Tag Archives: Difficult Story

The Flounder Watches Whales

by Loren Niemi – June 16, 2022

The Flounder/founder (Loren Niemi) of the American School of Storytelling just returned from the Storytellers of Canada National Conference where he taught a “Difficult Stories” Master Class with Elizabeth Ellis, a three-hour “Double Helix: Plot and Voice” workshop and was ¼ of the Saturday night concert. It was all good. The Tigh-Na-Mara resort in Parksville, BC was scenic and the folks attending the conference were excited to be able to be in the same room with their storytelling ilk again. 

One of the conversations he had was about the importance of Storytelling Toronto in creating and sustaining the community of tellers. Loren had first encountered it in 1980 when visiting Joan Bodger and Dan Yashinsky. In those days it was two second floor rooms where Alice Kane was teaching an introduction to traditional storytelling class and 1001 Storytelling Nights performances. It is still offering classes, albeit in a more accessible location. It is also producing the Toronto Storytelling Festival and a variety of other story and community related projects. And the truth be told, Storytelling Toronto’s 40 plus years of promoting the narrative arts  is a model for the American School.

What about the whales you ask? The Master Class was on Wednesday and the conference officially began Thursday night, so on Thursday afternoon, Loren, Elizabeth and Noa Baum were treated to a three-hour whale watching excursion that spotted 17 Orcas in three pods, Sea Lions and Harbor Seals (the Orca’s favorite meal). Here’s a good pic of the three of us on the boat and a not so good (close) pic of Orca fins in the water.

Telling Difficult Stories

by Loren Niemi – June 30, 2021

John Barth (an author not much read outside of Academic enclaves these days) said: “The story of your life is not your life; it’s your story.”

I am in agreement with him on that point. The stories of my life are usually more interesting, and perhaps more meaningful, than the life that gave rise to them. I can tell over 400 stories about my life from age 5 through last week. Each of them is a mix of memory, emotion, fact and (for the sake of honesty) craft, that makes the story as Elizabeth Ellis and I often say in the Difficult Stories workshop: “truthful and artful.”

But let me elaborate on this point in relation to difficult stories in general and the Difficult Stories workshop in particular.

Continue reading