Sometimes I hear storytellers “borrow” a tale without credit or simply not know credit should be provided when telling certain kinds of stories. Sometimes, I need a reminder that in order to tell this folktale, personal tale, and/or original tale I need to do a mental ‘check in’ to see if the tale should be told by me. This is not to say it can not, but it is to say, it requires time, dedication and care when deciding. A story is a gift. Has it been given? Does it need to travel? How do we know the answers to these questions? This questions should be considered before sharing the gift of certain stories.
Below is a poem that I wrote to remind me that some stories can be told and some stories should not be told without doing the required homework or securing permissions.
You can’t catch this story.
(For Tersi Bendiburg who reminded me that some stories are not always meant to be caught.)
By Kevin D. Cordi
January 13, 2011
Here is the windup, here is the pitch
Wait. You can’t catch this story.
It belongs to someone else.
It is a tale that has reservation,
A Native tale for a tribe
that you have no ownership.
An African tale told in a sacred circle
A Cuban recount personally rolled like a homemade cigar.
An Appalachian account told in whispers
not meant for public ears.
Another pitch is thrown, but
you can’t catch this one either.
It is a story sacred to someone’s family
A true tale about a sad ordeal
that was meant for the family.
A tale about someone:
A grandfather who worked the mines.
A brother who died of something everyone was told was something else.
A sister who secretly married the one she did not love.
The last pitch is thrown, but again this story
is not meant for you. It is a tale that another has
to a tale someone else labored to find the right words.
You don’t have permission to carry their words.
This story they hold tight to their chest,
close to their hearts.
Why would you stop their heart from hearing it?
Rest easy. This story may not be your story to tell,
but others freely throw out their stories.
Waiting for them to be caught.
Tell these stories. Share them with the rooftops and
short stops. Let them travel because they desire it.
Tell your family tale that you know so well.
Let travel words meant for children that you wrote
so others can hear.
This is your heart tale that beats with each word.
Let the words soar, like a fastball seeking home plate.
Be the pitcher who knows how to hold these stories
and let them go.
Don’t let these stories slip from your grip.
Let them go and be close to your heart when you hear them.
*For those who would like this poem to travel, I give permission for this to be shared but please share the author as well as the site when you do.
Kevin D. Cordi
”Together we make a difference with stories.”
*Note: This poem was inspired by this poem “Story Catching” read it at http://kevincordi.com/blog/2011/02/catching-stories-a-poem/