by Greg Wright Diane Ferlatte, the National Storytelling Networkâ€™s Circle of Excellence Award winner, will be a featured â€œtellerâ€ at this yearâ€™s PowellsWood Storytelling Festival. The first day of the festival, which runs July 18-19 this year at PowellsWood in Federal Way, storytellers engage registered attendees with workshops designed to turn everyday people into tellers of their own stories. The second day, itâ€™s all telling, all the time at key locations throughout the 3-acre garden. This yearâ€™s tellers include Donald Davis, Angela Lloyd, Barbara McBride-Smith, Ed Stivenderâ€”and Diane Ferlatte. I had the opportunity to chat the other day with Ferlatte, fresh from her appearance at the Sydney International Storytelling Conference in Australia. I understand you were raised in Louisiana. Thatâ€™s ripe storytelling country. Were you born there? [caption id="attachment_75429" align="alignright" width="250"] Grammy-nominted storyteller Diane Ferlatte is featured at the PowellsWood Storytelling Festival this year[/caption] Diane Ferlatte: I was born in New Orleans and migrated with my parents and two brothers to Oakland, CA when I was nine years old. Can you recall the first time you were captivated by oral storytelling? DF: We used to joke that my father had a motor mouth. Both he and my grandparents could really spin yarns on the porch in Louisiana, but I was too young to really appreciate it at the time. When did you become inspired to start telling stories yourself? DF: After we adopted our second child, I discovered that he was a TV brain. I had been reading stories to his younger sister but he wasnâ€™t interested. I had to find a way to get him to sit and listen instead of watching TV. So I not only read in a more dramatic way but soon began to tell stories instead of just reading to them. When I was asked to tell stories at a church function, I was hooked. The first professional teller who had a big impact on me was Jackie Torrence. You spent some time in Georgiaâ€™s Sea Islands collecting stories. How did that come about? DF: I was interested in the Gullah culture and wanted to collect some of their folktales. Problem was, on Sapelo Islandâ€™s Hog Hammock community which I visited, the primary storyteller was long in the tooth and couldnâ€™t remember much. So I interviewed and spent time with many of the remaining inhabitants left in that small community whose families had been there for generations since slavery. As a consequence, I developed a show around their various personal stories. Do stories generally come to you, or do you search them out? DF: Some stories come to me through personal experiences or through friends, but I do research on historical stories and folktales. Your scheduled workshop at the PowellsWood Festival this year is titled, â€œBringing Stories to Life.â€ Why is it important for everyday people to learn how to â€œtell their story,â€ as opposed to simply passing along facts about who they are? DF: It is first and foremost important that we talk with one another. Passing along facts is better than nothing, but when we share stories we get a much clearer and meaningful idea of each other. We also are able to relate in a more emotional way to the other person through their stories. In addition, stories are just more interesting. So is it about more than just leaving a legacy of sorts? Is it also about the â€œhowâ€ of living out our own stories, day by day? DF: Sometimes we think there isnâ€™t anything interesting about us that we can share, but we all are interesting in different ways, and we all have stories to share. I hope your experience at PowellsWood this year gives you more stories to tell! DF: I hope so too, and thank you very much. For complete Festival schedule information, visit powellswoodfestival.com PowellsWood: A Northwest Garden 430 South Dash Point Road Price $15 and up; childrenâ€™s and family rates available Online Ticketing at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/531089]]>
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