Friday, January 12, 2007

Poetry Friday: The Art of Storytelling

We've been having lots of fun with storytelling in my classroom, thanks to the game, Pitch a Story. In this game, each player or team begins with a card from the character deck, and a card from the challenges deck. (The core of every story: someone wants something.) As you move your piece around the board, you might pick up props, settings, or other characters that you'll have to incorporate into your story. When you land on a "pitch place," you get a minute or two to plan your story based on the cards you're holding, and then you "pitch" your story in much the same way that "Writers, producers and directors "pitch" their story ideas as punchy, pithy presentations to Hollywood film studios, TV networks, Broadway theaters, and book publishers."

How perfect that Garrison Keillor has a storytelling poem for today's poem on The Writer's Almanac!

The Art of Storytelling
by Louis Simpson

Once upon a time there was a shocket,
that is, a kosher butcher,
who went for a walk.

He was standing by the harbor
admiring the ships, all painted white,
when up came three sailors, led by an officer.
"Filth," they said, "who gave you permission?"
and they seized and carried him off.

So he was taken into the navy.
It wasn't a bad life — nothing is.
He learned how to climb and sew,
and to shout "Glad to be of service, Your Excellency!"
He sailed all round the world,
Was twice shipwrecked, and had other adventures.
Finally, he made his way back to the village ...
whereupon he put on his apron, and picked up his knife,
and continued to be a shocket.

At this point, the person telling the story
would say, "This shocket-sailor
was one of our relatives, a distant cousin."

It was always so, they knew they could depend on it.
Even if the story made no sense,
the one in the story would be a relative —
a definite connection with the family.


  1. Anonymous9:14 AM

    There's a great Mary Oliver poem that ends "over and over, announcing your place in the family of things."
    Connection is everything, isn't it?

  2. Anonymous10:58 AM

    FYI: Kelly is doing the Poetry Friday roundup at Big A little a this week.


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