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Literary Thu Oct 01 2009
Tuesday's Chicago inaugural of The Moth's StorySLAM at Martyr's was sold out to a crowd of eager listeners. I arrived early and installed myself at the bar, where I scanned the notes I'd prepared in case my name got pulled from the hat. When I looked up, I saw other storytelling hopefuls doing the same. The slam was focused around the theme of "school". Hosted by Dan Kennedy of The Moth Radio Hour and sponsored by WBEZ, this was the first time the 13-year old storytelling institution conducted a StorySLAM in Chicago. Later this week they'll be in Detroit, and then back in New York.
I was so absorbed in my notes that I neglected to drop my name in the hat, and by the time names started getting called I chickened out and refrained from investigating the matter any further -- I had just typed up my notes earlier that day, and although my test reading at home in front of the cats seemed to go over pretty well, I was feeling a bit reticent about the possibility of getting up on stage. Jonathan, a fellow storytelling enthusiast, tried to buck my courage with a pearl of wisdom that went something like this: when you get up on stage you have two options -- get off, or keep going. I didn't have the heart to tell him that I hadn't even put my name in the hat, but that's advice I'll remember for next time.
The evening was filled with stories. Some sad, some funny and some sweet, and all of them told by regular Chicago citizens, which is what made them great. Highlights included:
A Jheri-curl gone wrong, resulting in hair that looked like wet tootsie rolls;
A young woman who tried to outrun triplets named Ronnie, Raymond and Richard;
What happened to 48 bags of potting soil in the back of a U-Haul truck;
Questionable real estate choices in Bolingbrook;
A reminiscence of a schoolyard game called "the love box";
How to enjoy an imaginary bubble bath;
How a semester in France helped one young woman to overcome her battle with an eating disorder;
A party where the entry requirement is that you've failed at something; and
Advice from the best teacher ever.
Larry Kerns won the slam with his gripping tale of near-injury at the hands of his shotgun-wielding teenage daughter.
Next month's slam will focus on the theme of "firsts," so get your pens, pencils and laptops out and start writing. For more information and to listen to podcasts of previous StorySLAMS go to The Moth.