In this episode of Stories in the Valley Charles Kiernan interviews Tim Jennings and Leanne Ponder
Friday is the Story Fusion Festival at the Northampton County Community College. And our headliners are Jennings and Ponder. They are storytellers from Vermont, and I, for one, am looking very much to hearing from them. As a matter of fact I called them earlier today and asked them this question. What can our audience expect to hear on Saturday night when you are doing the vampire princes?
Jennings: Well we’ll be telling three stories. It’s a selection because the whole show can take a whole evening. But we’ll be telling three stories that is part of a show and an album that we came up with starting about a couple of years ago. The centerpiece of the show is a story from a book of Czechoslovakia stories, Czech stories actually. But it specifically is a Gypsy tale. She is not exactly what we think of a vampire now we feel stupid for not calling it the Gypsy soldier because it really is more about the soldier than it is about the vampire. It’s a bit sardonic; it’s Eastern European. They don’t really have a really high opinion of normal people. They certainly don’t have a very high opinion of the king or his daughter. And it ends very well. And the other stories that we will be telling is a Mexican German kind of story and there is a story, I believe, we will be telling you from India. They’re funny and they’re old and yet they have a lot of what seems to be contemporary content.
Kiernan: Mexican German?
Jennings: We learned the story—we got it from Joseph Stoble. He’d been teaching English as a Second Language in Chicago—worked with folk tales and there was a Mexican up there who had this story. The story plainly has something to do with Grim Scott Father Death, but it’s very Mexican. Germans moved to Mexico in large numbers at one point. It is recognizable as the Grimm tale and yet it has this strong Day of the Dead Quality to it.
Kiernan: Looking forward to hearing that one
Jennings: We’ve been doing this for about 30 years together, and we got together first just to get together. Then we added some music, and we’ll be bringing some music with us. We have a harp, a concertina, and a ukulele. And we’ll be doing some Irish and some American folk music. We definitely have kind of a vibe, and that is what brought is together. We both were artists. Leanne was a writer and a poet and I was a storyteller. We both met through the arts council. And we started playing music on the street. Leanne, as a recovering poet, thought that was really good and funny.
Ponder: And it was really pleasant. Chicago has a very fine mall. And to play the harp there… I actually started playing the harp because I watched someone else play a small harp and I saw the people passing by and they would start out with this very worried look on their face and they were shopping and remembered what they wanted, and all of a sudden their face would become calm and happy. And I thought boy if I could do that to somebody I would really like that. It turns out it was really a joy playing the harp and I never did a bit of writing after I got the harp.
Jennings: People listened to harp music while she was playing the music and then she started the harp and not typing anymore and I got a lot of grief from writers for that.
Kiernan: Thanks so much for talking to us. We are looking forward to seeing you live on stage.
The Lehigh Valley Storytelling Guild holds its Storytelling Circle at Godfrey Daniels at 7 East 4th Street in Bethlehem on the second Wednesdays of the month at 7:30 pm (except the month of August). Come and listen to stories or try out a story yourself. We are a friendly audience and the event is free.
That’s all for now, have fun and keep a story in your heart.
(Original air date: September 2014)