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Papa Joe  ~  Travel Notes

PJ's Travel Notes

From: Papa Joe

To: Storytell

Subject: Tour notes #11

Date: Sunday, June 2, 1997:02 AM


8:30 am, First day of Summer,997 - Hans Christian Anderson Statue, Central Park, New York, NY

Tasha Tripod and I left the cottage last night and spent the night at a rest stop in SW Conn. I wanted to get into the Big Apple before the traffic jams. It worked. :) It's been over twenty years since I've been here at the park. Nothing seems to have changed. It's still an oasis in this metropolis for a forest creature like me.

Philip David, Thank you for getting me this invitation to tell Haitian tales with Diane Wolkstein. I'll share a tale while I await your arrival.

A little over a decade ago, I was a single parent and a full time student struggling to earn a few dollars to pay the rent. An entertainment agent offered me some gigs telling stories at children's parties. To be brief, I began studying storytelling in the USA. What I found at first was nothing like I knew. I was just about to give up on the idea of calling myself a storyteller when my friend, the agent, gave me a copy of Diane's "The Magic Orange Tree and other Haitian Folktales". Folks, if you haven't read the notes between the stories of that book, go and find a copy. I would credit it with my becoming a Storyteller. Those notes paint in the details of storytelling and storytellers. And they match the storytelling traditions I grew up with. Tayzanne! I was hooked.

I rarely tell a story that I've not heard told. I've only heard two of Diane's tales and rarely tell them, but now I must tell something from that book and must tell it in seven minutes or less. Last week I decided on "Cat and Dog and the Return of the Dead". And yes, Storytell. I was inspired by the recent thread on 'Why' stories.

I also decided to detail this experience as I've been discussing the importance of practicing the "Art of Telling" vs the practicing of stories. So here I am, at one of the oldest storytelling venues in the USA (thirty years), waiting to tell one of Diane's stories to Diane, herself, and I've only told it once in my life (last Thursday to my niece and her three little friends).

It's hot and Tasha Tripod wants to go wading in the strange concrete pond with all the strange city dogs. I'll write more after I've met Diane.


6:20 pm, an empty lot somewhere East of Hartford, Conn.

Had to stop and cool off. Blew a tire on Interstate1. Spent an hour making the change. Changing a tire on an RV is nothing like a car, but that's a different story. Tasha is still swimming and playing in the river. I'm drying off.

Diana is just how I imagined. Warm, friendly, and informal. She encourages her audience to stop her with questions and stops the story to explain anytime she thinks there might be a lack of understanding. There is very little polish to her tellings, but the fifty odd New Yorkers and passing tourist love her. It was obvious that she loved them. I suppose that's why she's been coming here to tell for thirty years.

I told "Cat and Dog...". It didn't come out the way I had planned. Some mixture of what I had wanted and what I had read. But again, the focus was bringing the audience to the story, rather than presenting the story to the audience. In case you're wondering, I'll be a featured teller in Central Park next Summer. The moral, for those that want one: It isn't how good the story sounds, but how well a teller shares the story with the listeners that counts. Diana cares more about how the tellers treat her listeners than how polished a story is told.

Diana has a quaint little apartment in Greenwich Village. I gave her and poor Philip David a ride there after the show. Poor Philip David had to sit in the back of the Vardo. It was probably a hundred degrees back there. A cool and quiet lunch in Diana's garden. Yes, a garden. Sues would have loved it. We discuss the community of tellers and the art. Shared some experiences and swapped tapes and books. It was hard to say good-bye, but I've another show in New Hampshire tomorrow and it's a long drive between.

Diana has a new picture book out, "The Banza". ISBN: 0-8037-0428-3. It's short and sweet and I recommend it. I want to share what she wrote to me inside the cover.

June 21, 1997

For Papa Joe,

Commemorating your storytelling at the Statue of HCA.

Here's one more for your repertory to tell in your way.

Wishing you all the best - always - Diana

No request for credit. No strings attached. Just a storyteller sharing stories and hoping the stories live forever.

Pax & Amicitia,

Papa Joe

From the Vardo, on the road, USA


From: Philip David Morgan

To: storytell

Subject: Papa Joes meets Diane Wolkstein (was Re: Tour notes #11)

Date: Sunday, June 22, 1997 9:50 PM

Good Evening, all:

This is a special note to all on STORYTELL, from Diane and me, to thank Papa Joe for his presence yesterday in New York's Central Park...

<snip> Philip David, Thank you for getting me this invitation to tell Haitian tales with Diane Wolkstein. <snap>

And bless you for coming. I'm glad we were able to fulfill your wish.

_The Magic Orange Tree and Other Haitian Folktales_ was republished this past January in a new edition by Random House. So there's no excuse for any Borders or B. Dalton (or any other bookstore for that matter) not to carry it or order it for you. Amazon.com will also get it for you, or you can connect to:


...and do an author's search. It's in there. Or you can get in touch with us at Cloudstone. (We're actually quite friendly.)

<snip> ...So here I am, at one of the oldest storytelling venues in the USA (thirty years), <snap>

Actually, we've had stories at the Statue of Hans Christian Andersen for1 years (this is the st). Diane has been there since967, so this is her third decade in Central Park (her own career has clocked thus far at1 years).

<snip> Diana has a new picture book out, "The Banza". ISBN: 0-8037-0428-3. It's short and sweet and I recommend it. <snap>

Actually, it came out in 1984. The new picture book, _Bouki dances the Kokioko_, will come out this Fall from Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. Those who have the May997 _Storytelling Magazine_ will have a taste of what to expect.

_The Banza_ will be availible for sale at the National Storytelling Festival this October 3-5. I can say that with certainty because Diana and I shipped 40 hardcover copies (40 heavy tigers!) yesterday, along with a sampling of her audio and video work. Or you can get the book from us - but you don't have to buy 40.

BTW, Diana _will_ be telling this coming Saturday June 28. (We weren't really sure two weeks ago. Now we are. Do come if you can.)

The present schedule can be reached at:


Papa Joe, it was really good to meet with you in the Park. Let's hope other brave souls on the list come forward in the years ahead!

Still smiling,

Philip David Morgan

for Diane Wolkstein

and the Cloudstone Family

22 June, 1997




Diane Wolkstein/Regina Ress


10 Patchin Place

New York City, New York011-8342

(NB: Diana will be leaving for Israel on June 29; she'll be back before September 13).


"Forty heavy tigers, forty heavy tigers/Diana ships tigers R A W..."


Papa Joe  ~  Travel Notes

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