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Profiles Thu Aug 23 2012

Stories of Chicago Storytellers: Lily Be

314716_10151008978262760_1557375919_n.jpgLily Be calls the Chicago storytelling community her family. Be is a native Chicagoan who grew up in the Humboldt Park neighborhood and is now a resident of Pilsen. Be completely got into storytelling by accident, attending Grown Folks Stories, a series held every 3rd Thursday of the month at the Silver Room in Wicker Park.

There, a friend put her name in the hat to be called for the open mic. "I couldn't walk away from it," said Be. Be, who became a mother at 17, told the tale of son Xaiver, getting in trouble at school for the first time. She found storytelling therapeutic and has been in the scene ever since. She has shared her personal stories of being a rape survivor, a teenage mother, losing a son, and broken engagements. "Nothing has broken me," she said. Be even attributed beating cancer to her storytelling family. "The Grown Folks people did so much for me without even knowing."

Be, now a seasoned storyteller, has influenced her 16 year old son to take up the artform.

"I dragged him to Grown Folks. He wants to be a biochemist, or his second choice, a comedic writer. I want to encourage him in all he does, and I thought this event is perfect for comedy. He tells stories about being a teenage boy. He makes them very grown up... I try to teach my son that sh** happens, and you have to stay positive about it."

She would like to see more storytelling events and opportunities for teenagers and young people. Since many storytelling events are held in bars, her son is not able to attend. Be also volunteers in the Austin neighborhood and started storytelling with neighborhood kids aged 6 to 18. "It's the greatest thing I am doing this summer," Be said.

Be never writes her stories and relies on the oral tradition she grew up with. "People get a real taste of Chicago and what Chicago breeds...The grittiness of the city feeds the storytelling machine." Be has started a new radio broadcast with fellow storyteller Rob Ruiz titled Stoop-Style Stories, based on that oral tradition of Chicagoans sharing stories on their front stoops. Check out the first broadcast which debuts Friday, August 24 from noon to 2pm on 1710 am or at A live broadcast will follow at 8pm. Stoop-Style Stories will be aired every Friday afternoon from noon to 2pm.

Photo by Monte LaMonte

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Dan / August 24, 2012 12:43 PM

I remember when that picture was taken!

Remona Kimbrough / September 30, 2014 5:07 PM

Hello how do I contact you to book an event for Markham Public Library?
My number is 708-331-0130 ex 1006

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