3:7 Thomas King’s Characters Walking Out of the Book


(Dam collapsing, Wikimedia Commons licence.)

Reading Thomas King’s Green Grass, Running Water is immensely rewarding – it provides a look into the lives of contemporary First Nation peoples as well as those on reserves.  King has spent quite some years at the University of Lethbridge, located in Lethbridge, Alberta, and close to the Kainai First Nation (Blood Tribe, traditional Blackfoot territory).  Some of the characters in Green Grass, Running Water could have walked off the region into the novel.  Speaking of characters, they are alive.  King is successful as a storyteller because he has created the characters and then let them live their lives.  Below is an analysis at a point of impending doom from the tension and the water in the dam.


Alberta Frank (pp. 304-311)

Alberta is the very likeable character in Green Grass, Running Water.  She is intelligent, independent, and harms no one.  Okay maybe eventually she will harm one of Lionel and Charlie, but not maliciously – choice is in the nature of romantic relationships.  At this point of the plot, she has lost her car, and many things are just going wrong for her – marriage, kids (King 304-6)?  How First Nation does she want to be, or how white?  When Alberta breaks down in front of Connie the police officer, the reader could be relieved – she deserves the emotional release and company (King 309-11).  She is likeable for her strength.  Unlike Charlie or Lionel, she does not try to run away from her identity.  Instead, she does things like presenting history from the First Nation perspective as an academic (Horne).  She refuses to be subversive to the settler culture (Horne).  Alberta Frank is relatable – she is human with mortal weaknesses.  She asks existential questions like what should come of life.  At this point, she has “… [t]wo men, a good job, no responsibilities”, yet, she is not happy (King 309).


Dr. Joseph Hovaugh (pp. 312-315)

Continuing with existentialism – what does Dr. Hovaugh live for?  With his name being a play on the Judeo-Christian creator, is he omnipotent (Flick 144)?  He certain does assign significance to his things – the antique office desk from his wife, and the Karmann-Ghia convertible, for example.  He remains fairly flat in the narrative, and remains mostly as a keeper of order in the mental institution and garden.  Dr. Hovaugh is uncomfortable in Canada due to its “openness to the sky”, “wideness to the land”, and being generally disorganized” (King 312-4).  He is quite aware of his place in the hierarchy as a doctor and institution head.  This attitude is expressed in his interactions with Babo, who is dismissed by him as inferior.  He asks if her ancestors have been slaves – as small talk.  The question is answered eloquently by Babo: “Nope…  But some of my folks were enslaved” (King 313).  It is unclear if Dr. Hovaugh truly understands the difference.  Though given authority, he is fairly incompetent at tracking down the escapees.  The powerlessness is dramatized as he shouts and motions in the storm over his lost car (King 315).  He, the creator with his order and garden, keeps the First Nation creators as prisoners (Cox 231).


Lionel Red Dog (pp. 316-322)

Lionel is a different kind of prisoner – that of fate.  Things tend to go wrong for him, ever since he has been shipped to the Toronto hospital as the wrong sick child, fate has continued to play cruel jokes on him.  He works at Bill Bursum’s television and stereo store, after accidentally becoming a felon in the United States and losing his government job as a result.  King’s portrayal of Lionel is very believable because it is balance – he has faced discrimination, but he also contributes to his own fate.  For example, Lionel has planned to go back to university, however he has not acted.  And here he is at the store, age forty, with his new jacket (King 316).  Guess what is playing on the television map?  It has to be a western, starring Portland Looking Bear and John Wayne – the latter being Lionel’s hero since young age.  What is forthcoming is a decisive moment for Lionel, who has been accused of self-oppression and wanting to be white (Deshaye).  What is forthcoming is a gift and a boost – he needs it, after losing his government job, not wanting to be involved with his band, not going back to school, and probably not winning Alberta Frank’s love.  This time, John Wayne dies (King 324).  This time, Lionel Red Dog sees a different reality; quite a gift from the four tricksters.


Works Cited

Cox, James H.  “All This Water Imagery Must Mean Something: Thomas King’s Revisions of Narratives of Domination and Conquest in Green Grass, Running Water.”  American Indian Quarterly 24.2 (Spring, 2000): 219-46.  Web.  25 Jul. 2016.

Deshaye, Joel.  “Tom King’s John Wayne: The Western in Green Grass, Running Water.”  Canadian Literature 225 (Summer, 2015): 66-80,167.  Web.  25 Jul. 2016.

Flick, Jane.  “Reading Notes for Thomas King’s Green Grass Running Water.Canadian Literature 161-162 (Summer/Autumn, 1999).  Web.  25 Jul. 2016.

Horne, Dee.  “To Know the Difference: Mimicry, Satire, and Thomas King’s Green Grass, Running Water.”  Essays on Canadian Writing 56 (Fall, 1995).  Web.  25 Jul. 2016.

King, Thomas.  Green Grass, Running Water.  Toronto: HarperPerennial Canada, 1999.  Print.

CBC 8th Fire Interviews Thomas King: Buffaloes and Ponies

A little pessimistic for a sunny weekend?

Thomas King, in an CBC 8th Fire interview talks about stereotypes, challenges, and the future.

He uses the imagery of “Indian [sic]… guys chasing buffaloes … riding ponies”.  The contemporary First Nation peoples rarely do that, but that is still the first thing people think of when First Nations are mentioned.  Perhaps from westerns shown on Green Grass, Running Water’s cheesy television map wall of Bill Bursum.  He also mentions the lack of sympathy for those in poverty, specifically in Canada.  Education is important, schools should teach the history of the relationship (if it is one) and treaties.

Towards the future, King is not optimistic.  He thinks realistically, First Nation peoples will have to accept compromises, and as to land, everybody else will have better ideas on how to use them than the First Nations themselves.  This is saddening and alarming coming from a person who has devoted much of his life to First Nation matters.

If you do spare the extra time to watch the interview, what is your response to it?

3:5 Join Me in the Clouds of Imagination

Cirrus(Cirrus clouds.  Wikimedia Commons licence.)

  1. In order to tell us the story of a stereo salesman, Lionel Red Deer (whose past mistakes continue to live on in his present), a high school teacher, Alberta Frank (who wants to have a child free of the hassle of wedlock—or even, apparently, the hassle of heterosex!), and a retired professor, Eli Stands Alone (who wants to stop a dam from flooding his homeland), King must go back to the beginning of creation.

Why do you think this is so?


In his Green Grass Running Water, Thomas King takes us up high to the cirrus clouds.  The clouds are perfectly comfortable seats to enjoy the performance, and once while, they turn into cotton candy as reward for the audience.  When one sits on the cirrus clouds, anything is possible.

The narrative in many ways goes in circles, and doesn’t life?  We makes plans, set goals, and once there, we become confused.  And just who are we?  We don’t choose where and when we’re born, to what culture, why do we exist?

In my opinion, that is why King constantly revisits the creation story.  The characters struggle to find out who they are, and what construct their worlds.  Because they did not, and “… whose appetite consumed the earth” (King “I’m not the Indian You had in Mind”).

The imposition of the “Indian” identity create struggle in the characters’ lives.  There is a strain of being too “Indian” and too “white”.  Lionel Red Deer stays to home, but does not want to run for band council.  Alberta Frank has had a life in white society, and then opens a café to sell fake dog meat and the “Indian” story to tourists.  Eli Stands Alone has had a life in academia, and then literally stands alone to guard his mother’s house against the monster dam.  The characters are trying to make sense of the world and themselves, and no, they are not the pre-historic “Indians” in movies and on television.

Who created the strange worlds for them?  Not the First Nations.  Maybe it’s the Dream Dog, who could be a canine who got things terribly wrong, or the Judeo-Christian God (Flick 143).  And these strange worlds collide with each other.  European worlds and First Nation worlds.  There is humour and satire extracted from the collisions, and they are good responses when one has no control of the worlds and circumstances (Chester 45, 51).

Now let us find our way back up the cirrus clouds.  King is a competent storyteller because he makes the stories fun and enjoyable.  He also tells the stories with honesty.  What resonates are the worlds that will present themselves to the audience.  The worlds, theirs and ours, are created by imagination.  And sometimes one group’s imagination dominates that of the other.

The three characters live in those peculiar imagined spaces.  Those places, like the television and stereo store, the house standing in the way of the dam, and the Dead Dog Café are the products of negotiation.  They show us how settlers really do get some things terribly wrong, with their science, facts, and hubris.

Up here in the clouds, anything is possible.  What if the First Nations retained their ways?  Do we exist to consume this planet, to make money and spend them on the newest television set?  King’s creation story tells us the “could haves”.  Look beyond the humour and the smirks on the characters’ face, and I am sure we will see wrinkles, strains, and tears.  Because there is “… no other place to go” (King “I’m not the Indian You had in Mind”).


Works Cited

Chester Blanca.  “Green Grass Running Water: Theorizing the World of the Novel.” Canadian Literature 161-162. (1999).  Summer/Autumn 1999.  Web.  16 Jul. 2016.

Flick, Jane.  “Reading Notes for Thomas King’s Green Grass Running Water.” Canadian Literature 161-162.  Summer/Autumn 1999.  Web.  16 Jul. 2016.

King, Thomas.  “I’m not the Indian You had in Mind.”  Video.  Producer Laura J. Milliken. National Screen Institute.  2007.  Web.  April 04/2013.


3:2 Establishing Civility or Extinguishing Society?


(Painting James Gilchrist Swan, Public domain.)

2] In this lesson I say that it should be clear that the discourse on nationalism is also about ethnicity and ideologies of “race.” If you trace the historical overview of nationalism in Canada in the CanLit guide, you will find many examples of state legislation and policies that excluded and discriminated against certain peoples based on ideas about racial inferiority and capacities to assimilate. – and in turn, state legislation and policies that worked to try to rectify early policies of exclusion and racial discrimination. As the guide points out, the nation is an imagined community, whereas the state is a “governed group of people.” For this blog assignment, I would like you to research and summarize one of the state or governing activities, such as The Royal Proclamation 1763, the Indian Act 1876, Immigration Act 1910, or the Multiculturalism Act 1989 – you choose the legislation or policy or commission you find most interesting. Write a blog about your findings and in your conclusion comment on whether or not your findings support Coleman’s argument about the project of white civility.


Reading historical legislation is almost a form of time travel, it takes us into the minds of people back then, as to how they have viewed the world.  The Indian Act 1876 of Canada gives us a peculiar view into definitions that leads to nation building in the backdrop of bountiful nature and seemingly quiet First Nation peoples.  This article will commence with a focus on legal definitions as our telescope into early Canadian First Nation relations.  An interesting example being for the purpose of this piece of legislation, a person is defined as “…an individual other than an Indian” (An Act to amend and consolidate the laws respecting Indians 3).  If a First Nation man or woman is not a person, then what are they?  From reading the Indian Act, a person is a suggested to be Christian and civilized, and there is a mechanism of “enfranchisement” for a First Nation man or married woman to become a fuller member of Canadian society, by satisfying government agents of his or her civility, or earning certain university degrees (An Act to amend and consolidate the laws respecting Indians 26-7).  This seems like a system imposed by groups self-prescribed as civilized and superior over the existing inhabitants of the land, and to be fair, offer those inhabitants a way to become “honorary white”.

In a way these elements of the legislation fits Coleman’s analysis of civility, that the same is imagined and produced.  The production on the other side however, is banned.  In court cases pertaining First Nation claims and rights it has been important to define what is acceptable as pre-European political society, and descendants of members of such societies possess traditional rights.   This tool of analysis on its own is fine, what is problematic the early legislators have had the historical foresight to make an essential component of political society, gatherings such as the Potlatch unlawful, and thus killing the societies at that generation (The Indian Act).

If nationalism is the product of collective imagination, then the creation of the Canadian nation has been nightmare for those who got in the way.  It would be simplistic to point a finger at yell “historic wrong”.  What took place was wrong, no question.  Understanding what happened and why would be more helpful, and what is why early contact stories are so valuable.  Those accounts tell us why and how superiority has been constructed and made permissible, and how it has been acceptable within the civil society of the day.  On the other side, stories lead us to understand First Nation societies operate, what we may learn from them and how could we help in their full restoration.


Works Cited

An Act to amend and consolidate the laws respecting Indians.”  Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, Government of Canada: 15 Sep. 2010.  Web.  07 Jul. 2016.

The Indian Act.”  First Nations and Indigenous Studies, UBC: 2009.  Web.  07 Jul. 2016.

2:6 The Coyote Goes to Intersections

IMG_20160623_212307(Photo: self)

4] In the last lesson I ask some of you, “what is your first response to Robinson’s story about the white and black twins in context with our course theme of investigating intersections where story and literature meet.” I asked, what do you make of this “stolen piece of paper”? Now that we have contextualized that story with some historical narratives and explored ideas about questions of authenticity and the necessity to “get the story right” – how have your insights into that story changed?
The Coyote not only travels through time, he also travels far – all the way to England.  Harry Robinson narrates the meeting of the two kings to make law for their children and to avoid war (Robinson 70-74).  The Coyote negotiates the books to be kept until his children grow up, and learn to read and write (Robinson 79-80).  This is a story that gets to the bottom of things.  This is a story of whose paper, whose laws, and whose chapter in history?  It contests the notion of a new Eden with a frozen people awaiting for the arrival of the European settlers.  It raises questions such as who is Chapter One and who is Chapter 15 (Asch 2-3).

Looking at the first Coyote story with new lenses from the course is a rewarding experience.

Firstly, it comes back to origin.  A common one, according to the story.  Even if the children of paper thief are misbehaving, the First Nation narrator does not call for their eviction; rather, he is asking for the right to exist and co-exist in peace.  There is kindness to be found in that claim.  It also asserts on the origin of the laws and rights.  In the belief system First Nation rights are not a concession or gift from the European settlers – they are inherited from ancestors.  The mechanics of inheriting the same may be beyond European understanding, that is, in a collective, cumulative, and spiritual way (Carlson 60).  This is helpful in investigating First Nation rights, such as ones enjoyed by those on reserves.

Secondly, what is authenticity?  Is only history written down with references authentic?  It has been the prevailing attitude.  A B.C. justice, before even touching on authenticity, has dismissed the pre-contact history of a First Nation community as “… [n]asty, brutal, and short” (Asch 11).  There is also a sentiment post-contact elements taint First Nation narratives and diminish their authenticity.  That notion puts First Nation storytellers in a difficult place, and with albatrosses around their necks (King 185).  Is the Coyote story tainted and less believable because it contains contemporary elements?  From the Salish point of view, this is a moot point.  The concept of time is simply different, and the stories could be a contemporary understanding of what is going in the world, derived from historically accurate narratives (Carlson 56-7).  I would not dismiss the Coyote story as unauthentic due the mention of a female English monarch or colonization, etc.  Rather, as it does not truly position the European settlers as the Other; it provides non-judgmental access to the First Nation response to the world (King 189).

This bring us to the final point, getting the story right.  The Salish people hold strong convictions on the existence and importance an animate non-human sphere, with spirits who can interfere with worldly affairs and fortune (Kew).  This is an essential element to authenticity, since telling stories inaccurately or with omissions will result in dire consequences coming from the spiritual realm (Carlson 57-8).  This practice of extracting stories correctly and their entirety from memory being a spiritual requirement establishes authenticity to some degree; comparable to a witness taking an oath with a hand on the Bible before testifying in European traditions.

That is “Black and White”, according to the second Coyote story, as to the books and the laws of their people (Robinson 85).  It ends with a mention to land.  Do the Coyote stories tell you who is entitled to be on the land, according to what and whose law, and how are those laws deemed reliable?  What do you make of the stories of the Coyote at a historical and geographical intersection?


Works Cited

Asch, Michael.  “Canadian Sovereignty and Universal History.”  Storied Communities: Narratives of Contact and Arrival in Constituting Political Community.  Ed. Rebecca Johnson, and Jeremy Webber Hester Lessard. Vancouver: U of British Columbia P, 2011. 29 – 39.  Web.  21 Jun. 2016.

Carlson, Keith Thor.  “Orality and Literacy: The ‘Black and White’ of Salish History.” Orality & Literacy: Reflections Across Disciplines.  Ed. Carlson, Kristina Fagna, & Natalia Khamemko-Frieson.  Toronto: U of Toronto P, 2011. 43-72.  Web.  21 Jun. 2016.

Hanson, Erin.  “Reserves.”  First Nations & Indigenous Studies, the University of British Columbia, 2009.  Web.  22 Jun. 2016.

King, Thomas.  “Godzilla vs. Post-Colonial.”  Unhomely States: Theorizing English-Canadian Postcolonialism.  Mississauga, ON: Broadview, 2004. 183- 190.  Web.  21 Jun. 2016.

Kew, Michael.  “Indigenous People: Northwest Coast.”  The Canadian Encyclopedia.  Historica Canada: Mar. 04 2015.  Web.  22 Jun. 2016.

Robinson, Harry.  “Coyote Makes a Deal with the King Of England.”  Living by Stories: a Journey of Landscape and Memory.  Ed. Wendy Wickwire. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2005. 64-85.  Print.

2:4 Coyote and the Land

  1. “If Europeans were not from the land of the dead, or the sky, alternative explanations which were consistent with indigenous cosmologies quickly developed” (“First Contact” 43). Robinson gives us one of those alternative explanations in his stories about how Coyote’s twin brother stole the “written document” and when he denied stealing the paper, he was “banished to a distant land across a large body of water” (9). We are going to return to this story, but for now – what is your first response to this story? In context with our course theme of investigating intersections where story and literature meet, what do you make of this stolen piece of paper? This is an open-ended question and you should feel free to explore your first thoughts.


(The barons and King John of England.  Wiki Commons Licence.)

Listening to and reading stories are enjoyable to inquisitive minds.  Especially when such stories present new possibilities and new worlds.  Some contact stories in North America can be read as a role reversal.  The Europeans arrive with their scientific achievements, expectations, and preconceptions, knowing exactly what they will encounter (Lutz 3).  On the other hand, First Nation narratives, while they do not travel as far, are not passive; they can be fluid and adaptive.

The Coyote story is rich in many folds.  At first there is a striking similarity to a European narrative: an entity is given a sole command by a higher power, disobeys it, and faces consequences.  Is this story a product of cultural interaction, or is this a common theme in most human societies?  The tendency of humanity to have something good and then manages to screw it up entirely?  That the world is perfect but not immutable?

The storyteller then takes us rosier grounds for a bit.  Though banished, the children of the younger brother will one day return as family.  There, foreknowledge and forgiveness.  The sinner finally comes home.  But where is the redemption?  Turns out the evil brother’s descendants will behave badly and there is a dispute over the piece of paper.  Uh, paper!  Laws, titles, “civilization”.

Are all important things ought to be on paper?  We have looked into orality in a previous section, and here it is again.  In this story the importance of paper is somewhat recognized, ironically, in spoken story.  That piece of paper remain important in the plot.  Nevertheless, the children of the righteous brother are now entitled to laws against the children of the evil brother.  The Coyote will visit England and strike a deal with their monarch.  This crux is another role reversal – European settlers being subject to the laws of the First Nations.  The laws of those expecting from the shore not “the other”, but rather family coming home.

My first response to the story is how relevant it is.  It touches on historical wrongs, politics, and First Nation rights.  The story does not live in a frozen, prehistoric past; it is definitely not “cold” (Wickwire 22).  The story is clever like a coyote and hard to decipher – put down our European-influenced lens and see an exact mirror image.  Dig in deeper and we will see a fixation, which is land.  European law tends to govern the law as to who may possess, occupy, and benefit from it.  If a certain people have fostered strong ties with the animals, the water, and the land: their perspective would be quite different.  They are with the land, but they do not govern it.   They have not industrialized.  That is, taking more than one can reasonably need, and feeling awfully good about the commercial gains.  Rather they live with, understand, and try to be at harmony with it.  The laws are from the land to the peoples, not vice versa.

What is your take?  I really look forward to your feedback.

Works Cited

Burgesse, Michael.  Illustration for Book 12 of Paradise Lost.   Christ College, University of Cambridge, 3 Feb. 2014.  Web.  15 Jun. 2016.

Lutz, John.  “Introduction.”  Contact Over and Over Again.” Myth and Memory: Rethinking Stories of Indigenous- European Contact.  Vancouver: U of British Columbia P, 2007.  Web.  13 Jun. 2016.

“Part II: Right of The Aboriginal Peoples of Canada.”  Constitution Acts, 1867 to 1982.  Department of Justice, Government of Canada, 3 Jun. 2016.  Web.  15 Jun. 2016.

Wickwire, Wendy.  “Introduction.”  Living by Stories: a Journey of Landscape and Memory.  Harry Robinson. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2005.  Print.

2:3 Reading and Reflecting on “Home”


(Photo: self)

Most of us live in a mixture of concrete, wood, stucco, glass – you get the idea.  Defining “home” in this sense is easy.  Doing the same at an abstract level is not.  What is home?  It’s a constant progress of thoughts and doubts in writing my blog and reading those written by my counterparts.  The experience of reading what Linda, Sylvia, and Victoria have written is a beautiful one; it demonstrates the power of stories.  As they share with us parts of their lives and their sense of “home”, there are commonalities.

Firstly, home is a highly emotional concept.  Emotions like safety, love, and nostalgia construct our homes.  Home embodies the goodness that comes out of human relationships.

Secondly, home is cultural.  It contains stories of ancestry and migration.  The very same stories that confirm one’s affinity to a land.

This leads us to the final point – home is landed.  Part of it at least, has to be attached to a parcel of land on this earth.  The stories are set on a tree in the family backyard, or in an old mansion in the family’s old country.

The above leads to some discomfort as a Canadian.  It tells us the displacement of peoples from land traditionally home to them, to which they have significant emotional attachment, and on which their cultures have formed cannot be permissible.  This discomfort makes listening to stories from all of us a matter of importance and a necessity if we hope for understanding and reconciliation.

2:2 Stories of Home


(Photo: self)

The story of “home” is challenging for me.  As a kid my family moved around often, finally settling in Vancouver; and culturally part of me is in diaspora.  I know the space I am most familiar with – Vancouver, would be home.  However personally it is hard to define “home” in the abstract sense.  In this case, I will have to rely on stories.

I remember having my first puppy.  We brought him home, and he slept next to my bed in his blanket.  He woke me up that night with his kisses.  He was looking to make a friend in a strange place.  I watched him grow, as did I.  Over the years we walked and cycled around the neighbourhood, and had our favourite spots.  He got lost once in a big park, and I experienced 75 pounds of sheer excitement jumping onto me when we were reunited.  The sad part to this story is humans tend to outlive canines.  He had cancer and treatment was unsuccessful.  So we had to say our goodbyes and let him depart in a humane manner.  His stories stayed.  That and the experience of saying goodbye and learning the importance of spending time with close ones, construct part of home.

I also had my first fight here.  It was in the high school locker room.  This guy I didn’t know well pushed me, and I pushed back.  It did not get more vicious than a few punches, and we both got sent to the counsellor.  We were made to apologize to each other and make amends.  To our mutual surprise, we were more common than different, and became good friends.  He let me borrow his mountain bike from time to time and I invited him to parties.  I asked him years later why did he push me in the locker room.  “Absolutely random” was the answer.  I guess it could be an adolescent rage thing.  The experience out of the incident was learning to respect others and overcome differences – part of growing up.  That passage is part of the feeling of home.

Oh and learning to drive.  My dad had a do-it-yourself attitude, and when I turned 16 onto his car we went.  I had no idea what I was doing, and my heart was pounding all the way to my throat.  We started in the quieter, residential streets learning the basics of motoring.  After an hour my dad was satisfied with my performance, and asked me to turn to a busy street.  I thought I was doing well for ten blocks, and then made a bad lane change without shoulder-checking.  The driver of a truck in the other lane had to slam on his brakes, and was rightfully angry.  He rolled down his window and yelled: “Learn to drive!”  I felt I had to apologize for his trouble.  So I rolled down my window and sheepishly said: “Sorry.  I am learning.”  The response was probably unexpected by him.  He had a good chuckle and then waved, before driving on.  That memory of learning the tricks of adulthood and bonding with my father is part of feeling at home.

And how can I forget the first kiss.  It was a summer during high school, and everything was a blur.  That was a summer of understanding human relationships and ourselves.  Time definitely does not function in a linear fashion – it has been too quick.

Writing this blog entry is an experience of going back in time, into memories in search of home.  Home is not a pile of wood and bricks and steel.  It is a feeling, a collection of thoughts.  I think I found it.  Home is where the stories are.

1:5 How Evil Came to the World

The Story


                                                 (Photo: self)

How Evil Came to the World

The first human families were happy and peaceful.  They were that way because by working together there are food and shelter for everyone.  Over the years they became a big family tied together by sharing food and shelter and telling stories.  More importantly, they are happy because there is Hope.  Hope is the belief of inherent goodness in the world; and as long as their children believed in Hope, everyone was happy.  There was another family: two crows facing eviction from the area by the owls.  The humans took pity on them, and fed them peanuts.  The crows nested near the humans, and everyone was happy.  The crow family grew, and the human children marveled at the feathery creatures with pink mouths.  The crows gifted shiny things they found to the humans.  They became fast friends.

A disease hit – the father crow died, the mother lost most of her feathers.  The owls seized the opportunity and chased all but one of the crow children away.  The remaining crow child quickly learned to fly and hunt, and started to feed his mother.  The humans were touched by his acts.  The crows showed them Hope.

The owls were consistent, and one day the crow came home to see her mother on the ground.  The fall from the nest killed her.  The crow stayed for almost ten days by the body, and then flew away.  The human children were devastated.  They told the story to each other, and some refused to believe the crow was gone.  He will be back, they insisted.  I wished he did too, but he didn’t.  As the human children grew up, they lost Hope, and Evil came into their world.  They can’t call the crow or the tragic story back.

It was too late.  For once a story is told, it cannot be called back.  Once told, it is loose in the world.  So is Evil.


On Story Telling 

Story telling is empowering and intimidating at the same time.

It empowers because I am sketching out a little piece of the world to the audience; who are in captivity.  Orality makes me hyper-aware of voice, tone, and non-verbal communication.  There are no punctuation (!), bolding, or proofreading.  Just me telling the story the best I know how.

And oh the intimidation!  It comes from the stress of trying to tell the story “right” and interaction with the audience.  Comments and questions from the audience had me thinking about the story and story telling in general.


“Why would the crow leave?  What’s out there for him?”

“Why wouldn’t the crow leave?  His family is wiped out.”

“It will be darker if the crow had to push his mother out of the nest, because he couldn’t gather enough food for two.”

The very last remark left me in awe.  It humbled me.  That is one nature of story telling?  Once it is out there, it has its own life.  It is under no one’s control; not even that of the author.