Storytelling Festival

Storytelling Festival - One World, Many Stories

Words that Heal

The 3rd Annual Storytelling Festival at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum kicks off Friday night, February 6th, during Art Hop, with a musical performance from BenJammin Educational Music and storyteller Karen Libman. The focus of this year’s festival is “Words That Heal.” Together, BenJammin and Analisa Gauthier perform family-centered songs that help kids understand health, conflict resolution, and core subjects with lots of crowd participation. They will open with a free interactive concert at 6:00 p.m. Karen Libman follows up with stories sure to make you feel good at 7:00 p.m.

Image of BenJammin and Analisa Gauthier

Karen Libman’s performance debut was as a singing crow in the 4th grade play at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School in Atlanta, GA. The lure of being able to “caw” in public has never worn off, and she has been “crowing” about life ever since! She is a theatre professor at Grand Valley, director, actress, wife and mother, and a storyteller. Karen has lived in 17 places since 1980 and has told stories at festivals, museums, and schools from the Kansas City Storytelling Festival to The Nebraska Storytelling Festival to the Grand Rapids Art Museum and the Michigan StoryFest.

Image of Karen Libman

Hands-on, picture book-based crafts and the vendor fair open up the festival on Saturday, February 7 at 10:00 a.m. They continue until the Museum closes at 5:00 p.m. Local book stores, authors, and literacy-based organizations will be on hand, with materials for purchase, to share how stories heal as well as the importance of reading, writing, and sharing your own personal stories. The festival is free and open to all ages!

Children making book based crafts

The Mary Jane Stryker Theater opens with Gemini at 11:00 a.m. The Gemini brothers have touched at least three generations of children with their collection of musical instruments, sing-along songs, bedtime lullabies, videos, and musical stories. Winners of numerous family music awards and educational accolades, we can’t think of a better way to get started.

Image of Gemini

Kinetic Affect poets Kirk Latimer and Gabriel Giron have faced their difficult pasts head on, emerging on the other side of the storm with a deeper understanding of our common humanity, personal struggles, and triumphs. Kirk, whose history of abuse brought out the bully in him, and Gabriel, a cancer survivor, have learned to put their healing journeys into words that touch the hearts of all who hear them. They have used their experience to not only reach their audiences, but to help teens and those struggling confront their own life challenges and learn to express their stories.

Image of Kinetic Affect performing in front of an audience.

It is our vulnerability that makes us strong, not just as people, but also as poets. Learning to take “what we know” and turning it into a deeper awareness of our world through writing is what makes Kinetic Affect’s poetry universal and tangible to audiences, and this is why Kirk Latimer and Gabriel Giron co-founded the non-profit arm of their work, Speak It Forward Inc. Through fun, funny, and emotionally poignant activities and dialogue, they are able to tap into the potential of a writer (student, professional, you name it) and unleash that potential through the art of spoken word. The educational process takes people on a journey from self-exploration to one of personal transformation through the use of poetry mechanics, word play, and raw honesty. Then they share (through performances) our “scars,” as they exist in our lives and in our writings. It is this powerful sharing that makes us better writers, better people, and more connected with the world around us. Kinetic Affect will share their stories at 12:00 p.m., followed by students from Speak it Forward at 1:00 p.m.

Image of a student from Speak it Forward sharing his story.

Storyteller, musician, and naturalist Robin Nott will perform stories at 2:00 p.m. “Healing Our Earth, and Each Other: Multi-cultural stories and folk songs to celebrate our connection to this beautiful world” will emphasize the holistic approach to a happy and healthy life in relationship to the world around us.

Image of Robin Nott

At 3:00 p.m., Shawanah Jane Murray bridges cultures with Native American stories. She tells the stories of the Anishinabeg, the Woodland Indians of Michigan, to help her audiences experience a different perspective and discover a valuable legacy. Jane studied with Grandmother Keewaydinoquay, Woman of the Northwest Wind, for five years. Keewaydinoquay was an Ojibwa elder, storyteller, and Professor of ethnobotany. Jane is a published writer and storyteller.

Image of Shawanah Jane Murray

Our festival ends with Musical Folktales at 4:00 p.m., which combines interactive storytelling, beautiful music, full audience participation, and hands-on fun with musical instruments from many cultures. We welcome you to join us on this entertaining, educational, and healing journey during our 3rd Annual Storytelling Festival!

Image of Musical Folktales audience participation.