Oral Tradition: MA Stories Continued

Derek Anderson, Host

Tom Woodward speaking at MA LItFest

Yesterday’s Oral Tradition: MA Stories was my first. I had heard about it in previous years; heard the tales commented on by teachers and students, heard the personal histories resonate into our community, and listened as the stories were re-told over lunch. For the last two years I had missed this MA event, and this year I was definitely glad I went.

Derek Anderson, librarian and archivist was the master of ceremonies and introduced Tom Woodward, Jenny Rosenberg, Dave Marshall, John Kelly (Class of 1986), Jon Bretan, and Liz Gottlieb. Each told of an event that helped shape them, something which changed how they think about the world—if sometimes only a little bit.

Tom spoke of getting lost in the snow with a class of students, Jon told of his Sensei Mr. Ito and how martial arts have informed his teaching, Dave of exploring the Amazon with a guide younger than he, Kelly recounted how he lost his engagement ring while onstage at Dickens Fair, and Jenny and Liz both spoke of two different animals’ last few minutes on this earth.

What struck me as I listened to how these people I knew were impacted by life in surprising ways, was how honest each was in their telling, the authenticity of their voices, and how I left knowing each of these story-tellers a little better than before. And I think, that at least for me, that is why so many people love going to this session of Marin Academy’s LitFest: they are given a gift for simply being there and listening. Nothing is expected afterwards, no quizzes are given, no immediate stories are requested in barter, you just have to be there. And while no two story-tellers were the same (not even in the way they told stories—some were linear narratives, others meandered) each was generous and true.

I plan on going to this event next year. I look forward to new stories, new surprising perspectives, and perhaps will share one of my own—or perhaps I’ll be lucky enough to hear one of yours.

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