Welcome back to Bookmarked. In this weekly series, I bookmark things I covet while sharing alternatives I can actually attain in the meantime. This is the story slams edition.
We’re spoiled here in Chicago because we live in an epicenter of live literary entertainment. The Green Mill, for example, claims to be the city’s oldest nightclub with an impressive 1907 founding. This joint is so crazy that during Prohibition, the Capones were part-owners. The Green Mill is also famous for its weekly Poetry Slams, with a line-up full of renowned poets and amateurs alike. Poetry Slams get a lot of love and fame (which is deserved), but I love story slams even more. Story Slams are the lesser known cousin of Poetry Slams (see the resemblance?), but they are growing rapidly.
There’s something magical and slightly voyeuristic about watching a stranger tell a story live. It feels very different than watching a play, or a clip on YouTube, or reading something on the page. Inevitably hearing a story from someone you know evolves into a conversation, but when a stranger tells a story it is simultaneously personal and removed. One of the best-known groups is The Moth — they are currently live in Chicago and New York, but if you’re living somewhere else, there's likely another local option, or you can always check out the highly lauded Moth podcast.
It's great to participate as an active listener, but it's impossible not to think about sharing a story yourself. Easier said than done, though. Some of us have great stories but an insufficient level of guts to tell them in front of hordes of strangers. Some of us are great listeners but, let’s be honest, can’t spin a coherent yarn. Some of us are all ready to go, but don’t live in a live-storytelling-rich area. Well, a WAY more low-key, accessible version of the Story Slam is a great game, the Story Cubes. Just roll the dice, and you’ll be tasked with telling a story incorporating all the images. It’s a boatload of fun for a party, and is even a nice way to jiggle up your imagination at work. Maybe you can even practice putting yourself on the spot with your storytelling, and work yourself up to a Slam!
Have you shared a story at a Slam? Do you think you could muster the chutzpah?