Huge storytelling happening in Tucson this weekend!

Huge story happenings, this weekend!


This year the Tucson Meet Yourself Festival is expanding dramatically, and I’m coordinating for them a brand new area in the TCC plaza, outside the Tucson Music Hall, dedicated solely to storytelling and the narrative traditions of Tucson’s living cultures.  There will be a stage set up like a Southwestern living room for a wide range of performances.  Adjacent to this area festival attendees can participate in a version of the sobremesa tradition by gathering around tables to share stories of their own on particular themes. (Sobremesa, according to Google Translate, is after dinner table-talk.)


Come out to hear the tales:


Tellers include Big Jim Griffith (founder of the festival and Tucson legend), Jordan Hill (Jewish stories and Tucson ghost lore), Sheila Patteson (Irish tales), Marc Severson (stories of life in Tucson), Anne Lee (Slavic stories), Jean Baxter (stories from Tucson’s early days), Tucson teens from VOICES and Tucson Hebrew Academy (tales of living young in Tucson), and youth from the Singing Bird Sangha (Buddhist stories).


Come out to tell tales of your own:


Facilitators of the sobremesas include Odyssey Storytelling, the UA Creative Writing Club, Rabbi Stephanie Aaron, and more.  Topics range from food, love, injuries, and holidays to immigration, religious experiences, and encounters with Tucson ghosts and wildlife (of all kinds).


Come out and be a part of an exciting and profound new way for Tucson to truly meet itself!  The Festival will be in downtown Tucson this coming Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.


See and for schedules.


See you there amidst blossoming stories!



Musical Stories and Multimedia Storytelling

Last night I was in Tempe (Phoenix) doing my favorite kind of storytelling—Sacred Storytelling.  The occasion was the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, which focuses (amongst many things) on the revelation at Mt. Sinai.  I mined my repertoire for some wonderful, applicable stories and also found some tremendously beautiful new stories.  But I also found something else to add to the storytelling—video clips, pictures, animations…  Indeed, last night was my first major adventure in live multimedia storytelling.  And it was wonderful!

To mark the occasion, I thought if fitting to share another form of multimedia storytelling, one of my favorites—the ancient tradition of stories expressed through song (and to further multiply the “multi” of this multimedia, I’ll share some such songs with you in a video format).

For some years now I’ve harbored in my heart a small collection of my favorite story songs.  While I’d been meaning to add my little gust of wind to their already full sails as they traverse the virtual and cultural oceans, it took the discovery of a stunningly gorgeous (and haunting—perhaps my favorite kind of gorgeous) story song to give me the impetus to do so.  And it is this:  a video of Sinéad O’Connor singing “She moved through the Fair.”

Now, please allow me to introduce you to the rest of these lovely jewels…

There’s a legend from the borderlands of Scotland and England about Tam Lin, a knight who was taken as a servant by the Fairy Queen, and Janet, the bold young woman who freed him.  The English folk rock band, Fairport Convention, takes this story in ballad form and does a tremendous rendition of it (though to really follow, you might want to read a prose version of the story first:

Cutting across the Atlantic, but staying to the north, there’s a Canadian legend of a mighty wood-cutter named Sandy Gray.  Slaid Cleaves, a singer songwriter from Austin, put it into a song form that I’ve adored since the day I heard it.  Here’s a video of him performing it live (and the story and lyrics should be quite clear):

Back to the Celtic world, the band Cuillin recorded this ballad of the Witch of the West Mer Lands.  It’s been such a favorite of mine that I set it as the background music to a slideshow of some storytelling pics of mine:

Finally, an old love…  Junior high English class wasn’t exactly the most mind-blowing experience, but reading Alfred Noyes’ famous poem “The Highwayman” was.  And, oh, how much more so when I heard Loreena McKennitt’s version of it!  Now, your turn:


Do you have any favorite story songs?  Let’s hear them!

Awesome on-line story resource

The other night I found myself at the very awesome Tucson Freedom Seder (bringing together hundreds of people from numerous different communities), dressed up like Elijah and telling a story attributed to him (and many others from different cultures as well, for that matter).  Afterwards someone attending the seder asked for a written version of the story, so I went on a brief on-line hunt, and what I found blew me away.  For not only did I find the story itself, but in the finding I also discovered an incredible new on-line resource for stories!  Well, perhaps not new in an absolute sense, but new for me.

It’s the Google Booksearch!  Do you know of it?  You can search through thousands and thousands of books, and many of them have a “preview” option that lets you “flip” through chunks of consecutive pages—enough of a chunk to contain a great many folktales, it seems.

For instance, one of my very first sources of stories upon becoming a storyteller was a book edited by Jane Yolen called “Favorite Folktales from around the World.”  I checked it out from the Richardson public library, copied some of my favorite stories from it, and am still telling many of those stories today, seven years later (in fact, there were stories I copied then that I’m only just now adding to my repertoire—and truly just now, since today I told one of those folktales for the first time publicly at El Rio Community Center in West Tucson).  And voila, here is the book, online:,M1

Click the forward button and you get to the index:,M1

You’ll find the vast majority of the stories listed in the index as links, so you just click and go.  Amazing!

Looking for more stories?  Just go to and search for folktales (or legends, or myths, or anything really).  Under the blurb of each of the books that show up, it’ll tell you if the title has “no preview,” “limited preview,” or “full view.”

Oh my, the internet…  how my heart grows faint in its presence.

Well, while we’re at it, here are two new resources for stories I’ve recently found:

(I hope to add some stories up there myself, when I get around to it)

Have at it!

Finger-puppets, TV storytelling, and the Biosphere, oh my!!

Lots of storytelling firsts for me these last few days, and some busy storytelling days they’ve been. First, I kicked off Thursday morning with three preschool performances in which I used finger-puppets in my storytelling for the first time! I know this is likely not too shocking to any of ye readers, but those of you who know my deep dark past know that part of that deep dark past is a deep dark (and massive) collection of finger-puppets—started when I was 8 and continuing to this day. Given the fact that I’m a storyteller and have so many finger puppets, it’s strange that it’s taken me all these years to incorporate them. But incorporate them I did, amidst the silent fanfare of wide preschool eyes (and enthralled silence from preschoolers is the best kind of fanfare a storyteller can ask for).

The day progressed to night, and Thursday evening I found myself again in a TV studio—the last time it was for biodiesel, while this time it was for storytelling. Yes, my first storytelling TV feature. Granted it was on Tucson Access TV, so no Daily Show appearances for me in the foreseeable future (yet), but it was a fantastic 50 minutes of storytelling and passionate discussions on the power of story and the imagination. I’ll be looking through the video and, if I like what I’ll see, I’ll be posting segments on-line.

Then, last night… I looked around me… On my left stood the bizarrely sci-fi Biosphere 2, behind me rose the majestic Santa Catalina mountains, above me spanned the glorious night sky of the Sonoran Desert, and before me was assembled a host of science teachers from all over Arizona, to whom I was telling astronomy stories from all around the world. Bizarre and beautiful—just the way I like it. Luckily, Autumn (my wife) was there as well, recording the performance. Again, depending on how I like what I hear when I re-listen, I may soon post some stories from last night as a podcast.

Stay tuned for more stories, and more lovely weirdness…

Updates to the website, a huge new beginning, and a request for some pioneering…

Check out my new “Watch & Listen” page!  I’ve changed it around some, added new audio stories, and posted a new video/slideshow (keep your ears open to the lyrics of the background song and how they fit storytelling).

In other news, this past weekend marked a beginning for which I’ve been waiting a long while.  For some time I’ve wanted to combine electronic psytrance music with storytelling (mythotrance, as I call it), but to really do it right I needed to find a producer/DJ who was down to join me on a wild ride of exploration, work, and play through this rather crazy (and rather profound) arts interface.  It seems to have finally happened!  Who knows how it’ll all turn out in the end, but my friend Greg and I had an amazing opening mythotrance session on Saturday night, and the process has begun!!!

Well some of you may have noticed that under the “experimental” section of my website, there’s an early attempt at mythotrance on my part.  I’d love it if you’d take a listen to it and give me some feedback, as the cross-genre offspring of mythotrance is in a completely formative stage and any ideas/inspirations/reactions you can offer would go a long way in shaping this new artform.

Rolling right along…

Jordan in the news!

The Arizona Jewish Post just ran a full page article on me and my storytelling.  Very nice!

How it begins…

I’ve been blogging of late via my facebook fan page (Jordan Hill, Storyteller).  But why not blog via my website as well?  Huh?  Huh?

That’s what I thought.

So I’ll begin this beginning with a few recent blog entries, listed below.  One is on “narrative medicine,” another on videogames and storytelling, and one on my new podcasts.  Partake and be merry…

video games and storytelling

I guess just about anything involving communication can be seen as storytelling, when you think about it (or at least, when you twist your thoughts around sufficiently). I was just in Phoenix on Friday, and amidst all sorts of meetings and seeing an AWESOME storyteller (Donna Washington) at the South Mountain Community College Storytelling Institute (that’s right, a storytelling institute in Phoenix), I had a chance to hang out with a fellow young-male-storyteller (a rare species). His name’s Dustin, and he tells stories with his feet, as a dancer (

I simply mean this as an introduction to a far more obvious modern venue for storytelling– the video game! I remember writing an essay in 10th grade for some book/reading award/scholarship/somethin

g-or-other. For some reason, there was a part in the essay in which I wrote about how much I enjoyed video games, for rather than being beholden in a book to the story presented by an author, video games allow for certain extra freedoms of active engagement with the story. My English teacher at the time astutely recommended that I change that section around so as not to be touting video games over books in an application for a book award…

Even then, I probably read far more books than I played video games. And now I’m a complete video game loser. Not in the traditional sense, of “a loser who plays video games”; rather, “a loser at playing video games.” Yes, I’m still in the middle of a game that I started playing 7 years ago, and in which I make little bursts of progress when I come back to it every year or two. Abysmal…

BUT, I’m newly inspired! Thanks to this truly wonderful (and wonderfully done) youtube video I just came across about storytelling (and its discontents) in the world of video games:

Any video game producers out there need a good storyteller????

For all you doctors, med students, storytellers, and humans…

So today I made it to an AMAZING lecture at the UA med. school on narrative medicine. Narrative medicine? Yes, narrative medicine. Medicine meets storytelling! Or to be precise:

“Narrative Medicine connotes a medicine practiced with narrative competence and marked with an understanding of the highly complex narrative situations among doctors, patients, colleagues, and the public.” -Dr. Charon, founder of the brand new Columbia University masters program in narrative medicine! (did you catch that– Columbia offers a masters in narrative medicine!)

In my own words–it’s medicine that recognizes the huge role that stories play in the health-care field, in so many ways: the stories that patients tell themselves about their life, their health, their illness; the stories they tell doctors about themselves; the impact patient stories have on doctors; the stories doctors tell patients about an illness, their condition, their prognosis, etc.; the impact stories can have on making sense of illness, and the very real physiological impact of mindset/attitude/stress, which can shift if a patient’s story shifts; and on and on and on…

A good example of this is a study right here in Tucson, at the U of A, on “Storytelling to Promote Colorectal Screening in Primary Care Clinics”: for the abstract-,108,553,0,html/Storytelling-to-Promote-Colorectal-Screening-in-Primary-Care-Clinics-NCI

[nothing quite like colo-rectal storytelling, right?]

One really awesome take-away point from the talk was that neuro-imaging studies have discovered that the form of communication that “lights up the brain” the most is communication via metaphor. Brilliant! (Though I must add that I haven’t personally checked out the studies the speaker was referring to, so who knows…)

Wanting more info? Check out:


podcasting ready to roll

Podcasts of my storytelling are ready to go! Starting this Thursday, I’ll be posting a new audio story every week for your listening pleasure (free of course). Either sign up (very easily) to receive an e-mail when a new story is added, or else subscribe so that your computer will automatically download each new story as an mp3 when you go online. The stories (which right now are all traditional Jewish tales) will also be put up on my website.

To sign up or subscribe, go to:

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