One of my past students, Nina, has an excellent online magazine, Typesetgroup. She recently asked if I'd like to be interviewed. Yes! The interview is up here. She also just posted a great blog about gathering around a fire and telling tales. It made me think of my secret wish. I'd love to stage a fairy tale boot camp - riding through some mountains, telling fairy tales around a camp fire. A friend and I went riding in Paradise (New Zealand's South Island) last year. It was, yes, a Lord of the Rings ride and she even snatched one of the few horses still working who had appeared in the films. I got the horse who apparently liked to sit in the middle of a bush and scratch his stomach. Thankfully, there's no photographic evidence of the hilarity that ensued. While we rode, we talked about what a great experience this would be for people interested in fantasy and fairy tale. Of course, I suspect the liability issues would do my head in.
But just imagine a horse trek through the Loire Valley, learning about the French fairy tales? I may be getting carried away!
Okay, maybe one day.
I do think it's important not to see literature as a sedentary thing, though, but as something bound up in living and making and creating. As my students know, I happily encourage knitting and needlework etc in the classroom. I respect those who see this as a distraction, but for myself, I know I pay more attention when I have something to do with my hands. I suspect this is why we see so many Mother Gooses at their spinning wheels. Often reading, telling or listening to a tale as your hands work, you discover new nuances that you wouldn't have discovered had you sat in your chair simply reading. Rhythms change.
It's much like telling or listening to a tale. The pace changes. Your attention is taken up in a different way. If you're lucky, you get to hear an author tell their tale and you learn how it sounded in their heads. Even listening to people generally telling tales about their life experience - it was a treat listening to Stephen Fry stand on stage and just tell us, the audience, about things that had happened to him and stuff that mattered to him. These are things that make life good, that create new resonances that we can draw upon to enjoy and understand our experience.