Today is Wednesday, March 5, 2014

 

ISLAND CHILD, my children's bio of Barack Obama's childhood, has been available on AMAZON for over a year, now. To find it, go to www.amazon.com and enter "Island Child by Loralee Cooley."  The book page should come up.  It's available there for $5.50 + S/H.
 

And this month is the Tejas Storytelling Festival (www.tejasstorytellingfestival.com) in Denton Texas. I'll be leading a workshop entitled "Say wha...???"  We'll talk about how storytellers use their voices and how listeners depend on understanding what they say.  This was inspired by an elderly man here in Cordell Oklahoma, who commented--after attempting to enjoy a storytelling program--"My ears can't hear as fast as they talk!"

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And now, some background on me.

My business name comes from story-telling and yarn-spinning, and was a by-product of a phone conversation with a customer service representative, shortly after we moved to Atlanta in 1979.  When she asked about my work (I'd listed "storytelling" on the application), she responded to my explanation with "Oh!  YARNSPINNING!  I understand perfectly."

The first 23 years of my life I called Charleston Illinois home.  A "war baby" of World War II, I lived two blocks from my elementary school, the Lab School connected with Eastern Illinois University, where I graduated in 1965 with a B.A. in Piano Performance, and a mix of minors, including Theatre and French.  Two bouts with graduate study followed:  the first at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville Kentucky, where I met my husband, and the second at Arizona State University, which led indirectly to my storytelling career.  Eventually, in 1994, I received an I.M.A. (Individualized Master of Arts) from Antioch University in Yellow Springs Ohio, with an emphasis in storytelling.
 
My storytelling career was launched in 1977, when my husband, Ed, and I were living in Casa Grande Arizona, and both out of work---a story in itself!   We're now in Cordell Oklahoma.  Before that, we lived in Canadian Texas for three years after being in Pampa Texas, from 1994 until 2006. In Pampa, we proudly owned one of the town's historic homes, built in 1915 by a founding family of the town.  In between Casa Grande and Pampa, we lived in Richmond Virginia, Atlanta Georgia, and Anderson South Carolina, before coming to Texas....my husband's home state. (You can imagine the shock when he was called to a pastorate in Oklahoma!)  Before storytelling, we were in Louisville (Crestwood) Kentucky, where we met and married in 1967.  Then we lived in Monticello Indiana, Chattanooga Tennessee, and the Washington DC metro area (McLean Virginia).  In 1972, we moved to Arizona.  

I've set up my storytelling studio in all those places....books, Steinway grand, office equipment, and all!  

In 1982, in Georgia, I served as primary founder of the Atlanta-based Southern Order of Storytellers (S.O.S.), which will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2012.  In 1995, it hosted the annual National Storytelling Conference, which is sponsored by the National Storytelling Network.
 
I've told  in 26 states plus Washington DC, as well as in Scotland, Austria, the Georgian Republic and Bolivia.  Music and poetry are integral ingredients in my presentations.  Stories may be folktales, historical vignettes, original or family stories, and literary material.  Because we've lived in the South, the Midwest, and the West, I have stories from all of those regions.  My international interest is primarily Celtic, German, Georgian and Bulgarian, with a smattering of Latin American, notably Brazilian and Bolivian (from travels and international family connections).  Selections from the Bible are also sometimes included ( after all, my husband IS a Presbyterian minister, and I've been a church musician - starting in the 7th grade.) 

Here's a quote from me in an interview in the May 9, 1985 Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which may explain something of why I'm a storyteller.   "Storytelling is more than entertainment.  It can be a form of therapy, an expression of spiritual belief, a re-creation of a myth, or a method of teaching."  I ended by describing something I had learned from storyteller Ron Evans at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough Tennessee:  "In the Chippewa-Cree language, there are three words, which, although very different, can be used interchangeably.  They are (1) to live, (2) to dream, and (3) to 'story'."