Showing posts with label storytelling. Show all posts
Showing posts with label storytelling. Show all posts

Friday, September 9, 2016

New and upcoming story collections to keep an eye on

Hi All! Your resident storyteller and folktale blogger here. Since not many news sources bother with updating you on upcoming folk- and fairy tale collections, here are a few delicious new books to keep an eye out for if you (or your friends) love tales, legends, and mythology:

The Power of a Tale: Stories from the Israel Folktale Archives
A collection of 53 folktales celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Israel Folktale Archives at the University of Haifa. The stories represent 26 ethnic groups from Israel, 22 of them Jewish:  "The narrators of the stories come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds and education levels. They include both men and women of various ages who worked in diverse fields. Some were long settled in Israel while others were recent arrivals when their stories were collected and transcribed. They all shared one conspicuous quality-their talent as storytellers. The stories they tell encompass a myriad of genres and themes, including mythical tales, historical legends, sacred legends, demon legends, realistic legends, märchen of various sorts, novellas, jokes and anecdotes, and personal narratives."

The book looks like a very promising collection, and a great example of diversity in the oral tradition. 

Tales of the Narts: Ancient Myths and Legends of the Ossetians
The first English edition of the Ossetian Nart corpus (published this summer), this book is full of amazing stories. The Narts are a group of legendary heroes and warriors that go on epic adventures, fight mythical monsters, and live their lives with courage, passion, and a great deal of curiosity. There has been a theory recently that the Nart sagas have been responsible for the beginnings of Arthurian legends, and while the theory is questionable for multiple reasons, they definitely have all the makings of awesome hero stories.
(I will be doing a performance of these tales in California in October, and I love working with them!)

Nart Sagas: Ancient Myths and Legends of the Circassians and Abkhazians
The second edition of this volume is now available, after a long hiatus. Like the stories in the book above, these are also tales of the Nart heroes, collected from the traditions of different Caucasian ethnic groups. Published with ample commentary, footnotes, linguistic appendices, and everything else you always wanted to know about Caucasian mythology but never thought to ask.

George Macpherson: The Old Grey Magician
One of Scotland's most famous living storytellers, George Macpherson has once again created a truly amazing book: He tracks one mysterious figure, the Grey Magician, across time and space, from legend to legend, from tale to tale, trying to find out who he is, what he wants, and how he affects events in some of the most famous Celtic traditions, such as the Fionn Cycle. If you are interested in Scottish lore or Celtic myth at all, this one is a must-read.

Happy reading to all the folklore-lovers out there!

Friday, April 22, 2016

What's your #atozchallenge Story?

Hi, friendly neighborhood storyteller here.

What's your story?

The A to Z challenge is one place where it is okay to make things personal. Chances are, if you did the Theme Reveal, you told us why you picked the theme you are doing. But even if you don't have a theme, you can still have a story.

Why do you blog?
What got you started?
What are the things that you are passionate about?
What are the stories you want to share with the rest of the world?

One place to tell your story will be during the A to Z Reflections in May. Tell us about your journey! The successes, the challenges, the encounters. Things you learned, things you enjoyed, treasures you found. Reflections help us look back on a crazy, hectic, chaotic, scrambling April (or is that just me?...) and see the story we have just been through. And say WOW.
(Or something like "wait... did I really just do that?...)

Find your Story!

Monday, February 15, 2016

#atozchallenge -- Meet your co-host: Csenge


My name is Csenge, I am your friendly neighborhood Hungarian co-host. This is my second year co-hosting, and my 5th year in the Challenge! It has been constant fun, and I am looking forward to yet another great year.

About me: 
I am a professional storyteller and author, currently working on my PhD in Culture Studies (my area of research is storytelling in role-playing games). Most of what I do revolves around epics, mythology, folktales, fairy tales, books, and RPGs. Usually in some combination of those. I am also a game- and comic book nerd, and I watch more TV shows than I care to admit. 
To my defense: I am minoring in Pop Culture Studies.

Blogs and things:

Here I write about storytelling-related things. Past Challenge themes include Epics A to Z, Weird Princesses, and Tales about Colors. 

Exactly what it sounds like: My musings on weird and unique Hungarian things. Last year's theme was "26 Ways to Die in Medieval Hungary."

Book: Tales of Superhuman Powers (55 myths, legends and folktales that featured superpowers way before comic books came along - stories with notes, sources, and pop culture references) 

Oh, and I have an Old English Sheepdog. I thought that was important.
Sometimes I crochet mythical animals. 

I am looking forward to visiting with all of you in April! :)

Monday, December 7, 2015

Christmas stories to discover

Had enough of The Gift of the Magi for a lifetime, and always found The Fir Tree and The Little Match Girl sort of depressing? (Our teacher used to read them to us every Christmas in class, and I don't think I'll ever recover from it)
Here is a list of books you can explore for funny, heartwarming, less well-known, and lovable Christmas tales - most of them traditional.

Midwinter Folk Tales
Written by legendary storyteller Taffy Thomas, published in 2015. A collection full of winter tales from Taffy's own repertoire - free to tell for anyone who takes a fancy to them. He does not only include the best of his stories for the season; he also tells little anecdotes about how each story came into his possession, and what hidden importance they might have. It is an entertaining, lovely collection, written in Taffy's original voice and sense of humor.

Joy to the World: Christmas stories from around the globe
Okay, so not a recent edition, but one of my newly discovered favorites. Beautifully illustrated book, with well selected stories. I am including it with an extra recommendation because it features one of my favorite Christmas legends, the story of the Little Camel from Syria. In Syria, children who celebrate Christmas believe that their gifts are brought by the little camel that traveled with the Three Wise Men. It's one of the cutest stories ever.

Tell Me a Story for Christmas: Traveller Tales
A seasonal collection by another legendary storyteller, Scottish Traveller Duncan Williamson. Once again, not a recent edition, but many copies are still available from online stores and libraries. I highly recommend reading other books from Duncan Williamson as well; he is a huge name in the storytelling world, and did incredible work to preserve the oral traditions he grew up with.

The Other Wise Man 
Okay, so this is a more well known one, but also one of my favorites, so I will include it, in case it's new for some people. Written by Henry van Dyke in 1895, it is an original Christmas tale about Artaban, the fourth Wise Man that somehow got left behind. I love telling this story, and audiences respond to it really well. Also, there is a famous sapphire named after it. In case you like shiny things like I do.

May your days be merry, and full of books!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

5 tips for authors who work with folktales

Fairy tale adaptations are all the rage these days. Some of them are stellar, some of them are decent, and some of them are... boring, I guess. But whatever the case, here is something that not many people talk about: Adapting fairy tales (especially if they are also folktales - not all of them are!) is a tricky issue. Many people just automatically assume that folktales are in the public domain - therefore there is no copyright to consider, or intellectual property to tread on. However, when working with traditional stories - especially if they are from a culture other than your own - is a lot more complicated than it sounds.

Here are 5 tips to keep in mind if you work with fairy tales:

Make sure it is actually a folktale 
Not all fairy tales are folklore. Some of them are literary. These might look like a folktale, but they still fall under copyright and intellectual property rules. This becomes especially tricky when some authors write "fakelore" - publish their own work under the title "folktale" (or, ironically, "original folktale"). In other cases they might publish folktales that are real, but publish them in their own version, re-written, re-told or adapted.
This is not only important because you might get in trouble for copyright infringement. You might also be unwittingly propagating false information on the traditions and culture of a certain group of people.
How to avoid: It is useful to look for the same story in other sources. Sometimes you have to approach the author to ask. Good thing we have social media.

Check on a culture's actual stories before you make up new ones
Attributing a fake "folktale" or "legend" to a foreign culture is a huge literary faux pas - especially in the case of indigenous and marginalized groups. This was one of the main problems people brought up about the Twilight series - the author took an indigenous nation, and made up legends that don't actually exist in their tradition. Since most people had never heard about the Quileute before the books/movies came out, they automatically believed that those stories were real "Indian folklore."
How to avoid: If you are featuring an existing culture in your work, do your homework. Go the extra mile. Read their stories. Maybe you'll find more useful things than you thought.

With that said...

Make sure you are not committing cultural appropriation
Not all folktales are up for grabs. They might not be protected by copyright law, but that doesn't mean you are not being offensive, inconsiderate, or hurtful towards the community that claims them and keeps them alive. Don't assume that finding an indigenous folktale in a written collection automatically means they wanted it to be out there.
How to avoid: Be respectful. Educate yourself about cultural appropriation. Ask.

Make sure you are not promoting stereotypes
Even if certain folktales are okay to use and adapt - make sure you are using them the right way. Selecting certain stories to represent certain cultures (especially if those cultures are not generally well known) puts you in danger of upholding a Single Story.
How to avoid: Read more stories from the same tradition. See if you can present a more diverse picture.

Note your sources
This is more of a courtesy than a necessity: I personally love reading about the original sources of folktales and fairy tales people use. I will be eternally grateful if you note them in your Introduction, or Afterwords, or... wherever. In addition, if you are working with less well known tales from other cultural groups, is is courteous to point people in the direction of your sources, in case they want to find out more, and educate themselves about the oral traditions of the world.

Do you like fairy tale adaptations? Do you write them? Let me know what you think!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Five Fairy Tale Blogs to Follow

Do you like fairy tales?
Do you like blogs?
Do you ever wonder how fairy- and folktales can be combined with the blogging sphere and made intriguing to regular readers?

In honor of our ever-expanding Mythology and Storytelling categories during A to Z, as well as all the people who blog about fairy- and folktale-related topics in April (and all through the year), here is a list of 5 fairy tale blogs to keep an eye on!

Breezes from Wonderland
Maria Tatar's forum on Storytelling, Folklore, and Children's Literature. For those of you who don't know who this amazing lady is: She is the chair of the Folklore and Mythology program at Harvard. If you are interested in fairy tales at all, you have probably seen her work. If not, here is your chance!

The SurLaLune Fairy Tales Blog
Once again, if you are online and you like fairy tales, this is a place you probably are (or should be) familiar with. The blog is a great and up-to-date source of book reviews, fairy tale-related news, and... stories, obviously.

Once Upon a Blog
The Fairy Tale News Blog is exactly what it sounds like: It brings you the latest hot news items about age-old stories, be it about books, movies, TV shows, or other pop culture events. Regularly updated and full of interesting stuff at the crossroads of fairy tales and modern media.

Storytelling + Research = LoiS
Professional storyteller and story researcher Lois Sprengnether Keel shares her experiences and her work. The best part of the blog is Keeping the Public in the Public Domain - she regularly posts folk- and fairy tales that are in the public domain, making them readily available to everyone.

Fairy Tale Fandom
Adam Hoffman's regularly updated and amazingly organized blog on fairy tale-related topics: Actual stories, book reviews, media news, etc. Well thought-out posts, and a whole treasure trove of new things to be a fan of.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Storyteller's Perspective: On tradition, selective memory, and #NotAllFolktales

Most of you are probably familiar with the #YesAllWomen hashtag that took Twitter by storm and created a flood of articles, analyses and arguments all over the Internet. It was a spontaneous, online social movement raising awareness of everyday sexism, misogyny, violence against women, gender bias, and some cultural roots associated with all of the above.
In the middle of all of that, following the real-time roll of tweets, blog posts and articles, there I was, as a professional storyteller, wondering what I had to contribute. Of course I have my own personal stories as a woman (#yesallwomen have those), but there was something else, something that has to do with the stories we tell...
... or, rather, WHICH stories we tell.

I once had a serious fight with a faceless man who claimed that I was "against tradition" when I expressed my opinion that folktales that end with "and the man beat his wife, and she learned her lesson, and they lived happily ever after" should not be told anymore. He said I was trying to destroy the culture of our ancestors. I told him that if domestic abuse was the "culture of our ancestors," I am willing to let go of it.
But it's not.

I started tweeting under #NotAllFolktales, posting excerpts and tidbits from traditional stories (myth, legend and folktale) that prove that not every traditional tale is biased against women, or holds the dangerous cultural values that lead to misogyny. I did it for two reasons:

1. A lot of the backlash against #YesAllWomen brought up excuses like "but it's natural" "but it's traditional" and "but it's always been like that." They threw out shards of fairy tales about princesses on both sides. Most people completely disregarded one simple fact: Fairy tales and folktales are not biased because "it's natural." They are biased because they are a product of culture. Four hundred years ago Sleeping Beauty was raped in her sleep, instead of kissed awake. Try telling it that way nowadays, see what happens.

2. People who cry #NotAllFolktales (just like people who cry #NotAllMen, or #NotAllWhitePeople, or any of those backlash hashtags) have the responsibility to change the group they want to set themselves apart from. Storytellers who know that there are stories out there that are not sexist, racist, homophobic, etc. have the responsibility to tell them, understand them, and make them available.

See, my point is: Stories that promote diversity, equality, freedom of expression and choice are all ALREADY OUT THERE. We don't even have to make them up. We don't even have to write "feminist fairy tales" (although if we want to, we can, and they are amazing). Stories have been out there for millennia. We just need to find them (often cleverly hidden or left out of collections and publications), revive them, and tell them, tell them, tell them.

Case in point: I did my second A to Z challenge run about Weird Princesses - folktales and legends that involve female heroes who are not only brave and clever, but also quirky and unique and lovable (or, in Internet speak: anything but Mary Sue). There are hundreds of them, and guess what, boys love them as much as girls. I also frequently tell the story of Dame Ragnell that teaches kids about respect for women, and works splendidly with all ages from kindergarten to high school.
I recently (after the backlash against the Bearded Diva winning the Eurovision) posted a collection of folktales and myths about trans heroes and heroines, as an answer to people railing "young people nowadays don't know what gender they want to be..." It was surprisingly easy to find a whole bunch of folktales from every corner or the world. Heck, I even found a Hungarian folktale about a princess going "men's clothes have always fit me better" (in the end she transforms into a man and marries another princess).

The world of folktales is endless, and stretches way beyond "young male hero saves beautiful princess." There is a story about everything. There are folktales about pregnant women saving the world. There are folktales about old people falling in love. There are folktales about kind stepmothers, loving fathers, homely princesses, divorce, same-sex love and marriage, culture clash and acceptance, and a million other things that are still important in our world.

Find them. Read them. Think about them. Tell them.

As usual, you can find Csenge at:
The Multicolored Diary - Adventures in Storytelling
MopDog - The crazy thing about Hungarians...

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The one-stop shop for all your Trickster needs!

It is the 3rd Wednesday of the month already, and as promised, the Storytelling Series continues. With Tricksters!
Tricksters are all the rage these days. They are unkillable, unforgettable, and we can't help but love them. From an author's point of view, they are extremely hard to write, and even harder to write well. But when they are done the way they should be, they. Rock. The. World.
I have recently posted on my blog StorySpotting about Tricksters done right in contemporary movies and TV shows - you can find the list here. Today, for inspiration, I'll introduce you to some of the stars in traditional Tricksterdom. They are the storyteller's best friend; there is no audience, however old, young, tired, unwilling, or hopped up on candy, that does not love a good Trickster tale. They saved my bacon countless times, on and off the stage.
Let's see some of the big guns:

The Spider. Originally from West Africa (Akan and Ashante folklore), he made his way over to the Caribbean and the Americas. According to legend, owns all the stories in the world. Constantly hungry, not above stealing and cheating, endowed with serious balls. The latter is not a metaphor. Married to Aso, who is pretty much the only person who can out-smart him. Find stories here. Also, check out Neil Gaiman's The Anansi Boys.

Sun Wukong
Better known in English as the Monkey King; the undisputed main hero of the Chinese epic Journey to the West. Immortal, invulnerable, invincible, still a monkey. Crossed his name out of the Book of Death, stole the Peaches of Immortality from Heaven, scared the stuffing out of the Dragon Kings. Deity of Blunt Force Trauma. Turned Buddhist. Stars in Chinese, Japanese and Western movies and TV shows. All. The freaking. Time.

Mouse Deer
Also known as Sang Kancil, the resident Trickster of Indonesia. Tiny, smart, thinks fast on his scrawny little feet. Strong contestant for the title of "weirdest creature" in Tricksterdom. But do not be fooled: Mouse Deer, in my experience, is the uncontested favorite of many audiences (including, surprisingly, teenagers).

Seriously, I'm not going to introduce Loki. Duh. Move along.

One of the greatest Tricksters in the Western hemisphere, Coyote pops up in several American Indian cultures. Unkillable, wily, foolish; known for stealing the fire, among many other things. The original inventor of "dancing with the stars." Find a lovely collection of Coyote tales here. Also, you want to read Christopher Moore's Coyote Blue.

Remember the little guy from Midsummer Night's Dream? Yep, that's a Trickster. Also known as Robin Goodfellow. Half human, half fae. Completely out of control.

The one and only. Hero of hundreds of Appalachian Jack tales, killer of giants, navigator of flying ships, climber of beanstalks, challenger of Death, ravager of other people's property. Young, cheeky, with serious attitude.

And then some...
Believe me, I can go on about Tricksters until someone duct tapes my mouth shut. Raven. Iktomi. Nanabush. Kitsune. Tanuki. Reynard the Fox. Ti Malice. Nasreddin Hodja. Every culture has one. Some of them have more. But if I listed all of them, where would be the fun of discovery?
Go forth, and find your Trickster.

As usual, you can find Csenge at her blogs:
The Multicolored Diary (Adventures in Storytelling)
MopDog - The crazy thing about Hungarians...
or on Twitter: @TarkabarkaHolgy
or you can buy her book, Tales of Superhuman Powers, which incidentally also features tricksters. Go figure.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

So... what exactly is a Storyteller?

Did you know that a total of ten professional storytellers participated in the A to Z Challenge this year? That's like, nine more than last year. I know, because I am one of them. Also, I compiled a list of their blogs so you can go and check them out for yourself.
The A to Z challenge is all about stories. Written stories. Musical stories. Old stories. New stories. Fantasy stories. Romantic stories. Stories in pictures. Histories. As people of the word, we are all too familiar with the idea of story.
So, what am I doing here exactly with a title like that?

Let me introduce myself first. I am your friendly neighborhood A to Z minion, one of the Seven Ladies of #TeamDamyanti. My name is Csenge, I am originally from Hungary, and I am a professional storyteller. I go to schools, libraries, festivals, museums and other interesting places, and I tell stories for a living. On stage. By heart. From memory. I travel around the world, I collect new tales wherever I go, and I bring them home to my audiences.
(Okay, so maybe I hoard them like a squirrel. So what? Squirrels are cute.)
 I mostly work with folktales, fairy tales, myths, legends and epics (lots of epics). I am crazy about old stories, long stories, heroes, adventures, and imaginary places. I also tell and translate a lot of Hungarian folktales into English for international audiences.
I decided to use my time in the A to Z spotlight to talk about some of these tales, what we can do with them as storytellers, and why they are important. I am going to post every 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month, and talk about a special topic within storytelling. Today's post was only meant to be an introduction, so without any further ado, I'll announce the next theme right now:

Ladies and Gentlemen, mark your calendars and check your blog feeds, because on Wednesday, May 21st, the A to Z Blog will be taken over by...
from all around the world.

In the meantime, if you are interested in stories, you can check out my latest book, Tales of Superhuman Powers. It is a collection of 55 folktales and legends with superpowers in them - everything from telekinesis to laser eye beams (yeah, really). It started out as a bet to see if I could find at least one traditional story for every superpower on my list. The book includes four categories (physical, mental, elemental, and transitional), and 61 individual powers. It was the most fun I have ever had with research (I mentioned some of the tales in my A to Z posts both this year and last year).
If you ever wanted to be the coolest person in a room full of teenagers, I strongly suggest take a look at some of these stories.

Also, feel free to visit either one of my two blogs:

The Multicolored Diary - Adventures in storytelling. This April I filled it with folktales and fairy tales about colors, from the Azure Lion to Zaffre and Alchemy.

MopDog - The crazy thing about Hungarians... On this blog I post weird and amusing things from Hungarian culture and history. This year's A to Z ran from the Aggressive Piglet all the way to Zanzibar music. Also, the blog features a lot of gifs about puli dogs. You have been warned.

You can follow me on Twitter under the handle @TarkabarkaHolgy