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Friday, August 19, 2022

Miller - The Boy and the Moonlight - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

 "ART FOR ALL!"  That's the rallying cry of Michigan Arts Access throughout last weekend's annual Teacher and Artist Retreat at Higgins Lake.  I was the only one officially bringing storytelling as a literary art, but often was teamed up in my original field of training, theatre.  Michigan Arts Access puts its mission up front and throughout its work:
 Michigan Arts Access is a non-profit organization promoting creativity, education and accessibility to the arts for people with disabilities by creating an inclusive society where they may participate in, learn through, excel in and enjoy the arts.

Or to put it more clearly - All means All!

Whether that means children in Special Education or adults living with disabilities it may seem to have been achieved, but Michigan has about 200,000 Special Education students, yet less than 10% have any access to the arts.  Without MIAA it would be closer to 1%.  For disabled adults, once they reach age 26, eligibility for public school programs end and almost no social, creative, or intellectual opportunities exist.  MIAA now offers Club Create in 7 areas for adults: Copper Country (Hancock), Genesee County (Flint), Ingham County (Lansing), Mid-Michigan (Mount Pleasant), North Oakland County (Lake Orion), Upper Peninsula (Marquette) and Wayne County (Detroit). 

I've had years of residency in Special Education classes in Genesse, Oakland, and Wayne Counties, but starting last autumn and this past year I've had the opportunity to bring storytelling and crafts to the adults in Club Create.  Challenges and delight in all these settings convince me of their value and the need for even more opportunities.

Storytelling, as I said, is a literary art.  Often I try to find a story that fits a theme or a curriculum need. I confess too rarely I think of poetry, especially the Japanese form of Haiku, yet today's story convinces me I'm missing something.  Olive Beaupre Miller is the editor of Little Pictures of Japan and says "Anyone may write verses in Japan, -- that is, anyone who listens with all his heart to the song of the nightingale among the flowers, to the voice of the frogs in a star-lit pool, and the music of the wind, singing in the trees."  She goes on to point out how it is practiced by all ages and written everywhere ..."embroidered screens, on cups and plates, on painted fans, on towels, on handkerchiefs, -- in fact, they write verses anywhere!"  I confess in the past I've skipped through three-fourths of the book as it's filled with those verses, skipping past the merry pages of haiku to the back where stories of the poets, mainly Basho, appear.  Maybe it was all the associating with the other arts, visual, music, dance, and, yes, theatre that led me to this story of the boyhood of the poet, Yone Noguchi, and what influenced him.

Miller has many poems about the moon, although I didn't find any by Noguchi.  This poem however seems to fit today's story.

Tree Shadows

All hushed the trees are waiting
On tiptoe for the sight
Of moonrise shedding splendor
Across the dusk of night.
Ah, now the moon is risen, 
And lo, without a sound
The trees all write their welcome
Far along the ground!

The rhyme in that poem makes me wonder about the accuracy of its translation, but it does seem to catch what the young poet, Yone Noguchi, might have felt.

While prowling through the book I found another that seems to match the way so much of this summer has been for so many.

A Hot Night

O summer moon, we pray,
Open the wind-bag of the gods,
And let the breezes play.
May the moon and arts brighten your life and the lives of all.

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 regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it.

Other Public Domain story resources I recommend-

  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key.

  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.
    Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"

The email list for storytellers, Storytell, discussed Online Story Sources and came up with these additional suggestions:        

         - David K. Brown -

         - Richard Martin -

         - Spirit of Trees -

         - Story-Lovers - is now only accessible through the Wayback Machine, described below, but the late Jackie Baldwin's wonderful site lives on there, fully searchable manually (the Google search doesn't work), at .  It's not easy, but go to snapshot for October 22 2016  and you can click on SOS: Searching Out Stories to scroll down through the many story topics and click on the story topic that interests you.

       - World of Tales - 

           - Zalka Csenge Virag - doesn't give the actual stories, but her recommendations, working her way through each country on a continent, give excellent ideas for finding new books and stories to love and tell.

You're going to find many of the links on these sites have gone down, BUT go to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to find some of these old links.  Tim's site, for example, is so huge probably updating it would be a full-time job.  In the case of Story-Lovers, it's great that Jackie Baldwin set it up to stay online as long as it did after she could no longer maintain it.  Possibly searches maintained it.  Unfortunately Storytell list member, Papa Joe is on both Tim Sheppard's site and Story-Lovers, but he no longer maintains his old Papa Joe's Traveling Storytelling Show website and his Library (something you want to see!) is now only on the Wayback Machine.  It took some patience working back through claims of snapshots but finally in December of 2006 it appears!

    Somebody as of this writing whose stories can still be found by his website is the late Chuck Larkin -  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a., when that becomes the only way to find them.

You can see why I recommend these to you. 

Have fun discovering even more stories

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