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  • Loren Niemi

Three Things


There are few hours left in January. Not that it makes much difference to you, the reader, but for my promise to myself to post a blog every month, it is a looming deadline.


Why am I waiting till the last moment to peck out a few words? Not for lack of material as much as a lack of opportunity to consider what the start of this year has been. Month 10 of the pandemic year with the sheltering days bleeding one into the other. Not enough work. Too much crisis politics. Unseasonably warm in the Twin Cities or it you will, the absence of “Old Winter”. All true. All reason enough to say, there is nothing to write about when the fact is there is always something to write about though those things may not always be interesting to anyone but the writer.


Here are three interesting things I know.


First, “Point of View and the Emotional Arc of Stories” which I wrote with Nancy Donoval won a 2021 Storytelling World “Special Storytelling Resources” award. Yay for us! It joins its companion volume, “The New Book of Plots” which also won that award in 2013. Both books are from Parkhurst Brothers Publishers and available on-line from the usual big book sources or if you want an autographed copy, from myself directly. Both books are a summation of workshop tried and classroom tested crafting of oral and written narratives with plenty of examples and exercises to help you make better stories.


Second, I am teaching my six week digital storytelling class which uses those books as “source material” though in truth each week I’ve jumped from one thing to another based on what the students are needing rather than marching through the two, end to end. A little bit of folktales, a little personal story, now how many different ways to tell that story, now playing with who is telling it (point of view0 and when? It is going well and I will be offering it again in March and April. If you’re interested drop me a note (niemistory@gmail.com) and I’ll send you the particulars later in February,


Lastly, I just finished three days of the NSN (National Storytelling Network) Board of Directors retreat and am now the “Board Chair Emeritus” which is a nice way of saying they voted me out and someone else, younger and more digitally savvy, in. Not a big surprise.


I was called back to serve as the Chair when it looked like NSN was about to go down the tubes and by dint of hard work and some luck in the midst of the pandemic, it hasn’t. In fact, for the first time in a half dozen years, going digital instead of having a physical conference, allowed the organization to end the year in the black. Having not had to perform the last rites, it really is to the organization’s benefit to hand the leadership over to another generation.


I am still on the Board. I am still on the Personnel Committee (at least until we get done hiring new digitally savvy staff). Having brought the Fringe as a performance/storytelling form to NSN in 2005, I have supported it as a lottery based, un-juried storytelling performance model; I am going to be serving on the Fringe Committee once again. I am still a lifetime member and a multiple Oracle award winner. But having 41 years of institutional memory and volunteer sweat including a previous four-year stint as Chair invested in NSN, saying “the future belongs to the young” feels like the fact.


What will I do? I am writing a lot. Poetry. Prose and hope to continue publishing a book a year for the next three year. And as I said, I am starting to teach on-line narrative classes and planning for a return to in-person workshops and classes in the post-pandemic world. I am looking at more digital performances now and a return to the days of having an audience in the room that they say will follow vaccines. If you’re reading this and want to have me perform in a festival or series that you produce now or later, contract me, I’m happy to do so.


Until then, be well.