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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Hearn - Rokuro-Kubi - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

If you don't read or speak Japanese -- I don't -- today's title is hard to remember and understand, BUT is a wonderful story from Lafcadio Hearn's Kwaidan.  Wikipedia tells us even Hearn got it wrong as it's really about a type of rokurokubi whose heads come off, a nukekubi.  (I hear you thinking: Whatever!)  Besides being a case of "Off with their heads!" they are bloodthirsty enough to complete this month's assortment of tales.  
Footnotes omit that Arugi could be translated as Master.
 
This story could have ended in three places, one of which is in this picture, but be sure to continue on to the end of the tale past the courtroom and even the robber.  (It's rather like a piece of music that fools you into thinking it's ended only to add to the enjoyment.)  
That's my October posts of Lafcadio Hearn, but his "Goblin Spider" and "Chin-Chin-Kobokama" are also excellent choices of spooky material and he has other Japanese and Chinese stories worth telling.  Go back to October 4 to refresh your memory about him and his work.  Rokurokubi, including nukekubi have been included in anime and manga and are part of Japanese folklore with various supernatural creatures or Yokai.  Yokai are in a Wikipedia article and may interest you.  Hearn loved the more chilling of those stories,  but the article can also lead you into animal shapeshifters (not unique to Japanese folklore, but certainly can be found in many tales ... and tails?) as well as some others I enjoy like tengu and also the water creatures called kappa.  

For so long Hearn has been our only major English language window into the culture.  Since 1993 my colleague and friend, Fran Stallings, has partnered with Japanese elder storyteller, Hiroko Fujita, touring together in both the U.S. and Japan and making even more Japanese folklore available by creating various books.  I'm told yet another book is once again in the works.  Hurrah!  Don't know a Japanese equivalent, but want to make readers aware of these resources for those of us who appreciate the culture without planning to learn the language other than maybe call someone to verify an occasional bit of pronunciation.



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This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories. 

At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my normal monthly posting of a research project here.  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my monthly postings as often as I can manage it.    


  
There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I recommended it earlier and want to continue to do so.  Have fun discovering even more stories!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Hearn - Earless Hoichi - Keeping the Public in Public Domain


Play of Hoichi the Earless  Kobe City Suma Temple
Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things is an excellent source of spooky stories by Lafcadio Hearn.  Fans of a movie version saw today's story.  Here is an excerpt of Kobayashi's Kwaidan and it specifically shows Earless Hoichi.  Hoichi the Earless even has its own Wikipedia article, but most of it is a summary of . . . brace yourself for the longer Japanese name, Mimi-nashi Hoichi.  There is, however, a great picture from a theatre production.

Hoichi's Shrine.





Probably few reading this can read Hearn's source by Isseki Sanjin -- one of the reasons Hearn's work is such a valuable window on Japanese folklore.  Wikipedia also notes a variant exists, "Ear-cut  Danichi" from another area, Tokushima Prefecture on Shikoku island.  Personally I dearly love the article's pointing out the actual Buddhist temple where the story is set, even showing what is now know there as 



What I don't care to do is give you a scan from my own copy of the story.  Why? I penciled in notes of how I adapt the story.    O.k. first of all I confess the librarian in me has a problem with writing in a book.  The storyteller in me had two other problems: some of it is too faint to reproduce well and then I also hate to tell people my adaptations are the way to tell the story.  Theres a further practical aspect, it's 20 pages long!  Does that mean I'm not going to give you Hearn's story?  Dunberidiculous!  Internet Sacred Text Archive has done an excellent job of posting it and, besides the online version of the entire anthology of Kwaidan, which I definitely recommend, I would send anyone seeking more Japanese folklore also to the Sacred-Texts page on Shinto and Japanese Religions.  It is not just religious as it includes not only folklore, but also Public Domain cultural resources and all translated in English.

I hope today's segment of Keeping the Public in Public Domain encourages you to try some additional stories too good to be allowed to get dusty in an archive or, worse yet, disappear because nobody reads them.  Remember libraries have limited space, so books not borrowed are eventually removed.  Librarians use a gardening term, weeding, but it means the book is on its way to oblivion unless it can be added to online resources.  Thanks to recent copyright law, many books are a long way from being safely in Public Domain and online collections.  That's a rant for another day and I'll try to put my soapbox away.
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This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories. 

At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my normal monthly posting of a research project here.  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my monthly postings as often as I can manage it.    


  
There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I recommended it earlier and want to continue to do so.  Have fun discovering even more stories!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Hearn - Mujina - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

This week's story is the shortest of the four stories I'm posting by Lafcadio Hearn.  He enjoyed the unusual aspects of Japanese folklore, especially when looking at spooky tales.  The story comes from Tokyo of an earlier century and the Mujina is not your usual frightening creature.


























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This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories. 

At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my normal monthly posting of a research project here.  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my monthly postings as often as I can manage it.    


  
There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I recommended it earlier and want to continue to do so.  Have fun discovering even more stories!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Lafcadio Hearn and "The Boy Who Drew Cats" -- Keeping the Public in Public Domain

October's a great month for spooky storytelling!  I love so many stories, but a favorite author, Lafcadio Hearn, deserves featuring and he's definitely in the Public Domain.  I'll end this with his best-known and loved "The Boy Who Drew Cats", but want to give more about Hearn first.

This site offers a quick introduction, an interesting Bulletin Board related to his work, and some other resources.  Wikipedia gives the usual thorough, but dry article, yet it gives a good sense of why Hearn's bleak unusual life changed so thoroughly at age 40 when he moved to Japan.  ""Lafcadio Hearn is almost as Japanese as haiku" as the Tuttle publisher's foreword to his works aptly described him.  It's also why Hearn's stories are an excellent glimpse of the Meiji period when Japan was leaving its feudal roots.  His Japanese marriage to a woman from a Samurai family, their own family, naturalization as a Japanese citizen taking the name of Koizumi Yakumo, and teaching, including at the university level, all show a man who finally found where he belonged.
I also went to BrainyQuote for a look at what others felt he said of significance.  His work as a professor of English Literature at Tokyo Imperial University and Waseda University is shown instead of his retelling the Japanese tales I love.  It's interesting, however, because much is made of his moving from Catholic roots to Buddhism and yet his respect for the Bible as literature is repeatedly quoted.  As an indexer, I love his "One of the great defects of English books printed in the last century is the want of an index."
The original art by Suzuki Kason for Hearn's Japanese Fairy Tale Series

Now for my brief introduction to "The Boy Who Drew Cats."  Originally he titled it "The Artist of Cats", it was from a Japanese tale called "The Picture-Cats and the Rat", but Hearn gave his own spooky touches and a different ending from the traditional one of the boy going back to become the abbot of his temple. 

Japanese Fairy Tales not only contained this story, but is one of many books Hearn produced.  That book opens with four stories by him, but includes many other traditional Japanese stories such as "My Lord Bag-o'-Rice", "Tongue-Cut Sparrow", "Urashima", "Momotaro" and more.  Hearn's stories include "The Goblin Spider" which is spooky, too, and I love his cautionary "Chin-Chin Kobakama", but do NOT recommend it at bedtime to children.


The Online Books Page can help you find his work on the internet.  Since he is both a favorite author and fits my guidelines for my Keeping the Public in Public Domain series, I plan to have a story of his for each week in October.  If plans change, I still promise to bring a total of four of his stories.  The other three are less well known, coming from Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things, which is a gem for spooky storytellers, if you just can't wait.  (I have two other books of his beyond Kwaidan and an abbreviated Japanese Fairy Tales.  Back to reading!)
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This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories. 

At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my normal monthly posting of a research project here.  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my monthly postings as often as I can manage it.    


  
There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I recommended it earlier and want to continue to do so.  Have fun discovering even more stories!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Djurklo - Twigmuntus, Cowbelliantus, Perchnosius - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

Stories Travel!  As a storyteller I'm delighted they did.  The collection by G. Djurklo and translated by H.L. Braekstad called Fairy Tales from the Swedish has many stories showing such traveling, but do you recognize "Twigmuntus, Cowbelliantus, Perchnosius" as originating anywhere else?  I recognized a tale that took its idea . . .  more on that after the story.  First I hope you enjoy "Twigmuntus, Cowbelliantus, Perchnosius" at least as much as that strange title!
So did you recognize another story using this same idea?

If you want to see more Fairy Tales from the Swedish it's online.  I had great fun looking to see how many of those stories were ones I recognized in other versions.

Now for the answer: If you love that "Great Dane", Hans Christian Andersen you may recognize "Hans Clodhopper"!  There are many translations of Andersen and the tale of "Hans Clodhopper" is one of my favorites.  Is it the same?  DUNBERIDICULOUS!  Andersen is not usually placed in the folktale section, but you can trace many of his tales to his obvious love of folklore.

Speaking of folklore and stories that have traveled or been around a long time . . .

This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories. 

At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my normal monthly posting of a research project here.  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my monthly postings as often as I can manage it.    


  
There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I recommended it earlier and want to continue to do so.  Have fun discovering even more stories!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Slave Cotton

Trish and Carl Moss as Sarah and Governor Austin Blair
When doing Civil War reenactments as Liberetta Lerich Green, who grew up on a Utica, Michigan Underground Railroad Station and whose brothers were in the "Fighting Fifth" Infantry, I'd been wearing my Victorian mourning outfit, in honor of her late husband, Addison Green.  Now I will also offer Civil War period clothing thanks to Trish Moss who portrays Sarah Blair, the wife of Michigan's wartime governor.  (Her husband, Carl, portrays Governor Austin Blair.)  They're not officially online, but here's a video and article from The Voice of Carl dedicating the time capsule for Marine City's Heritage Days.  Trish is far more lively than shows in the video, but as often happens with "First Ladies", was merely there in support of her husband.  Here is at least a photo of them both.

Like any reenactor I needed a story.  Liberetta's oral history and other research I have done over the years didn't quite explain something I know would have concerned her abolitionist family . . . slave cotton.  What's that? 

To understand the role of "King Cotton" in the Confederate States economy, this Wikipedia article summarizes how they hoped to use Lincoln's blockade to bring in European allies to their cause.  The blockade was effective, while the attempt at "cotton diplomacy" by the south was not.  Europe was determined to remain neutral and the Cotton Famine led them to switch to other sources.

At the same time a boycott of slave-produced goods was controversial.  No less a major abolitionist than William Lloyd Garrison switched from supporting the boycott to deciding it was unenforceable and a distraction.  Many women, Quakers and African-American abolitionists disagreed.  Professor Julie Holcomb's article, "Blood-Stained Goods" offers a good summary of "The Transatlantic Boycott of Slave Labor" and has contracted for a book-length explanation of Moral Commerce: The Transatlantic Boycott of Slave Labor.

Did that mean northerners stopped wearing cotton?  Dunberidiculous!


As this paragraph from "They Wore Cotton" shows:
So where did Northerners get their cotton from during the Civil War? The South, of course.
It seems that during the Civil War Lincoln promoted trade with the south, especially in raw cotton. He did so for several reasons. One was to keep northern weaving mills in operation. Second, Lincoln believed that many in the south sympathized with the Union and he wanted to ensure their loyalty. Third, he didn’t want the south trading the cotton that had supplied the north to England in exchange for guns and supplies.
So a brisk trade in southern cotton carried on even though the South tried to stop it by burning much of the cotton crop of 1862. Unfortunately, other than allowing northerners to continue to wear cotton, it did not have all the results Lincoln hoped for. The traders, mostly Copperheads, were soon making magnificent profits trading guns and supplies for raw cotton, despite several efforts by the government to control the trade. To learn more of the ins and outs of this trade read David Surdam’s paper Traders or Traitors: Northern Cotton Trading during the Civil War and also Civil War Cotton Conspiracy. 

It's interesting that even Lincoln had second thoughts about the boycott of Slave Cotton.

So here I am aware the Lerichs were fiercely inclined to follow their principles.  Two examples Liberetta mentioned were salting a corn crop they sold, thus preventing its distillation into alcohol, and refusing to keep dogs because they were against hunting.  Surely Slave Cotton would have been something they didn't purchase during the war and yet they, too, needed "Sunday-go-to-meeting" clothes.  Fortunately during the war Liberetta was a young teenager, so it's understandable she probably wore hand-me-down dresses from her older sister, Cleantha, nearly 8 years her senior.   

Here are the wonderful outfits Trish Moss made. 
Ladies sometimes wore their skirts without hoops, especially around fires.  (A hoop also fits this.)



 













 
Simple muslin with a china figurine inspiring the trim















 
Classic (with curtain ties trim on the sleeves)


If you are interested in seeing what fabrics looked like during the Civil War, Reproduction Fabrics offers a page of swatches along with a link to a history of civil war fabrics.

The look is certainly lovely, but it could also be said to be "striking" as a few women in an ordinary modern-sized room fill it when all wear hoops. 

While my ladies of long ago may tease today's women and girls by acting shocked that they wear "Trousers!", isn't it great that we can?  Mid-19th century women would have been fined for dressing like a man.  Amelia Bloomer was both a fashion revolutionary and crusaded for women's rights and temperance.  Since Liberetta's mother also crusaded for the W.C.T.U. as well as being an abolitionist, surely she would have seen her family didn't wear Slave Cotton.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Signing and Storytelling

Over the years I've often written on the topic of sign language.

My ASL (American Sign Language) background dates waaaaay back to when my older daughter was in grade school. She's a very oral hard of hearing adult at the severely hard of hearing range. Because she's too deaf for the hearing, she finds it's easier to say she's deaf. She and her sister grew up using it thanks to my taking what classes I could + her eventually going to a school with what is called Total Communication.  That same older daughter loves to collect the many ways sign changes internationally, so I've also become somewhat aware of how signing differs in other countries.

Because the language is so totally different from other languages, I really can't say how long it will take you to feel comfortable in it. Also, like any secondary language, if you don't use it, you will start to lose it. Since this will never be your primary language, it would be a good idea to make it a practice to run any story or song you sign past either an interpreter or somebody who uses it as their primary language. Even then, like any language, there may be more than one way to say/sign it.

Why use sign language with your storytelling?

  • It's a great way to involve an audience. 
  • It's now the 3d most used language in our country and there's a LOT of interest in it. 
  • "Baby sign" programs have also shown its value with more than those who have a language or hearing problem.  It encourages communication at an early age, helping infants and toddlers express their feelings and what they want.  This can reduce frustration and misunderstanding for both adult and child.
  • I often have taught such programs, including programs for interested young audiences to introduce them to it.
  • Because of this I often tell a story in voice and sign, teaching first the signs basic to the story. 
  • Often these signs are simple concepts like colors, animal names, that type of thing. When I was doing weekly preschool programs as a librarian, I used signs as an added way to learn basic concepts.
  • It also is a great way to involve more than one learning style.  Research shows the more learning styles used, the better something is learned.
Sign language has several variations even within the United States.  By telling in voice and sign it tends to move my signing from the American Sign Language end of the spectrum more towards Pidgen Sign, which is signing in English word order. It also tends to streamline my spoken words to coincide with what I'm signing. While I don't usually do an entire program in sign, I have enough stories to put one together. I also have done entire programs in voice and sign when the audience included deaf classes with hearing classes. To do that, you need to get to a fairly conversational level with a lot of vocabulary.
This book originated in paperback, which is now out of print, but Amazon offers a Kindle edition.

There's a lot more I could say, but you might find it worth reading a chapter in Margaret Read MacDonald's book, Tell the World; Storytelling Across Language Barriers. I wrote the first half of the chapter on Translation into a Signed Language; then a licensed interpreter wrote the second half. Whatever you decide, I'd strongly recommend a class in A.S.L., preferably from somebody with strong ties in the deaf community to help you understand more.
  • One last thought, I've found signing also helps when telling with people whose native language is not English, but they're trying to learn it. Many signs are called "natural signs" as they use a sign that matches "natural" gestures.  As mentioned in my list of reasons above, the more senses you can bring into learning is always worthwhile. Signing uses both your visual and kinesthetic abilities.
I even have a large puppet that lets me sign. 
Ivan signs "friend"

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The following comments came after I wrote the above article, which I've expanded and edited here for this blog.  The heart of my comments were part of a forum discussion on Professional Storyteller, an international network of storytellers.

Lois: I could not have advised any better than you have. I have a background in ASL and use it when telling stories from my young readers book: "MIDNIGHT AND THE MAGICAL PRAIRIE SCHOONER." The only other ting I would add, Daniel, is the importance of respect for ASL as it is also the culture of the Deaf. I find using "pidgin" used with sim-com (speaking simultaneously) useful with an all hearing audience. I also feel a strong sense of responsibility in educating children in ASL. So, when Lois says take a class in ASL, she's spot on. But also know that the best way to both show your respect for ASL and the Daf community and the best way to learn ASL is to socialize with the Deaf. They are not only the best teachers, you will also find them to patient and eager to teach. Best of Luck, Daniel and Lois in bringing us closer together through sign story. Oh, one last thing. Daniel, check out a series of tapes called - I think this right- "STORIES FROM THE ATTIC" with Billy.. forget his last name. Very basic kids stories.
Peace and Grace, Deins

Thank you, Denis.
This is precisely why I say "The deaf community is a true community and American Sign Language is a true language." Hopefully anyone taking a class in ASL also gets an introduction to this. Getting out and associating with deaf individuals and groups helps you discover just how much you don't know, while feeling the support that comes from having a relationship. CODAs (Children Of Deaf Adults) and interpreters can also help you, but the goal is communication, so the more that comes directly to you from anyone who is deaf, the better.


at ETSU we have two amazing interpreters, Libby Tipton and Tracy who I am afraid I don't know the second name of, who do a lot of storytelling interpretation both for us and at the National Festival and other NSN and ISC events. Libby is also a speaking storyteller.
Recently ETSU organisation Silent BUCS hosted Peter Cook - internationally reknown deaf storyteller - and he teaches narrative development for interpreters - and anyone else who wants to tell in sign. http://professionalstoryteller.ning.com/events/narrative-development-in-asl I can't find a direct link to Peter's own website via google at present - just lots of his gigs - but I'll ask then post it.


Daniel's initial post made me a bit wary as I read it (probably not how it was intended) as seeing ASL as an easy way to extend a repertoire and get more bookings - something I think we speaking storytellers need to be very careful of.

Any language switch will change someone's telling, but ASL more so than most, because it functions differently to a verbal language. So my thought is that speaking storytellers with no previous ASL experience should either plan a long ASL learning period followed by developing their art form in ASL, or hook up with ASL interpreters and work together - otherwise I think we risk offering the deaf community a substandard storytelling experience, thinking we can just learn a bit of sign language and use it with our telling. Learning a bit and using a little if we have deaf audience members is a polite and good thing that we can do to involve a deaf audience and interpreters for them, but that is somewhat different. All this is purely my opinion, not anything I've discussed with the ASL interpreters at ETSU - but I'll try and point them here to add to the discussion

Delete
Kat
I looked at my Post and can see where you might be a bit wary. I assure you that my thoughts were not on money, only on making my self a better storyteller. If I get a couple of payed gigs out of it all the better. And as far as easy... learning a new language is not easy. I would not use it as a game, I would use it as a learning tool for hearing students and audiences, and to tell stories to the ASL community who, as I see, don’t get a lot of storytelling exposure. I’m also looking into learning Spanish for the same reasons. (Though there are more Spanish speaking storytellers)

Back to Storytelling + Research:

More recently those classes for parents and other caregivers have been something I offer in addition to my storytelling.  
Warren Public Library offered it last winter and spring and will again offer it starting Tuesday, September 30, 2014 at 6:30 p.m.with follow-up sessions on the last Tuesday of each month.
To register or find out more go to: Warren Public Library or call the Civic Center Library at 586-574-4564.

Held in the Conference room next to 
Warren Civic Center.
  
Yes, sessions tend to end with me telling a story in voice and sign language.