Of Slams and Evil Folktales

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September 15, 2012 by Paula Reed Nancarrow

As I explained in the post before last, in addition to tweeting on my own behalf, I currently tweet for Northstar Storytelling League.  It is an organization which may soon be changing its name – being often confused with the regional storytelling organization, Northlands Storytelling Network, and sometimes even with the National Storytelling Network.  Both are worthwhile organizations that I also belong to. But for some reason, there are just too many storytelling organizations whose names begin with N.  At any rate, as of the date of this blog post, our Twitter account is still @NorthstarStory, as is the Facebook page, and I encourage you to follow both if you want to know about storytelling in the Twin Cities.

On the Twitter account, I try to provide and repost content that is of interest to storytellers everywhere, and one of the ways I try to do this is by having a folktale theme for the week. Right now I am using the themes provided for the year by Story SlamMN – because no one has given me any better ideas, and because it’s a good way of preparing my mind for a story.  Their themes are monthly, however, not weekly – so I need suggestions for further topics.  And I’ll take them anywhere – in the comments here, on the Twitter feed, on the Facebook page – from anyone who is interested in folktales or storytelling.

Last month the SlamMN theme was “cash,” and I did my version of a folktale from India called The Farmer and the Money-Lender. It didn’t score particularly high; partly, I suspect, because the judges were not convinced that a folktale was sufficiently “original” as material, and partly because I was not able to get it under five minutes.  I actually bracketed the story with personal material, and at some point I’ll post it and you can compare it to the source and decide for yourselves what constitutes an “original” treatment of a folktale.

Fortunately, the hostess with the mostest at Story SlamMN, the beauteous Allison Broeren (who is both on the Northstar board and a member of the Rockstar Storytellers, bless her amazing heart, lets people finish even if they are over time. This is not always the case in other slams, where they kill you off with kindness (literally hugging you off the stage) or audience applause that makes it crystal clear you are done.  I try not to abuse this with rambles and unprepared material, but the truth is this is one of the best venues in town for trying out new material right now – better, IMHO, than an Open Mic where there is no theme (though Allison hosts one of those as well, Word Ninjas, on behalf of the Rockstars, the second Tuesday of each month, if that’s your persuasion) and it’s where my friends show up.  So there I go.

The theme for next month’s Slam is “Evil” (as in money is the root of all…) and here are the evil folktales I found online.  By the way, Northstar has a great venue in Minneapolis for people who like to share folktales run by another Northstar member, Dorothy Cleveland, called Folktales Rising.  It meets the fourth Tuesday of the month – Tuesday seems to be a popular storytelling night in the Twin Cities – at the Book House in Dinkytown,  It’s a very casual story sharing circle, and you should show up some time, to tell or just to listen. I shall perhaps try out an evil tale there myself.

To conclude, here are a week’s worth of @NorthstarStory tweets on folktales about evil:

  • The Villas’ Spring: A Jugoslav #folktale about good and evil: http://ow.ly/dqCx2
  • Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil: folktales of Aarne-Thompson-Uther type 243A http://ow.ly/dueO4
  • Concerning the fate of Essido and his evil companions: a Nigerian #folktale: http://ow.ly/dqD6k
  • The Smith and the Demon: A Russian #folktale in which evil gets a little respect: http://ow.ly/dqDvO
  • ONE-EYED LIKHO: another Russian #folktale in which a blacksmith encounters evil. Shades of Polyphemus. http://ow.ly/dqDVw

Do you have a link to a folktale you like about evil? Please leave it in the comments! Book links are OK, but links to online content are preferred. If a folktale about money comes to mind, you can leave the link here.

And if you have ideas for other folktale themes you’d like to see explored, you can leave them here, tweet @NorthstarStory, or suggest them on my Facebook page (where my blog is cross-posted) or on Northstar’s page.


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