Here are a few of the many storytellers who have inspired me.
Jan Blake (UK)
To hear Jan Blake tell a story is to enter into a world of heights and depths where even a single blade of grass can lead you into the underworld your hard-earned rationality almost convinced you to forget. Specializing in stories from Africa, the Caribbean, and Saudi Arabia, she has brought her tough and generous storytelling to international audiences for more than twenty-five years. Her show "The Old Woman, the Buffalo, and the Lion of Manding" toured to wide acclaim and was awarded the British Award for Storytelling Excellence in 2013. www.JanBlake.com
Ben Haggarty (UK)
Internationally acclaimed storyteller Ben Haggarty has been at the center of the English storytelling revival for nearly forty years. Through both his own storytelling as well as the legendary Crick Crack Club--an organization he founded--he has been instrumental in re-envisioning storytelling as a contemporary performance art. A fierce and generous teacher with a deep training in both theater and mime, he brings a vivid physical presence to every story he tells in a way that leaves listeners transformed and newly awake to the possibilities alive in the spoken word.
Martín Prechtel (New Mexico, USA)
Though much more than a storyteller, Martin Prechtel has an awareness of story's capacity to connect us with the earth and the sacred that is as deep as any who go by that name. Raised on the Pueblo Indian reservation in New Mexico, he later found his way to the Guatemalan village of Santiago Atitlan where the village's most revered shaman--after upbraiding him for his lateness--immediately pressed him into service as his assistant. After serving that village for fifteen years he returned to New Mexico to found the wild school known as Bolad's Kitchen. To hear him tell a story is to find in the wildness of our own hearts a forgotten way for us to be truly at home on this earth. www.floweringmountain.com.
Martin Shaw (Devon, UK)
"The earth thinks in myth," Martin Shaw has written, and few have labored as hard to connect with those myths or been as willing to change their lives in response to their wild voices. Martin came to story after years spent living in a tent on the moors of Devon, and since that time has brought his fierce and beautiful sense of story to audiences through books, recordings, and internationally acclaimed performances. He has been called "A conjuror, a troubadour dropped in our midst."
Photo: Kent MIles
Laura Simms (USA)
A performer, author and teacher with a deep awareness of the healing power of story, Laura Simms has brought the transformational magic of storytelling to audiences around the world for more than fifty years. Called "a major source of the revival of storytelling in America" by the New York Times, her work brings poetic narrative, the oral tradition, and contemporary performance art together into a creation that testifies to the boundless potential of story to transform our lives. www.LauraSimms.com
Gioia Timpanelli (USA)
An international performer with the power to deeply inhabit the stories she tells, Gioia Timpanelli has spent many years at the center of the American storytelling revival. An author as well as a storyteller, she has won two Emmy Awards (Citations of Merit) for her work and has performed worldwide while also bringing story to audiences through television, radio, and the written word. The poet Gary Snyder has praised her ability to "draw out the very depths of the power of myths, to take literature back to its sources before your eyes and ears." www.GioiaTimpanelli.com