Talk story: Reviewing my decade of narrative so far, and what's next

May 27, 2012

On my 40th birthday in 2010, I pledged to make my next decade one of narrative. Let’s see how I’m doing.

In October 2010, we held the BlogTogether Birthday Bash at the Durham music club Casbah, and asked local bloggers to share stories about what blogging has meant to them or done for them. That’s when David Kroll surprised me with the lovely song Minister of Ether.

In March 2011, I led a session at the Duke in Depth weekend, with alumni telling stories about their Peace Corps experiences. I recounted how my father’s service had inspired my own. More here and a video of my story here.

In January 2012, my ScienceOnline co-organizers Karyn Traphagen and Bora Zivkovic and I invited Jeff Polish, founder and executive director of The Monti, to coordinate a storytelling program at the ScienceOnline2012 banquet. The result was a night of great fun. Listen to all seven stories.

In February 2012, I got a spot on the IgniteRaleigh stage, and I used it to explain why I want to hold your hand.

This month, I organized the Martinis and Mentors party to welcome Michael Ruhlman back to the Triangle and to learn about the perfect martini and Reynolds Price as Michael’s mentor. I recounted an incident at North Ohio Live when founding editor Dennis Dooley sat me down for the editing lesson of a lifetime.

I’m bringing narrative to my work, too. We launched the Voices of Medicine podcast just a few days ago.

And lately, on Sunday evenings before I turn in for the night, I iron my shirts while listening to the podcasts of the Monti, the Moth, StoryCollider, StoryCorps and other storytelling organizations. And this new NPR show, John Wesley Harding’s Cabinet of Wonders, looks like an interesting mix of music and stories.

So, so far, there is narrative in my 40s.

What’s next?

Back in 2010, a week before my birthday pledge, I blogged about the Monti and the soon-to-be-opened Casbah (this is Durham, NC), saying I had ideas for events in that space. Jeff would eventually fill that space for his Monti shows before moving on to larger venues as the Monti justifiably grew in popularity. We had the BlogTogether bash there, as mentioned above, and we also brought the ScienceOnline2011 attendees to Casbah for good beer and readings from our science authors.

A few weeks ago, Jeff told me that Steve Gardner at the Casbah was looking to offer the stage on Tuesday nights for spoken-word events. Steve has already had The Hinge Literary Center doing their Mixtape Readings, and the Hinge and Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies are collaborating on a series called Professor Diablo’s True Revue. There’s to be an open-mic comedy night, too.

There were Tuesdays to fill, Steve told me. Here was a great opportunity, and I jumped. I pitched four ideas. He liked three of them, and suggested putting them together.

So, here goes.

On Tues., July 10, 2012 at Casbah, we’ll kick off Talk Story: A narrative variety show. This will be an evening of true stories, told by friends and colleagues I’m recruiting to the effort (and I’m looking for volunteers). Some will have a thousand words to tell a story about a photograph. Others will tell a story in tandem. We’ll have a Tweet, Tweet segment, a medical detective story, and audience participation. It’s going to be fun. And free!

Watch for a dedicated site for Talk Story, and if you have ideas for other creative ways to tell a story, or suggestions for who might be a good storyteller, contact me soon.

Anton Zuiker

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