Don’t count the presenters at Monday’s Story Slam event among those afflicted.
On stage at the Roswell Cultural Arts Center, Assistant Director of Recreation and Parks Morgan Rodgers recounted waiting for the afternoon train in his youth. The conductor would periodically toss bags of candy to him. At summer’s end, he threw Rodgers, then 9-years-old, a paper sack. Inside was a note from the retiring engineer, who wanted to thank him for smiling and waving at him. Roswell resident Jo Sanders talked about being detained in Cairo for 10 hours. “The USA, this is the best place to live,” she said after being freed.
Despite vowing to never leave American soil, she said she was traveling abroad six months later — “but not back to Egypt.”
Ron Kemp, a member of the Southern Order of Storytellers, spoke about trying to find the thermostat in a chilly Alexander City, Ala., inn. “Needless to say, it was not a four-star hotel,” the baseball-bedecked orator said.
“Story Slam is a monthly, competitive storytelling series,” said Roswell Cultural Arts Center Coordinator Sarah Chandler. “It’s an opportunity for amateur and professional storytellers to share true stories in five minute or less, based on the theme of the evening.”
Chandler hand-selected each topic, with each event usually tied to a seasonal theme. “July is ‘Freedom’ and August is ‘School Ties,’ because school is starting back,” she said.
At each event, attendees can nominate themselves to be either a judge or a presenter. Three judges and 10 speakers are then selected at random.
Chandler said the event was inspired by avant-garde troupes like New York’s The Moth. The highlight of last month’s inaugural slam, she said, was seeing the event draw a diverse crowd.
“We had people from the age of 20 to 85,” Chandler said. “It was a small event, 40 to 50 people, but seeing the community that was there … everybody was onboard to connect and listen.”
Mary Apps, an 86-year-old Roswell resident, came in third. “I love to use the language,” she said. “It keeps my mind flexible, learning something new all the time.”
First place went to Atlanta’s Rob Cleveland. His story was about his first car, a Chevy Vega.
“It feels good up there,” he said. “It was nice to hear all the different aspects of the stories.”
Host Daniel Bastian said the event is a great way to build community. “It’s the kind of event you more associate with midtown Atlanta,” he said. “It’s nice to see something like this in north Fulton.”
Live music precedes each slam and a bar is open to attendees 21 and older. “The environment is such that you can observe, laugh and potentially cry,” Chandler said, “and just enjoy being in an environment with people.”
The next slam will be Aug 18. Information on upcoming events can be found at www.roswellgov.com/index.aspx?NID=1867.