Archive for captivate

Tellers.

Posted in Of Stories And Their Telling with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 26, 2010 by elisabethefuasutherland

Today I was wandering around an antiques shop in downtown Greencastle, when I met a guy who calls himself Rocky. He’s not from here, he doesn’t like it much, he’s from Indianapolis and he wants to move down to a town in Florida, but his ex-wife moved there before he could. Anyway, that’s not my tale to tell. What was interesting about Rocky is that he started to talk about stories.

He had a couple, he apologized for keeping me so long with old people stories, but I said, “No, old people have the best stories” ( I was proud of that one, came up with it on the spot too), and so he told me. He told me about Eddie and his friend who were in the Royal Canadian Air Force together, and how he tried to convince them to write a book. They thought no one would be interested, and so he told them about a book he was reading, about an ex-serviceman who was in the Air Force but couldn’t fly a plane because his eyes were no good (he was a navigator). He branched off about the book a bit ( “so this guy, right? Was raised by an Indian woman in the desert, and when he’s a young lad she takes him out and she says you see this? This is buffalo turd, and this? This is coyote poop, and this? This is donkey s***. So I grew up knowing my s***”), but he says, these two guys, Eddie and his friend, they never did write that book. And that story’s gone. Then he gets really philosophical and starts talking about telling your own story: “then it’s like an autobiography and you expound on certain things, and we don’t get an objective picture. I mean, who’s gonna talk bad about themselves?”

I see Rocky’s point here, but it took me back to my previous post and my concerns about having someone tell your story for you. I think that having several points of view is important in order to get a rounded view of a situation, also, one cannot take the opinions of outsiders to be hard, cold truth. In a sense, we need people to tell their own stories, or as Rocky put it, the story is gone when they die.

On a slightly different note, I wanted to talk about the people we pick to tell stories, especially in the theater. It is easy to make people who are less than stellar performers appear decent on screen, since there is so much new technology that allows one to edit and cut and insert film as needed. In theater, you need people with magic in their voices, people who are nothing short of captivating. Have you ever heard poetry being read, not by the overdramatic, sporadic ‘poets’ of today, but by someone with a deep, rich voice, with careful enunciation, someone like Maya Angelou?

Listen to this reading by Nobel Laureate Rita Dove http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCiinhPzxXc

Then to a reading by some of the self-proclaimed spoken word artists. There are a gifted few who are good at this, but many people who attempt this genre end up sounding more like today’s rap scene than anything else: an excess of rhyming words bundled together, and I know people are embracing new art forms, but I do believe that poetry requires much more careful composition and execution than the latter. Any sort of writing should strive to achieve more than just rhymes at the end of each line, or multiple rhymes in a sentence. I could say “bananas, havanas, cabanas” off the top of my head but that doesn’t mean anything unless I insinuate a meaning around it with careful diction.

It is my dream that we will tell our own stories and we will weave captivating, enlightening tales from them.