Posts filed under ‘storytelling’
The chicken was delicious. Everything was good.
Over the yummy Caribbean lunch, we talked with people at our table, several who are members of Maranatha. Dana and her husband, from Toronto, were guests of a member. Dana asked how we, who were not from one of the islands, liked the Caribbean food. I said we’d enjoyed it the year before and this year was no exception. The chicken was especially delicious.
Angie, who sat around the corner from me, said, “You can have more, if you like.”
“Thanks, I told her. Think I’ve had enough and will save a space for dessert.”
Making my way to another table, I asked Sylma Fletcher if I might get a few of her photos for my blog and she was happy to oblige.
Dessert included a celebration cake and plenty of fresh fruit.
Celebration cake; photo credit, Sylma.
One of two pieces reproduced for the service program, and gracious permission by artist Ken Daley to use it on my blog.
The afternoon program began back in the church sanctuary, perhaps a little later than planned, but there had been many people to accommodate in the fellowship hall and the extra time offered a good chance to meet people and chat. For me it included the mother of a child I had once taught in preschool. It’s always a treat to see Chloe and say hello.
First off in the program was the Cameron Heights drumming group under the direction of their leader, Tim. He gave us some history on how these drums were made, which was fascinating. Then the group went through a drumming routine. Who would know that a drum of that size could produce such variety in sound. But then I am not a drummer.
After the drumming group, the concert choir filed up to the front and Mrs. Brenneman, their leader, told us about the first two African pieces they would sing. After finding their note on the piano, they began singing accapella. The third song was a piece by Bob Marley, African-American singer. The choir performed it, to our delight, and then we were given the opportunity to join them in the four parts. What a wonderful piece and so enjoyable to sing. The tune was in my head for some time after the event.
Peter Braid, MP; photo credit, Sylma
Peter Braid, guest and Member of Parliament for Kitchener-Waterloo riding, spoke about his opportunity to attend this event. “During Black History Month, our community comes together to learn about and celebrate the achievements and contributions of Black Canadians” and how we celebrate our diversity at such an event as this. He thanked Pastor Peter Kuhnert and the Maranatha congregation “for bringing Black History Month to life.”
Braid had the opportunity to be part of the delegation to South Africa, representing Canada, for the funeral of Nelson Mandela, whose “example of courage and hope was an inspiration to many.” He said, “It was an honour for me to represent my constituents and all Canadians at Nelson Mandela’s memorial in South Africa last December… We entered the stadium to the singing and dancing of thousands of South Africans. While there was a tinge of grief in the air, the atmosphere was primarily one of celebration. A rejoicing for what Mr. Mandela accomplished for their nation, and gratitude for his long walk.”
Braid said it rained the day of the funeral, and it was unrelenting, but “Africans consider rain a blessing, and fitting on the day of a funeral.”
“It’s as if the heavens were crying” one South African said to me. “Let freedom reign.”
Braid also brought good news about scholarships to be named after Mandela, a fitting tribute to the man. More information will be available later in the year, he said. “Education is the most important weapon you can use to change the world.”
When he had finished his greetings, Ms. Maedith Radlein, a retired school principal, shared her story of overcoming challenges when she first came to Canada and the ones her children also faced. Although she had already been a teacher, she achieved her Canadian certification and then moved on to be a principal of an elementary school. She spoke of feeling as though she was invisible at times, but after much persistence and learning she was successful. She challenged black youth to be persistent and to believe in their goals and to work toward them.
Claudette P. Smith, author of Stone Markers of Grace: A Lasting Legacy gave a short and entertaining reading from her new book. Then an audience member made an announcement about a new film, The First Grader, available in the library, and the program was complete.
Pastor Peter Kuhnert closed the service with prayer. Attendees left the sanctuary to visit with others, clean up after the meal, and go home. It was another successful event.
Peter Braid wrote on Twitter that day after the event: “As I do every year, I enjoyed celebrating Black History Month with the very welcoming congregation at Maranatha Lutheran Church today.”
With thanks, once more, to the artist, Ken Daley; Peter Braid, MP; and photographer Sylma Fletcher (for LINK) for permission to share their art, photography and words on my blog.
The World Storytelling Day is a “global celebration of the art of oral storytelling.” On this day, March 20th for the northern hemisphere, as many people as possible share their stories with others. The sharing can happen around a table of friends, at a family celebration or even in a public concert. Each year presents a new theme that storytellers vote on. I didn’t vote for Monsters and Dragons, by the way, but I’m sure the stories coming out of that theme will be engaging and entertaining. Perhaps even such a tale as Puff of Magic Dragon fame will show up. And sometimes those events fall in the week leading up to the day or sometime following it. The thing is the sharing of stories.
The Baden Storytellers’ Guild, of which I am a member, will again be putting on a concert at the Waterloo Region Museum in Kitchener on March 16th, from 2-4 pm. If you plan to come to Waterloo Region that week, perhaps you will consider coming. Tickets are $10 each for adults and a bargain for the entertainment it provides. Sometimes there are even door prizes to lure and coax guests to try it out. If storytelling is new to you, come and give a listen, for members of our guild tell good stories, but also we will have as our special storytelling guest, Celia Lottridge.
Storytellers are artists in their own way, creating or crafting a story to bring listeners to a place of intrigue, suspense and often mystery too. Celia, I am told, is a wonderful teller, and I also know of her as a picture book author though I have not as yet read one of her books, but have recognized her name as an author
In a profile published by the Manitoba Library Association, written by Dave Jenkinson, Celia said of her earlier life,
As a child, I didn’t ever write for fun, but I used to make up stories a lot and tell them to my sister who was seven years younger than me and a great listener. I also read stories in books and then told them to her afterwards.
After some travelling with her husband to Moscow on an exchange program and then in Ithica, New York, and working in a library there, they moved to Canada after a visit with some of her relatives in Toronto.
Libraries attracted me because I loved books, and I thought that librarianship would be a good career.” An MLS from Columbia followed in 1959. “I took children’s literature from Francis Henne, a great teacher and a true appreciator of children’s books as literature.
She also thought her son, who was eight years old, had moved around enough by the time they settled in Toronto. Through her work in a bookstore, she met Dan Yashinsky and Joan Bodger. As they shared their love of storytelling, they discussed the need for a storytelling organization and Celia found herself on the founding board of the organization, Storyteller’s School of Toronto.
And so I will look forward to the concert and to meet this teller who fellow storytellers are speaking so highly of, and to eventually own the collection of stories that she’s putting together for this year’s StorySave project. I will likely also look for her books in the library. May the sun shine brightly and the weather cooperate for Celia’s trip to Kitchener that day.
And while I speak of storytelling and those who can teach us so much, I want to mention someone whom I have looked up to and who has mentored me in storytelling since joining the Baden guild. While the Story Barn holds a place in our memories, I hope that one day Mary-Eileen McClear‘s stories will also be included in such an august and respected collection. And I hope to see her at our concert this year. Are you listening, Mary-Eileen?
That’s March 16th, 2-4 pm, at the Waterloo Region Museum. Tellers are yet to be revealed. Get a ticket ($10 each) from me or any guild member, the Museum box office, and find how you can be transported through the spoken word, through storytelling.
Today I introduce Alicja Pyszka-Franceschini, of the UK. We’ve been enjoying each other’s writing for a while. Enjoy her reflection on friendships!
My friend is moving. To the other side of the big pond. She will take with her caring family, love of beauty and her sensitive and reflective mothering. Her sense of humour, passion for reading and timely wisdoms thrown at me just at the drop of a hat. She’ll move and from then on we will only be able to have virtual cups of tea when the time change or our owl-like natures permit.
This has been happening to me quite often ever since I settled in England. Different characters and personalities cross my life and our living room, share with us their life events, moments of joy and sadness, jokes and frustrations but eventually venture further to explore different realities and live different lives. It’s difficult to nurture those friendships, divided by space, time and daily routines. We try though, by emails, cards and messages sent now and again, occasional get-togethers, chats and phone-calls, because we miss them— those exchanges of common interests and problems—being part of their lives and their contribution to ours. It often takes to be removed from one’s reality to understand how valuable and enriching our relationships were, that and how much we’ve been learning from them and how much of a better person we became through them.
When I moved from Poland and decided to study here, I was missing my friends so so dearly. All of them… and you know what… this feeling hasn’t changed. I still miss them. They are still in my thoughts and they are still my reference points, I still see myself somehow in them and through them, starting from those in my primary school through to those I met at later stages of my education and through various other experiences. I just think that it’s impossible to forget a friend. Lose touch with, yes, that’s possible, but forgetting is not. And I think that often this is what we are afraid of, of being forgotten, or of being not loved by them as much as in the past. And perhaps they fear that too.
I once met a very eminent senior academic and had a chance to have dinner with him. Over a plate with nice hot food and glasses of wine, he told us stories… of his friends. His whole conversation was filled with friends. You very quickly realised that they were his focus and his life, and what a wonderful focus to have! I expected (and feared slightly) a conversation laden with reflections on politics, literature and history or a strong focus on his academic work, but no. As he was reminiscing with a pause to smile or laugh, it was becoming more and more apparent to me that this man is just living, breathing and enjoying his friendships… he was with those people mentally as much as he was physically with us. He loved them dearly, and that love surpassed the distances that he had travelled.
There is a term in psychology called ‘mirroring’ and it refers to us subconsciously (or consciously) copying gestures, language and emotional responses of others during our conversations. Apparently we tend to see people who mirror our emotional responses as more empathetic. [Therefore, this 'technique' of mirroring is frequently recommended to parents who want to build a good relationship with their children... not to reject or disregard the feelings but to mirror them.] I am thinking of my close and long-distance friendships, and I can see that yes, regardless of the distance, changes in our circumstance, developments, perhaps this is what we still want from our friendships and friends… to be able to ‘mirror’ us somehow. If sharing and being part of daily struggles is not possible, what else remains for us to do?
–Alicja emigrated to the UK from Poland a few years ago to study. She has recently started the blog Postcards without stamps to share her creative interests in writing and photography with the wider community. She is a mum of a toddler who occupies most of her time.
Thank you, Alicja for being willing to share your post.
This morning I posted over at Canadian Writers Who Are Christian, with Writing is not a hobby.
Sometimes that’s what people call it, sometimes that’s how writers or wanna-be writers treat it.
Go on over and read my post and those of other professional writers such as Peter Black, Glynis Belec, Rose McCormick Brandon and more. They will inspire, challenge and often make you laugh too.
The Canadian Oxford Dictionary defines friend, first, as
a person whom one enjoys mutual affection and regard.
A friend can also be a sympathizer, ally or supporter of cause. For today, I’m going with the first meaning.
I have been fortunate to have many friends, those who have been connected to my life at different times and places, and especially those whose friendship lasts through years, with whom we can pick up days, months or a half year later as though one of us had just gone on a trip and come back to tell the tales of the journey. I have friends for whom this is true, including those across city or country from me, miles away down the expressway, or a thousand miles away. It matters not what the distance is, only the connection between us. Friends who share confidences and struggles. Those who listen and pray for us when we’re having a rough time, and for whom we do the same.
“A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.”
― Elbert Hubbard
I’ve had friends in many ages and stations of life. We do not need to be alike; it’s good to understand another person’s preference and not to insist on everyone else being like us but to find the qualities that make us connect. I have friends who are artists, writers, coaches and teachers. I have friends who are gardeners, editors and parents.
“Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”
― Albert Camus
Today I commemorate a friend who died this week, while I also remember Annie (shown in picture above) to whom I said goodbye in 2013. Each one with different but endearing qualities, one whom I have known from childhood until now, the other for years. But they are not the only two friends who have died, just the most recent. As Christians, we look forward to being reunited some day in the future. What a reunion that will be! Yet for now, it’s an aching feeling that describes the loss.
I was told today that my name was a frequent word out of my friend’s mouth. Her family knew the value of our friendship to each other. It felt good to be remembered that way. And likewise she’s been a special person in my life— from childhood on.
Note also the sentiment of A. A. Milne, author of Winnie-the Pooh:
“We’ll be Friends Forever, won’t we, Pooh?’ asked Piglet.
Even longer,’ Pooh answered.
A friend can make you rich, not in the monetary sense, but from a richness of character and quality. Find one, cultivate the friendship, keep it. You’ll know when you have to say “good-bye” that it’s been worth the effort.
Last evening my husband and I attended an event put on by Words Worth Books at the Princess Twin Cinemas in Waterloo, Ontario, for Olivia Chow and her memoir, My Journey. The book, published by Harper Collins, just hit shelves this week.
David Worsley, co-owner of WordsWorth Books, welcomed everyone and gave us a hint of upcoming events including the 30th anniversary plans, followed by Catherine Fife’s warm and insightful introduction and how Olivia has been such a meaningful mentor in her own political journey.
Daiene Vernile, of CTV, conducted the rest of the event similar to a fire-side chat in one of the theatres on such a cold night, but without any fire or fireplace in sight. Although David called this book a powerful political piece of work, so far I have seen only the personal side, but then I have read just the introduction and part of the first chapter. I look forward to reading the entire book.
In the interview, Olivia rose to the challenge of the many questions, both political and personal, for she has not only been a member of a school board, a Toronto city councillor, she is also MP for Trinity-Spadina as a member of the New Democratic Party. A candid woman who speaks with kindness and integrity.
There’s been speculation whether Olivia will run for mayor of Toronto, and while she’s been on Toronto city council and worked at building programs in the city, she is now an MP where she says that bigger changes are made. Among other projects, she was involved with breakfast programs for children and said, “How can you learn when you’re hungry.” She’s not there yet in making a decision.
The current mayor’s name came up more than once, but I appreciated how she deflected the question about how he could do things differently. She answered,”That’s not for me to say.” I appreciated her integrity and said so when she autographed my copy of her book.
Daiene also asked how she had met Jack. Olivia said they had agreed to work together on a fundraising auction. The day they met, working on that auction together, made an impression on both of them. She said for him, she thinks it was”nanoseconds” and for her a bit longer, but soon they were agreeing to meet and getting to know one another.
When asked by an audience member if she still attended to her art, especially sculpting, she answered, “Not so much now.” She said it takes time to do that kind of work, although she did sculpt a bust of her late husband, Jack Layton, after his death. That sculpture is mounted on a piece of pink granite in the place where his ashes are buried and where she planted a small garden around the stone. That speaks endless amount of love to me. Love and sensitivity as well as a way, perhaps, of working through grief, for someone who seemed to be her soulmate. She also speaks with love of her family, and especially her grandchildren.
I could write more and truly wish I’d taken notes, but I was so focused on the conversation, the nuances, and Olivia’s grace in answering the questions, even the difficult ones. I will let you read her book, as I am doing.
On January 4th, I accepted Jeff Goins’ challenge to write 500 words a day for each day of January 2014. I thought, Why not? And so I signed on, planning to use the challenge to work on a project left on the back burner (that is, computer file) untouched for too long. I could also use it to write blog posts to keep up with my resolve to write one a week at the least. Starting late, but I could still accomplish something in the days that remained.
I learned after starting, that the facebook page dedicated to that challenge lists a new prompt each day for people to use. I may use it at some point, but for now I’m making hot trackts through my first draft of a novel for children. No more details. It’s got a long way to go. Enough to say I’m finally writing it, with a female protagonist, for a character sketch I wrote what seems like ages ago.
In our Toastmasters club meeting last week, Rebecca, our Table Topics Master (impromptu speaking), asked us to tell what resolutions we’ve made, or if we haven’t done so, to share something we’re working towards in 2014. My response was about writing: first writing the 500 words per day for January, to post consistently on my blog, and also to continue to search out clients for my editing business.
Best thing about this exercise is that Rebecca was recording our answers and will ask us how we’re doing. That’s one of the best forms of accountability, to know that someone will inquire how we’re doing. The thing about resolutions is, if it’s made on New Year’s Eve, perhaps not a lot of planning has gone into the resolution and how to keep it. On the other hand, as one of our guests said, “New Years seems like a natural time for a new beginning.
Truly a new beginning can happen any time. All we need is the motivation and reason to change or update or even try something new as one of my clients did a few years ago—climbing a mountain. Another went on a journey, on foot and buses, through South American countries and then wrote a book about it.
What you decide to do this year depends on you and where you are at this time. If you’re only beginning to write, a book-length project may not be feasible yet. It might be shorter pieces such as reviews, letters to the editor about something that concerns you. If you’re a reader, you might read and review other writers’ books. It might be stories about your family, or a short story or poetry. Just please don’t start with a book if writing is new to you. Work on it on the side if you must, but hone your writing and build your abilities.
For anyone new and still learning about writing—and there’s always room for some other point of view or new take on an old subject—consider a writers’ conference, workshops for writers, a local writer’s group or an online revision group, whichever works best for you. Just remember, if you’ve planned to write, then write!
Write about what makes you happy, what upsets you. Write about a favourite hobby or a soccer match. Write about gardening, photography, your children or grandchildren, the places you’ve been. Or even the kind of winter we’re having in Canada this year. Write about what interests you, and remember, it’s not about you, but the person who will read your work. But first, write.
There are so many possibilities! So now your job as a writer is to park yourself in a chair somewhere and pick up the pen and paper, or put fingers to the keyboard. To be a writer is to write. Ready, set, go!
January 10th 2014, open storytelling hosted by Baden Storytellers’ Guild at The Button Factory in Waterloo. Begins at 8 pm and goes until 10:30. Bring $5 and your own mug for hot apple cider and then settle in for stories.
Second Friday of the month from September to June. Parking across the road on Regina Street. Accessible and close to bus stops.
Watch for us in January Kitchener Waterloo Snapd. We had a guest at our December event.
This past weekend I attended events for the Wild Writers Festival in Waterloo, Ontario. Friday evening, the events began with The Rock Comes to Waterloo, with Wayne Johnston and Donna Morrissey plus other winners of New Quarterly fiction, non-fiction and poetry contests. Since that was the evening of Stories Aloud at the Button Factory, I missed the first event of the festival, but I was looking forward to a particular workshop and panel discussion the next day.
In particular, I planned to attend Amanda Jernigan‘s workshop, Poetry of Change. The workshop began with a fine introduction by Barb Carter who just happened to be Amanda’s Grade 10 English teacher in high school. She had followed Amanda’s career and delved into Amanda’s poetry, and so she knew of what she spoke. Anyone would be honoured by such opening greetings, and it gave us a brief history of where Amanda has taken her writing abilities.
Amanda nearly lost me in the beginning with her descriptions of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, since I had never read that work, and The Odyssey, a work by the Greek poet Homer, which is a story of return, another I had not read. Still I listened, for Amanda’s workshop was on change and I was interested in what she would cover. She said, “Poetry can preserve life” and she called motherhood “a sea change.” The whole workshop would not be a lecture, however, and she had us think about a poem we’ve known for a long time and how we view it now. Since there were so many of us in that room, she took answers from eight or nine people. From there she asked us to write a line (or lines) about some change in our lives. It could be small or large. After a few minutes, she asked, in order around the table, if we would share, and most did.
I’d been thinking about Remembrance Day, since it was soon to follow, and had been contemplating the small wars around us— a topic for another blog— and had scribbled down a reflection near the beginning of her workshop so I would not forget it. Next she asked us to turn that statement around, give it a twist, to enact change within the poem. Near the end, I shared my line that enacted change. She asked me to reread the first one and then read the final statement. I could see how our poetry could be a medium of change. And I think she won me over on the early poetry by Ovid and Homer. I may just have to add them to my reading pile. Mind you, I won’t have a university class where I can discuss it, but I can at least experience it.
The second event I attended was the panel discussion, How Geography Defines a Writer. I don’t know who comes up with these panel ideas, but I found it most interesting. Panelists were Tomas Dobozy, Ayelet Tsabari, Christine Poutney and Donna Morrissey. Ayalet writes in her second language, English, about her homeland of Yemen. She tried to write Canadian but it didn’t work for her and so she went back to writing as she would have done earlier, but still in her second language. Donna’s university English professor had said she was a good writer but that she must “muddy up” her writing.
Questions from the moderator covered how place matters in their writing; how their homeland affects their writing; as well as how that geography shows up in their writing, if it does. For Donna Morrissey, who hails from Newfoundland, she wanted to write about the French settlement on the western coast of the island, and so the shoreline, the wind and terrain figure largely in those scenes as well as combining history from the time. Having read The Deception of Livvy Higgs, I would agree. I gained a sense of the place early in the book because of her description. The characters lived and the place was real. She gave the closing keynote at the Editors Association of Canada conference in Halifax earlier this year and I had opportunity to meet her there.
Tomas said of the process of writing, “I like those moments of filling a blank page and when stories turn on themselves and change. Those are the moments that keep me going.” Christine asked, “Are we documenting” in our work? She mentioned “recreating geography of spaces” and wondered aloud “how truthful is the imagination.” She is fascinated by this. Ayelet talked about “layered identities” in writing about her homeland and said she didn’t “see any books about them as a people, or about herself as a child growing up in Yemen.” So perhaps now she is filling that gap in her stories.
That’s really only a taste of that panel discussion, but I found it of great interest. Perhaps next year I can attend more events when the festival comes again. By all appearances, it was a successful event.
With Remembrance Day coming so soon and cadets and veterans selling poppies, it’s the perfect time to listen to Adele Simmons’ beautiful tribute. She’s humble and would want the focus on the reason for our remembrance.
To those who fought and those who died, ungloriously, to preserve our freedom that we often take for granted, a beautiful adaptation of the poem, In Flander’s Fields, by Colonel John McCrae set to music.