Five Months - Five Stepping Stones
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 11:41PM
Geraldine in Adam Booth, Ellie Shinham, Jane Dorfman, Maryland Storytelling Summiit, Michael Reno Harell, National Storytelling Festival, Noa Baum, Suzi Whaples, The Griots' Circle of Maryland, VASA, Virginia Storytelling Alliance, Walter Jones

Five is the number of grace – and I have been encircled with grace this year since the last time I wrote this blog at the beginning of March.

Looking back from Spring to now, when the world here in Frederick, Maryland is transitioning away from Summer, I see five events in the last five months that stand out.  They are like stepping stones among the delicious swirl of storytelling happenings such as performances, festivals, swaps, school and library visits and teaching at an arts-integrated middle-school summer camp, that have swept me in a whirl of words to the brink of fall.

In March, while attending the Virginia Storytelling Alliance (VASA)’s conference - The Gathering - to do an evening concert with Michael Reno Harrell and Ralph Chatham – I was voted on to the VASA board.  I am delighted to have been asked to serve this wonderful grass-roots storytelling  organization that stretches from the mountains to the sea.  My first board meeting will be in October ‘11.  Wonderful times with like-minded story lovers lie ahead!

Below:  Michael Reno Harrell, Geraldine Buckley and Ralph Chatham
(Photograph Courtesy of Irma Rockwell)

In April I danced all around the kitchen in utter delight after I was asked by Susan O’Connor of the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough Tennessee to be an Exchange Place Teller – which is an incredible honor.  Six people are selected each year from the whole of the nation to tell a twelve minute tale in front of 1,500 story lovers during this most prestigious of all US festivals.  I will be joined by my friend Storyteller Adam Booth who tells a riveting tall tale!

In May I had the most delightful time in Dunbar, West Virginia, home of my good friend National Storyteller Suzi Whaples who absolutely spoiled me over my birthday weekend which culminated in the two of us doing a joint house concert for her story loving, highly appreciative friends.

Suzi is rightfully proud of her state, and her heritage as a child of the Appalachian Mountains and coal fields.  During my visit she gave me a crash course in understanding West Virginian ways and words while driving me through the “hollas” and passes of her beautiful state.  I always loved her stories, many of which are told through the eyes of her granny or her great aunt – but I had a new understanding of their depth after seeing the places on the land where Suzi's relatives lived and loved and survived. 

June’s stepping stone was the first annual Maryland Storytelling Summit spearheaded by Storyteller Ellie Shinham.  During this fabulous day - filled with fascinating workshops, round table dicussions, tales and laughter - different streams of storytelling, such as the Griots' Circle of Maryland and Arianna Ross’s innovative Story Tapestries,  came together to share ideas.  Many of the groups had not heard of each other before and new, strong bonds were formed.

I was delighted to have been selected to be one of the tellers for the evening concert together with Storytellers  Noa Baum, Bob Smith, Walter Jones and Jane Dorfman.  We were a diverse group of tellers and yet we were told we blended into a seamless whole.  Storytelling magic!

July brought the Capital Fringe Festival.  I performed my storytelling show “Destination?  Slammer!” at the prestigious Goethe Institut steps from China Town in Washington DC. A fringe audience is very different from a usual storytelling audience in that a fringe goer is often looking for theatre (not telling) that is edgy, avant-garde and risqué.   Nevertheless I received excellent reviews from the Washington City Paper, the DC Theatre Scene and the Maryland Theatre Guide – and many lovely conversations with appreciative audience members at the end of each show.  Bless them every one!

Five stepping stones in a five month period filled with grace and stories.

I love the life of an itinerant storyteller, speaker and teaching artist. 

Long may the grace continue!

Article originally appeared on Geraldine Buckley (
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