Friday, November 23, 2012

Clarella's Devils

The 10 gold sovereigns disappeared quickly into the witch’s pouch, but these were desperate times. Horace and Matilde craved a child to chase away their despair, which hung from their shoe leather as they dragged themselves through life.

The witch offered them the potion, which simmered in a stained brass cup. Closing her eyes, Matilde whispered a dark promise and drank the bitter liquid, while Horace clung to her and wept.
Nine months to the day, as the crows darkened the sky and filled the night’s silence with their broken songs, Clarella took her first breath and screamed.

As her parents doted on her, Clarella’s eyes were always darting, staring, and then looking away in alarm. Horace always dismissed it and insisted that she would eventually settle down, but he would never truly know how wrong he was.

Clarella knew they were nearby, always watching with those piercing white eyes, so she gave them names. “Hello Griff,” she waved as the demon rounded the corner, dragging its claws along the wall. Griff growled, its grin glinting in the sunlight, and sank into the carpet with a light hiss.

-- JD Hickey, November 2012

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Les Mensonges Delicieux

I really need to tell more stories in French. I really, really do. In Quebec, there are just more opportunities to tell if I start telling in French and, if I play my cards right, I could become the Jim Corcoran of storytelling.

So a few months ago, André Lemelin asked me to take part in an evening of storytelling at the Maison de la culture de Villeray, Saint-Michel, Parc-Extension. It was a small crowd, but the stage was very nice. I was honored to share the stage with André Lemelin, Patti Warnock, Bernard Antoun, and Jacques Pasquet.

Unfortunately, the show was not being recorded. But at the last minute, I decided to try the recording app on my phone so I would at least have a record of it. It turns out, the recording quality wasn't so bad!

When I rehearsed this story, I had it all down perfectly. But of course, the presence of an audience and a microphone challenged my composure, so my telling isn't as smooth as I would have liked it to me. I really need more practice telling in French, and I need to slow my pacing down so I can mentally prepare to say each sentence properly so I don't auto-correct so much. Practice, practice: that's how you get to Carnegie Hall.

So with just a bit of editing for sound quality, here's the recording from that night.

Les Mensonges Delicieux (7:34) told by JD Hickey

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Story: Zahir and the Well

Back in 2009, during the Festival Internationale du Conte du Quebec, I went to see Alan Shain and Kim Kilpatrick tell stories at the Westmount Library. Alan told a story that I found especially moving and I suddenly remembered it this past spring. I hunted about for the story and found several different versions, and my memory of Alan's story was pretty spotty, so I reconstructed the story as best as I could.

I contacted Alan in the spring and asked if I could retell his story. He said that he and Kim had reconstructed the story from the traditional Sufi story called Half Boy, but as long as I gave he and Kim credit, that should be fine. Thank you Alan and Kim!

This past week, I was performing at Kuper Academy High School in Kirkland, Quebec. I managed to record 3 of the 4 shows (the recording application crashed on one of the shows), so here's my recording of Zahir and the Well. I'm telling it to a class room of 12-13 year old kids who were very quiet during the show and very loud at the end.

I'd also like to dedicate this story to my friend Brynn who told me she was very moved by this tale when I told it for the first time in August 2012.

Zahir and the Well (5:13) told by JD Hickey
Copyright© 2010 John David Hickey