February 25, 2011 | Theo Voss

Alicia Sheppard tells the anti-love story.

The Storytelling Guild met last week in the Fish House to tell, and to listen to, love stories (though all kinds of stories were welcome). One student told an anti-love story, inspired by the poem “The Lady of Shallot” by Alfred Lord Tennyson. Others told folklore stories about hunting, pigs and the wind.

As the meeting got started, passers-by sat down to enjoy a story or two. One of them said, “I really like hearing stories.”

Another said, “You just kind of lose track of where you are.”

The Club

The Storytelling Guild was created last year by students of education professor Johanna Kuyvenhoven’s interim class “Introduction to Storytelling.” The club meets once a month to share stories that can range from fantastical folklore to real-life experiences.

 “Being part of storytelling experience has an addictive quality,” said Kuyvenhoven, also the faculty advisor for the club. “You discover something that you can’t find anywhere else, which is sitting shoulder to shoulder, the story coming through a human voice ... It’s an astonishing experience.”

One student, who is starting to attend the club, was amazed by the power of stories: on this occasion the story of the proud hunter who chased a rabbit into a rabbit hole, became a rabbit, and got shot. “When you hear that story, you see that you shouldn’t be proud. If you would tell somebody, ‘Oh, you shouldn’t be proud,’ they could become defensive,” she said.

Kuyvenhoven says “Anytime we tell a story we talk about something that matters and we puzzle over our lives and try to find meaning.”  

Reading ban

One rule of the club is that stories must be told and not read. Senior Heather Bartlam, the current president of the club, banned the reading of stories after a meeting last semester where people just got up and left when a member read. “I never knew it had that much of an impact,” she said.

For the next Storytelling Guild event, Bartlam is planning a biblical storytelling, and seminary students and alumni will be invited to participate. Preaching, as well as reading, will be banned.

A student tells a tale.

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