The Page a Day Writers Group

Cheers to Stories on a String

Posted on: January 4, 2011

Great ideas swirling in the ether- just grab one and write it down. Or harness it to a string and set it free. In Brazil, the age-old tradition of “Stories on a String,” literatura de cordel, remains a living force of creativity. I learned about this vibrant form of expression in an interview I heard way back in October on NPR with journalist Annie Murphy. It still haunts me- I find myself thinking, “This would make a great Story on a String.” Read Murphy’s post and listen to the interview here: http://anniemurphy.wordpress.com/2010/10/11/brazils-stories-on-a-string/

Street poets and storytellers write and illustrate their stories (sized to fit into your pocket), secure them like fresh laundry by clothespin to a string, and sell them on the street to passersby. The metaphor of living on a shoestring is not lost, of course. I don’t know how many of these yarnsters are making a living, but they are telling and selling their stories. A tangible product, probably made in the evening and sold the next day- from their hands to yours in a matter of hours. These little informal booklets are still used to teach literacy in some regions. I’d love to go to Brazil just for these precious stories on a string.

I wish all struggling writers well. Let’s keep at it! Maybe someday someone our hats will overflow with sugarplums and lots and lots of clinking doubloons.

I’ve just returned from the Mexican Riviera- Cabo San Lucas, La Paz, and Mazatlan, including the colonial Sierra Madre villages of Copala, Malpica, and Concordia. I didn’t notice anyone selling Stories on a String. Did I harness any stories of my own while en route? Not one, though my eyes and ears were gathering details all the while! Time to start. I can’t quite bring myself to go out and hawk them on the street, though.

Before I say good night, I leave you with “Great Writing You Missed,” from Speakeasy, the Wall Street Journal’s arts section. Part One: http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2010/12/28/great-writing-you-missed-this-year-reading-suggestions-from-chabon-egan-and-others/

Part Two: http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2010/12/29/great-writing-you-missed-this-year-part-2-with-dave-eggers-edmund-morris-and-others/

Good luck and happy writing in the New Year!

Ondine Brooks Kuraoka

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4 Responses to "Cheers to Stories on a String"

What a fun, unique idea. I’ve heard of pocket poetry, but never stories on a string. Thanks once again for opening my vision to a panoramic view of writing.

Sounds like something I could adapt for a classroom setting! Great article! Thanks, and Happy New Year!

What a great idea, Juliet! Yes, this is ideal for a classroom “story bazaar.” Happy New Year!

Howdy! I could have sworn I’ve been to this site before but after checking through some
of the post I realized it’s new to me. Nonetheless, I’m definitely delighted I found it
and I’ll be bookmarking and checking back often!

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Who are we?

The Page a Day Writers Group is a diverse collection of wonderful writers based in San Diego, CA. We've been meeting monthly since 2004. Our primary function is in-depth writing critique, marketing and brainstorming, but there's usually some wine, chocolate and ribaldry involved too. We write fantasy, humor, literary fiction, nonfiction, romance, thrillers and YA. Join us on our journeys to publication and the wonderland beyond!

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