August 14, 2021
Both Joseph Bruchac and Lyn Ford, long-time storytellers, writers, and people of place, embody how essential it is to tell our own truest stories, and in doing so, invite all voices to the table, especially those historically silenced or ignored. “If you don’t tell your story, someone else will tell it for you,” Joe said, and Lyn echoed in their interviews with me.
Telling our truest stories – the stories that name and claim who we are – is about representation but also transformation, healing, and liberation. “Story is one of the best vehicle for recovery, regaining balance, and for understanding who you are and where you are,” Joe told me.
Lyn and Joe tell and live stories rooted in place. Lyn is a 4th generation Affrilachian storyteller, an African-American Appalachian woman who also has native American heritage. Joe, an Abenaki citizen and elder, lives in the same house where he was raised by his maternal grandparents in upstate New York. Reflecting on how home and heritage informs her work, Lyn says, “It’s the language of the people, the memories of the places, and the heart that still connects me to the region where I was born. All of that integrates into who I am and how I share myself with others.”
Joseph Bruchac, a poet and storyteller, explores his Abenaki ancestry and Native American storytelling traditions in his work, writing, and life. A long-time scholar, who earned his PhD in comparative literature from Union Institute, Joe is a beloved storyteller and a prolific author of more than 170 books for adults and children. His publications include Tell Me a Tale: A Book About Storytelling and Keepers of the Earth (co-authored with Michael Caduto). He’s performed as a storyteller and musician around the world and has garnered honors from the Rockefeller Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers. Founder of Greenfield Review Literary Center and Greenfield Review Press, he lives in Greenfield Center with his wife Nicola, both of them licensed wildlife rehabilitators who help out animals from bobcats to porcupines.
Lyn Ford is a nationally recognized Affilachian storyteller, a teaching artist with the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education, and a Thurber House mentor. Her writing has been widely published in storytelling magazines, teachers’ enrichment books, anthologies, and collaborative projects. Her many books include Affrilachian Tales and Beyond the Briar Patch, and with Sherry Norfolk, she edited Supporting Diversity and Inclusion with Story and Speak Peace. She performs and gives keynote presentations around the country, telling stories to adults and children that illuminate hard-won truths and magical understandings. She’s also an award-winning recording artist as well as a Laughter Yoga Teacher and breath mechanic. She describes herself additionally as “a happy partner-in-life, mama, grandmama, great-grandmama, and good cook!”
Special thanks to Kelley Hunt for the use of her music from our co-written song, “The Road is a River,” and thanks to Dianna Burrup for the logo design. See more on this podcast at my website.
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