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Revised January 12, 2015
Voyageur Storytelling publishes its own line of Storytelling Chapbooks, or "Performances in Print", where we experiment with different ways to present stories for the reading eye instead of the listening ear. Just as an oral telling of a literary story should respect its source and fundamental nature, so too the experience of reading an oral story should retain something of its original quality. The ambiance of the oral telling should carry over, at least in some noticeable way. The aural experience of live telling cannot, of course, be fully duplicated, either in print or by recording. Each medium has its own distinctive effect.
Titles Now (or Nearly) in Print
If the picture below looks like a cover, then the chapbook is in print. If it's just a picture, then it's not ... yet.
|How to Talk Bear and Other Stories: Ursinine Utterances of the Enkindling Kind. The bears who wander the bushy expanses of the Bruce Peninsula, where most of these stories originated, are noticeably silent. Those occasionally encountered on the author’s daily and nightly walks have been heard to utter only sotto voce grunts, perhaps minatory, perhaps only conversational. Who can penetrate the mind of a bear? Torque Furbelow can, according to the title story, and Torque never lies, nor does his chronicler. As for the other stories in this collection, they too have passed all the rigorous tests of veracity traditionally applied to campfire and other similarly spirited narrative gatherings.|
|Hex Holes and Other Openings: Canadian Recitations of the Versed Kind. The Art of Narrative Recitation is not dead, merely sleeping. Without even the kiss of a handsome prince it awakes in this small collection to instruct us with suitably serious-minded excursions into the inquisitiveness of Ed Poe, the future prospects of Lochinvar, the explorations of Bear, the rescue of Cendrelle, the fate of Maria Simpson, the awful sin of Angus Ogilvie, the instructive discoveries of Rugbold Rew, and the multi-variate prowess of Enoch Lightning, ploughman of the Prairies.|
|The Well at the World’s End and Other Stories: Favourite Folk-Tales of the Reconsidered Kind. A romantic young woman sets out to find contentment by following a peculiar and difficult ritual prescribed by her grandmother. Help is conveniently at hand, although amphibious and laden with alarming conditions. These she accepts, with consequences that go far beyond anything she had imagined. This story is followed by versions of The Three Little Pigs, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Vasilisa the Beautiful and The Loon’s Necklace for modern audiences, who are perhaps less squeamish than those at whom the originals of these stories were directed.|
|The Chronicles of Bear: Canadian Mythology of the Omnivorous Kind, with artwork by Stuart James Burgess. Across the mythological landscape of Canada, like the giant short- faced bears of his ancestry, strides the awesome personality of Bear, primordial Bear, primeval Bear: huge, omnivorous and irascible. A creative force, yes, kind or heavy-handed as circumstances warrant, responding always to the individual and never to the stereotype. A questing ant receives kindness, a whining mosquito the heavy hand and then some. The great quest of his own long, long life centres around artistic self-expression: through song before the tragic loss of his voice, by other means thereafter. Join Bear as he quests his way from the great open plains of his youth to the skies of his ultimate apotheosis, and catch his spirit. Stuart James Burgess casts a long artistic shadow on the Bruce Peninsula. He is particularly known for his original symbolic and allegorical representations of wild creatures. His work may be found in the Artists’ Coop and the annual Art Show in Lion’s Head. This is his first formal collaboration with Voyageur Storytelling.|
|Wide Openings: Canadian Apertures of the Becoming Kind. This performance takes Yeats' presumption about the madness of mist and snow as common Knorthern Knowledge, instinctively grasped by Canadians and others with comparable latitudinal attitudes, exploring the extent to which nebulanivorous madness can be enlarged by forces both natural and otherwise. Art is, of course, the most reliable. Nature, however, often celebrated for her calming, even soporific effects, does her bit in subtle ways. Those who would court madness for creative purposes do well to pay attention to the lessons of fireflies, whip-poor-wills, and their ilk, not to mention mysterious forces beyond the range of normal sensory perception. Those who would not may study them too, in order to learn what to avoid.|
|War and Peace: Confrontational Fables of the Conflicted Kind. The re-emergence of warfare as a celebrated national Canadian enterprise is deeply disturbing. How did we manage to convince ourselves that we can change people’s minds by assuming the very cast of mind that we wish to change, that a constructive response to violence is greater violence? Violence may be sometimes a necessary response to evil, if all else fails, but is never constructive. Did we try all else, before we picked up the gun? Surely we ought to have learned something from the monumental slaughters of the previous century, and their aftermaths. In this collection we probe the raw wound from varying perspectives, without contributing anything very useful. But at least no one is being killed. Art is quite a good alternative to fighting, and even commerce or sport isn’t bad.|
|The Old Masters Lyrices: New Canadian Words for Old Music in the Chordelle Style. Canada is a relatively new country, as yet inadequately provided with Old Masters. The only solution is to borrow them from other nations who have surpluses. Chordelle is an artistic fusion of storytelling, classical music especially opera, and authentic northern Canadian spirit. Put these two artistic challenges together, and this booklet is one possible result, the only one to appear in print so far. You may pine, if you like, to see the whole scores, and perhaps one day you will. You may pine to hear them in performance, and in that you can be more readily satisfied. Come any summer to a Country Supper Storytelling Concert.|
|Voyageur Song: Canadian Canoedles of the Canorous Kind. Romance (the best of all storytelling purposes), demands a firm narrative link between voyageurs and canoes, our cover picture notwithstanding. Other links are equally valid: to tumplines, gargantuan portage loads, york boats (try one of those on the portage and see how romantic it is), the cordelle (a tracking rope), mosquitos, black flies, strangulated hernias, bad weather, bad liquor, monotonous food, wet blankets, early or late snow, long days, little sleep, malodorous trading posts, mud, cliffs, rocks, fast water, cold water, high winds, sexually transmitted diseases, and natural brevity of life. None of these have quite the romantic panache of the canoe, however, and since panache is our business we’ll stick pretty close to that theme, dwelling on others only long enough to make light of them. As the voyageurs themselves no doubt did, at least once the voyage was over and the storytelling began.|
|This space is reserved for The Ultimate Doggie Bag: Favourite Voyageur Recipes of the Country Supper Kind, if we ever get it ready. We're working on it, but it's been a slow process, and it still is. The picture is by Francis Hopkins, a late but colourful visual recorder of the voyageurs.|
Voyageur Storytelling 2015
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