: The Performing Arts Studio in the historic depot at Norman, Oklahoma. Several stellar events occurred there earlier this year - but seemed under promoted in the media unfortunately - featuring people such as Jahruba Lambeth, Krickett Rhoades, Kim Zahlller, and Erin Guiltner. Hopefully even more storytelling events will be occurring in Norman, Oklahoma via the Performing Arts program, sponsored by the Norman Arts Council.
Visit: http://www.thepas.org/content/blogcategory/40/130/


Storytelling business? Well, that's for kids, isn't it? Discover the massive power of story to communicate in human terms the history, achievements, and impact of your organization through stories. Put a human face on the abstract of corporate activity through anecdotal information that shows the heart and soul of the organization - through stories. The art of storytelling is being rediscovered across the globe as a vital means for communicating in a easy-to-understand and instantly memorable manner all that people in business leadership need to know.....

Check out these sites for more details:



Bonnie Smith and Molly Lemmons have teamed up to present storytelling programs to support the curriculum of Oklahoma History, Geography, and Language Skills.
(Molly at left and Bonnie at right)

Modules include:

"Oklahoma...The Heartbreak of a Nation" (All Ages). A look at the homefront in WW2. Molly & Bonnie.

"History From the Heart". The past comes alive straight from the stories of the people who lived it. Molly & Bonnie, sometimes with friends.

"A Letter Home From Joe": (All Ages) The tale of one young man's experiences in "Mr. Roosevelet's Tree Army" during the 1930's tells of teh Civilian Conservation Corps. Bonnie Smith.

"My Heroes Have Always Been...Real Cowboys of Oklahoma." (Adaptable for all ages) Bonnie Smith.

"Miss Mattie Beal". Heroine of Lawton, and the little darling that won the number two spot in the land lottery of 1901. Brought to life by Molly Lemmons.

"Downtown Oklahoma City: Only Memories Remain." Molly Lemmons in a one-perfoming memory presention of OKC the way it USED to be...before urban renewal destroyed all but the memories.

Contact www.territorytellers.org or Bonnie Smith 405-932-5406 or Molly Lemmons 405-376-2576



June 21, 2008/ OKC

Music /Dance / History

Visit the website at http://www.okhistory.org/Folklife/folklifefestival08.html

From their site: "The Oklahoma Folklife Festival will host music, dance, crafts, and other Oklahoma traditions. Crafts will include Mexican paper flower making, piƱata making, and more. American Indian crafts will include basket making, stickball stick making, corn husk dolls, and the making of Dream Catchers. Traditional European-American crafts will include lace making and woodcarving. This year's poster uses Dorothy Sullivan's dancing turtles and accounts for this year's title, "Dance On Down to the Oklahoma Folklife Festival." / Dancing traditions will include Norahua, a local group that proudly performs traditional dances from many parts of Mexico. Jean Hill's School of Irish Dancers will demonstrate the contest dancing traditions that originated in Ireland. The Northern Plains Indian Club of Pawnee will demonstrate various dances common at Oklahoma's most lively tradition, the Pow Wow. Asian traditions celebrate new beginings with Lion Dancers. This ancient tradition is loud, funny, and wonderfully colorful. "


"Under the Cherokee Moon" at the Cherokee Heritage Center

"I hope many will come out to the Cherokee Heritage Center in Tahlequah, OK this summer to join us for the 2nd year of "Under the Cherokee Moon" - historical dinner theater bringing Cherokee history to life -- and YOU are part of the show! It's interactive drama taking place in the 1800s rural village and the Ancient Village - Friday and Saturday evenings from May 30 through August 16.
Please call the Cherokee Heritage Center for tickets and information at 918-456-6007.Wado (thank you!!!), Laurettewww.LauretteWillis.com"

Mayes County Storytellers

Starting up again after a winter break, the Mayes County Storytellers will begin meeting again on the 2nd Wednesday of every month from 4-5 p.m. at the unique RUBY'S READERY in Locust Grove. Visit their website for more details and current information. They would love for others to join them to share stories, listen to stories and celebrate storytelling in Oklahoma. For other groups, meetings, and events visit the website of the state's only statewide group, The Territory Tellers.


An extraordinary man with a background in education, Chester Weems is also a gifted photographer. His images grace many an Oklahoma storyteller's brochure! His images also bring to life events on the state storytelling groups web site at http://www.territorytellers.org/. Chester is also a wonderful storyteller able to craft tales of human humor and memory that will leave you longing for more.


A retired teacher who keeps busy helping ESL students, Liz is a poet and a storyteller. Combining the two she crafts fun and thoughtful pieces drawn from the well of personal history or puts an exciting new twist on an old fairy tale favorite! Contact her via the Territory Tellers website.



A research project is being initiated to gather names, anecdotal information, etc. about who some of the early pioneers of storytelling in Oklahoma.

Who were the early oral storytellers in Public libraries? From the early Carnegie library dates to 1990 - who were the people who introduced their communities to oral storytelling?

Who were the early oral storytellers in Public Schools? From the earliest days who were the first (or most memorable) teachers who charmed and instructed via storytelling?

Who were the most influential oral storytellers of 20th century in Oklahoma?

Do you have a fond memory of a visit from a storyteller to your school, library, or town?

Send information to:
Marilyn A. Hudson
5658 NW Pioneer Circle
Norman, Oklahoma 73072

Can Anyone Identify The Author?

In a newspaper clipping from 1912 (no other information) there was a poem printed but with no author or title. Has anyone run across this:

"There's a world of fine contentment
where the fire's burnin' bright,
The children grouped around on a snowy winter night.
Listenin' to the stories that come from long ago,
Of fairies and wild witches riding' broom-
sticks o'er the snow.

Listen to no candidates, nor heed campaign call:
won the highest office - Storyteller
to them all!
rosy faces shining in the fire's friendly glow,
best of all, they're loving the storyteller, so!"


Biblical storytelling can be a lot like opening a can of worms. The storyteller who begins to tell in their own church or congregation may be shocked that others may not view things in the same way. They learn that the teller has to tread carefully - and fully understand - the different values and beliefs of groups, if they wish to share takes more broadly.

Part of the "problem" is that storytelling is an oral communication and in many conservative groups (e.g., Holiness, Pentecostal, and Evangelical in theology) oral communication was the primary means of proclamation or preaching. It is then understood as "sacred" and prohibitions on frivolous speech, unnecessary speech, combined to make the tendency for spoken word to be used only for "preaching". Add to this that for many people "storytelling" equates to lying and should, therefore, be shunned. Some also have a very high view of scripture that excludes the ability to add details in the retelling of stories, of putting into modern settings, etc. This often limits creative re-tellings or dynamically bringing the "old, old tale" into a post-modern age.
Storytellers who tell in conservative churches, camps, etc. should be aware and take the time to learn something about the adherents before they share stories. Offended ears hear nothing.....

One group that exists to support people who want to tell stories of faith and the Bible : The Network of Biblical Storytellers. See information, resources, events, and membership at www.nobs.org
Also, read this article from Christianity Today on evangelical storytelling.



Barbara, a career teacher, has taught children andadults in the USA, Mexico, and South America. She grewup in Oklahoma, but as an adult her love for traveltook her throughout the United States and LatinAmerica. For many years she and her family lived inMexico, Peru, and Paraguay, and traveled extensivelyin South America. Her first hand knowledge as a 'foreigner' taught her the need to respect culturaldiversity.
Barbara has told stories and given workshops in conferences, libraries, schools, and churches throughout the USA, including, Texas Foreign LanguageAssociation, Southwest Conference on LanguageTeaching, Southern Conference on Language Teaching,U.C.O. Multicultural Institute, Oklahoma ForeignLanguage Teachers Association, Red Dirt Book Festival,Festival of the Arts, and the Spirit of Oklahoma Storytelling Festival. She is a board member of Territorial Tellers, state storytelling guild. She served on the Oklahoma Foreign Language Teachers Association board, Oklahoma Language Teachers Leadership Team, and is past president of Teachers of Elementary and Middle SchoolForeign Languages.

AUTHOR Her books include: Pisadas Por El Peru, WorldLanguages - Group Projects, Talking Finger PuppetPlays, In the Footsteps of the Pioneers and Pisadasde Devotion. Her most recent book, Rolling Heads and Other Tales toTell, is a medley of stories of Spanish explorers andfolk tales of the native people of the Americas. For a complete list of her books see her web site AVAILABILITY: Will travel throughout the United States and LatinAmerica,
FEE negotiable. VISIT HER AT http://www.languagefootprints.com/



The full tapestry of Oklahoma's rich cultures, traditions, and heritage dynamically shared through the timeless beauty, humor, and innovation of storytelling... It is not too late to register and attend this 2nd annual storytelling festival in Seminole, Oklahoma.....TERRITORY TELLERS