Selma storyteller kicks off weekend events

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 12, 2007

The Selma Times-Journal

Her grandchildren call her “Ghost.”

Renowned writer Kathryn Tucker Windham kicked off a weekend of storytelling at noon Thursday at the Selma-Dallas Public Library. Windham, who is known for her ghost stories, spoke at the weekly “Lunch at the Library” event.

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A resident of Selma, Windham discussed her recently re-released book, “Alabama, One Big Front Porch.”

Following a lunch of chicken casserole, salad and rolls, Windham spoke to a packed room for 30 minutes, sharing a few brief anecdotes about her childhood and growing up in Alabama. The audience laughed often and easily from the moment Windham began her storytelling.

“It surprises me that people think storytelling is a strange thing,” Windham said during the engagement. “Stories happen every day.”

Windham, a professional storyteller for more than 34 years, said storytelling is the oldest and most fragile of the arts.

“Once it’s told, it will never be told the same way again,” she said. “And there’s absolutely nothing between the teller and the listener.”

Windham credits her father for many of the stories she tells.

“I grew up in the era before television, and certainly before cell phones and Ipods and stuff I don’t even know the name of,” she said.

“When I was growing up, everyone told stories. I’m amazed I get paid for this.”

This weekend will be a mini-revival for the art of storytelling. Friday is the start date of the Alabama Tale Tellin’ Festival, kicking off at 5:30 p.m. in Pickard Auditorium with Swappin’ Ground. Official Tale Tellin’ begins at 7, and continues into Saturday following the same schedule.

Windham will be emcee for the event.

Other participants in the Tale Tellin’ Festival include Bil Lepp, Wanda Johnson and the Dill Pickers.

Lepp has made appearances at more than 40 storytelling festivals since 1996, and has released three print and four audio books.

Johnson has been dubbed “The Gulf Coast’s Premier Storyteller” and has recently released the CD “Rich in Love.” The Dill Pickers, from Birmingham, will be making a return appearance at the festival this year.

Windham said it’s wonderful to be participating in the weekend’s events.

“People should say, ‘let me sit here and tell you a story,'” Windham said of adults bridging the gap between their children and grandchildren. “Storytelling is saying, ‘I love you.'”