In January, a speaker stood in Noble Kava and told a story of his first time being tall enough to ride a rollercoaster. By the end, the audience was feeling the same joy he felt after accomplishing this feat. This is the power of storytelling, and the creators of Boone Story Slam hope for a community event based on people’s own stories.
Boone Story Slam is a monthly event hosted at Noble Kava with Foggy Pine Books in which storytellers get up on a stage and tell personal stories based on the theme for each month.
Jacey Hale, sophomore philosophy major, created the event in January. The first theme was “Firsts.”
“The Boone Story Slam is actually a riff on a podcast event that I’ve been interested in for a long time,” Hale said. “It’s called ‘The Moth’ and their slogan is ‘Stories told live.’ I became really interested in that concept, and I realized there was nothing quite like this anywhere around here. I decided I wanted to try and create a recurring event like this in Boone.”
Hale said she believes storytelling is a lost art, and that it is a human tradition that has an enormous effect on society.
“Storytelling is a part of human culture as a whole,” Hale said. “It’s a very raw experience, sitting in front of people, looking them in the eye, telling them your personal truths, and them listening to you.”
Storytelling has a deep-rooted history in Appalachia, and the creators of Boone Story Slam said they believe oral tradition played a huge part in building the local community and transforming the area into what it is today.
Mary Ruthless, owner of Foggy Pine Books, said she feels that honoring oral tradition is an important reason for the bookstore’s involvement in Boone Story Slam.
“Stories help establish tradition, develop community and are a template from which we can learn to grow and develop, both as individuals and as a society,” Ruthless said. “Also, sharing stories orally within our community is an Appalachian tradition that we feel is important to stay in touch with and to promote, especially as a southern-focused bookstore.”
Boone Story Slam aims to provide a safe and open space for anyone to share their personal experiences. Anyone who tells a story is received with attentive ears, maybe a few laughs and a definite applause at the end.
Caleb McRorie, senior graphic design major, told a story about breaking up with his first girlfriend when he was 13 years old at February’s “heartburned”-themed event.
“It’s really nice to share personal stories with people that don’t know you or your story,” McRorie said. “It’s a great way to connect with people — telling your experiences to others that would normally not come up in regular conversation.”
Boone Story Slam offers a chance to perform in front of an audience, something most people don’t get the opportunity to do often.
“There is a rush of being on stage and performing for an audience; there’s something exciting about it that’s hard to pin down,” Hale said.
Hale is already seeking ways to expand the story slam’s reach to a greater audience.
“‘The Moth’ also has a podcast, and I think that it’d be really neat to start putting out a podcast based on the stories told at Boone Story Slam,” Hale said. “We could start recording the stories and releasing them on some platform.”
Hale said the goal for the Boone Story Slam is to continue having monthly events, establishing a place for storytellers to practice their craft and fostering relationships within the Boone community through the sharing of personal experiences.
Boone Story Slam happens on the second Saturday of each month at Noble Kava.