The podcast of “Jacktown! The Alcatraz of the West!”, our December episode of The Living Room, is posted! The radio story aired on Michigan Radio December 19th. It features interviews I conducted with a former inmate of 33 years, his former corrections officer and the first female psychologist in an all male corrections facility. Earlier in the fall I joined the Jackson Historic Prison tours and stepped inside 7 block, a closed, but fully intact cell block on the Jackson Prison grounds. There I met a series of speakers who were former employees and inmates at Jackson Prison and started to interview them. I was so struck by the power of their stories that I later went to interview them in their homes or offices to get a more in depth picture of life inside Jackson Prison. The 10 minute piece is only the tip of the iceberg, but offers us all much to grateful for in our own lives. If you are interested in the stories, consider buying Lionel Stewart’s book “Quiet Blood” written during his 30 years in prison or Jean Becker Walsh’s book “There’s a Woman in Here!” about her years as the first female psychologist in an all male corrections facility. I host The Living Room and co-produce the storytelling series with Zak Rosen. Thanks for listening!
What a thrill to be performing for MassMouth at Club Passim! I have heard only amazing things about MassMouth, celebrating the “living art of storytelling in Massachusetts” and am so excited to be part of their inaugural program “1st Person Plural” – an evening of long-form storytelling. Then, there’s Club Passim! A songwriter’s dream – the historic folk club graced by Bob Dylan and Joan Baez and some of my favorite folk performers today! If you know anyone in the Boston area – send ‘em our way!
So, 3 years ago this weekend I landed in Jonesborough, Tennessee to immerse myself in the world of storytelling. I spent days sitting mesmerized by masterful tellers. This year I entered the National Storytelling Festival’s 2nd Annual StorySLAM competition by submitting a 2 minute overview of what would have to be a 5 minute story. A committee of judges selected 7 storytellers from all the submissions received between January and August. I am so honored to be one of 7 storytellers to perform this Saturday. From what I hear there will be upwards of 1,000 people there to listen. I don’t expect to win -(wish me luck anyway, though). Even if my story is good, I’m telling a sad story, and in my experience, sad stories rarely if ever win slams. But, I AM aiming to do my very best to authentically share a meaningful story with good people. And, I’m just thrilled to be selected.
I also can’t wait to listen to the other tellers, the slam storytellers, yes, but also the master tellers I love ( Kim Weitkamp, Syd Lieberman, Milbre Burch, Bil Lepp) and the ones I’ve been eager to hear for the first time (Antonio Rocha, Rev. Robert Jones, Minton Sparks, David Novak….)
Off to Story Land!!!
Listen to the PODCAST of the August episode of The Living Room Storytelling Radio series on Michigan Radio. It aired Thursday, August 29th on Michigan Radio‘s daily news show Stateside with Cynthia Canty. This episode features a whimsical end of summer story by my friend, Michigan storyteller and artist, Karen Czarnik. Karen recounts a memorable road trip she took with her kids to Northern Michigan where they invoked the family tradition of swimming in every new body of water. Downey curated this piece and co-produced it with independent media producer, Zak Rosen.
If you listen, please feel free to post your comments on their website or email email@example.com.
The September episode of The Living Room airs Thursday, September 5th, 3-4pm EST; 10-11pm EST on Michigan Radio‘s daily news show Stateside with Cynthia Canty. Airing on the first day of school for many, this episode is dedicated to education. The piece begins with a collage of voices from interviews I conducted with Kalamazoo pre-school and elementary school students the last week of classes this past June. The rest of the episode features a story by Living Room producer Zak Rosen about The James and Grace Lee Boggs School (named after the nationally known authors and activists) that opens in Detroit this week.
Listen on your radio: 91.7 FM /Ann Arbor/ Detroit; 91.1 FM Flint; 104.1 West Michigan; stream live at www.michiganradio.org. Listen to the podcast on the Stateside webpage (http://michiganradio.org/programs/stateside-cynthia-canty) for it the next day, or check back here to my website and the new episodes will be posted after they air.
Hope you enjoy!