Thursday, March 26, 2015

New member Lana Woolf: Stories that represent and nourish 2015

Many people start their stories with, ‘once upon a time’, and finish them with ‘and they lived happily ever after’, but you see, that’s not how my story goes. This story starts in the recent past, and as for happily ever after, well, we hope that all stories end this way, but we just never know, do we?

So, I will start this story with; about 5 years ago I moved to Melbourne…

About 5 years ago I moved to Melbourne without friends or family, just a new job and a strong sense of social justice. Not too long after moving here, I came across a poetry workshop with the Centre of Poetics and Justice, and some-time between then and now, I became a stage and page bio-myth poet who has won awards, and has been published. Now I perform and run bio-myth poetry workshops and sometimes get invited all over the country to do this wonderful work.

During my time dwelling deeply discovering poetry, I also left my highly bureaucratic community job that was wearing me out, and I became a broadcaster for Australia’s only queer radio station, JOY 94.9, as well as a news reporter specialising in Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Trans*, Intersex and Queer (LGBTIQ) stories for 2SER’s, The Wire.

I mention my radio work because there is some commonalities with my spoken word work.

Firstly, it is all focused around using language to tell stories, and catch stories, and to re-tell them. I collect personal stories, my own and other people’s, and connect them to the larger stories we know and hear to understand the world.

All of the work I do focuses on giving voice to the people and stories we don’t usually get to hear, the stories about the people that are often the most marginalised and invisible in our society.

Moving into storytelling was an obvious logical next step. In about 2013 I started writing bio-myth stories and performing them in local spoken word events like ‘Keep Left’. It was an area of writing and performing that made my heart leap and the words joyfully skip from my mouth.

At the end of last year I was so excited to hear about Storytelling Australia Victoria (SAV) and I went along to the Words On The Wind workshop. It was here that met some of the wonderful women from SAV. They invited me to events and to join the organisation, befriending me and encouraging me to participate, sharing my passions of storytelling, with the unique perspectives I bring. This wonderful support has nourished my creativity, allowing me to think about new ways to develop my spoken word craft, specifically in the area of exploring the art form through a lens of feminist and queer frameworks to re-write folk and fairy tales.

I will admit to you that, although a lover of fairy tales, these types of stories became ones that I couldn’t relate to for the longest of times, and that is not because I think that fairytales are only for children. In my fairytales, I wanted to be the princess, but without the prince. I wanted to hike up my long flowing beautiful gowns and kick the villain’s ass myself. The type of person I found myself wanting to fall in love with,well, they weren't mentioned in the fairytales I read. 

I guess the reason for that, is in modern times, the fairy tales we had access to as children were ones that reinforce social norms that I was simply not connecting with.

What interests me in this art form, is how the narrative construction and manipulation of these tales of magic and wonder and transformation contribute to making different ideological narratives possible within specific social contexts. I can decide to view the fairy tale as a powerful discourse which produces representations of gender and sexuality that before were invisible to me and to the many others that don’t see themselves reflected in the fairy tales we usually hear.

This work that I do, I hope, creates a space where people can appreciate the stories I tell, not just because the stories represent a community we don’t usually hear from in folk and fairy tales, but also I hope that people start to see a presence that is often not seen in this storytelling space. I hope to widen that space so that diversity in all its forms is more prevalent.

In my worldview, diversity itself is not important. Diversity is reality. Human beings are not all the same. We come from many different places and have many different identities and experiences. Having only one kind of human being in the stories being told is flat-out bad storytelling. Diversity is reality. It is my endeavor that as a storyteller I stop that erasing of diversity and make the invisible, visible.

I am really wondrously excited to be a part of SAV, and I look forward to participating in this organisation, with much to learn and much to share. I look forward to the future and through storytelling, exploring all the possibilities of our world that will hopefully spread out like branches in the tree that is our lives. Strong, and beautiful, creating shelter from the harsh world when needed, creating the air that we breathe into our beings that is necessary for us to tell the stories that both represent us and nourish us.

So you see, this is my story, and now my storytelling friends, you have heard it too.

To find out more about the work I do you can find me at:

Lana recorded the story that she wrote especially for World Storytelling Day - the theme for 2015 was 'Wishes'. You can listen to The Wish of a Huntress HERE

If you are a new member, or an old timer, and would like to tell your story, please let us know. This blog is one of the places where we can learn and share in the richness of our community.

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