by Denise Miller

What’s Your Story?

Circa 2005 at a local cafe that specialized in live music in Edmonton, I first discovered The StorySlam. I was told it was a clone of Poetry Slams popular in New York. I was hooked and attended the monthly events every chance I got. Authors and storytellers with varying skills would sign up and get 5 minutes to read or tell their original story. The Slam grew in popularity to the point where there was no room inside and in the summer, folks would listen through the windows. A solo guest would be guided to the Lonely-Hearts table because they couldn’t spare a table for just one.

Each story was scored out of 10 by volunteer judges. A hat was passed during the intermission and at the end. The audience showed their appreciation of great stories. Winners often took home a few hundred. For many emerging authors and spoken word artists it was a great prize. Their stories carried us away. We had a couple of retired ministers and being great speakers with amazing life (and death) experiences, they were always popular. There were family stories both hilarious and shocking. There were riveting stories of war and other worldwide experiences.  A friend of mine told a story of a fictitious town and an amazing thing that had happened there. He was so believable that I heard a listener at the next table say they had heard of that town and the event in the news!

I loved hearing the stories of nervous first timers. How they had written and rewritten their story inspired by someone’s bravery the month before. It was great to hear the buzz when a favourite would walk in the door. Probably the first time they had fans! We’d all be hoping they had arrived in time – only the first 10 to sign up and pay $5 would be heard.

Here in Peachland there’s a different way we tell stories. Someone will sit beside me on a park bench and after chatting for a few minutes we’re exchanging our favourite stories. Someone will start to talk as we stand on the bridge over the creek and soon, I’m hearing amazing fishing stories. I know there are so many great stories here in my town that I’m missing!

I was promoting the idea of the story slam at the craft show of the Mural Festival. I gathered a list of folks interested in learning more. So, let’s create a place to share our stories, to inspire storytellers, authors, and spoken word artists by our appreciation. Let’s grow it to be our own style of story slam. The Okanagan Folk School is offering this opportunity, right here at the community centre. We’ll start out simple as see how it goes.

I can’t wait to hear your stories!