POETIC PUZZLING

POETIC PUZZLING

What is The Water Mage’s Daughter? Well, it’s an epic poem in English, yes. And sure, it features thousands of rhymes in different schemes. But along with telling a killer story, it’s also a very cool word puzzle. How? Well, by the time you’ve reached page 347, you’ve read heroic couplets and quatrains in Canticles I and II. They’re fun. Canticle III, however, which up until now has featured “whorls” that rhyme from the outside in, throws out some fresh craziness with words. Here’s the spot in the text where I offer the puzzle:

First, through free verse our tale will wend,

Then back to couplets t’ward the end,

Yet each end-word shall kiss a mate

Somewhere––that’s if you take the bait

And feed on fancy, that old stuff

We love…

In other words, every end-word in the canto (chapter) will rhyme with another end-word somewhere. It may be pretty far away, but it’s in there. So if you’re into word puzzles, this makes for an amusing hunt.

It’s not until 60 pages later that the poem modulates completely back to couplets and stays there.

–Odds Bodkin

STORYTELLING LOVERS DISCOVER THE EPIC DRIVE

STORYTELLING LOVERS DISCOVER THE EPIC DRIVE

Fans of storytelling have discovered Odds Bodkin’s EPIC DRIVE, the product that contains all this master storyteller’s musical spoken-word works. From adventure epics to titles for young children, the flash drive, loaded with mp3s and cover art, arrives in the mail. Plug it in and load eighteen widely varying titles, from The Odyssey for teens to The Little Proto Trilogy for young kids.

Meaningful, ethical stories with a plus: original music, character voices and vivid vocal effects!

Support creativity and mental health in your family by listening together and discussing these classic stories. Kids never forget. Get yours today.

THE EPIC DRIVE: All Odds Bodkin’s Stories!

“THE BEST ANTI-BULLYING ASSEMBLY WE’VE EVER HAD, HANDS-DOWN”

“THE BEST ANTI-BULLYING ASSEMBLY WE’VE EVER HAD, HANDS-DOWN”

A school principal wrote me recently, commenting on GOLDEN RULE, my storytelling assembly for elementary kids. Sure, I tell stories for adults, but it’s close to my heart, this empathy issue. Kids raised without notions of civility and simple human kindness toward others––no matter what somebody else looks like or where they come from––just makes the bullies feel that power. In the long run, though, it hurts them just as much.

Although many Americans follow faith traditions, just as many don’t these days, and with that change has come a loss of religious teaching stories, traditionally told to kids by adults in their lives. In their absence and in the presence of cynical cartoons and visual games, the fabric of civility has worn thin in lots of children. It’s not their fault. They’re kids. They’re not born civil; they need to be taught why it’s important.

Be kind. Treat others honorably. Yes, you can say those things to kids, but nothing penetrates the cruelty they see in media like a spoken-world story told by an adult. Instead of saying “do this,” a good Golden Rule story simply offers a lesson about power and its uses. Kids can’t help but internalize its impact because they’ve been opened up. They’ve been opened up because their minds are overwhelmed. The boys. The girls. The ADHD kids, all attentive. With the voices, music and wild sounds, the storytelling is too evanescent for them to ignore.

At a public school in Massachusetts the other day, my young audience looked like the United Nations. Kids from everywhere. Never knowing what religions, if any, their families practice at home, I tell stories from non-religious wisdom traditions. Folktales from Japan, Ireland, Africa, India and Italy. And Aesop’s Fables from ancient Greece, which is about all I can fit into an hour. But I always ask the kids the same questions about them afterwards, and about the Golden Rule.

And if they’ve never heard “Treat others the way you would like to be treated” before they’ve attended a GOLDEN RULE assembly, they certainly know it by the time it’s over.

If kids don’t get these kinds of stories from adults in America when they’re young, stories that buoy up their best angels and sink into their souls, when they get to high school, more and more of them are so fragile and full of violence that they misuse their power and end up thinking it’s okay to bring guns to class, and all to often these days, in the ultimate act of bullying, to use them.

 

–Odds Bodkin

 

 

THE BIRD IN THE GOLDEN CAGE: A Storytelling Experiment from Odds Bodkin’s Workshop

THE BIRD IN THE GOLDEN CAGE: A Storytelling Experiment from Odds Bodkin’s Workshop.

The experiment begins with a vivid memory: the room where you sleep at night. As a very familiar place, most people carry detailed visuals of it, even if they don’t think about it often. The bedclothes, the closet and drawers, what’s outside the window on a summer day and how that sounds. Even how the screen smells if you press your nose against it.

All this suggested visualizing among participants takes place while listening to 12-string guitar music––not a song, more like colorful splashes of emotion. Combined with the story, the result is a musico-literary doorway to imagination. Imagining begins when a small sphere of blue light appears above the bed in your room. Eventually you journey into it, imagining yourself in a bird’s body in a golden cage, then seas, caves, clear fruits in various flavors and a multitude of other opportunities to discover your Five Sensory Imaginations.

For the storyteller, these are your paints. The more you practice, the more the door to them opens into a creative state. Telling your story is simply describing that state by using those paints.

Just one cognitive experiment among many in Odds Bodkin’s weekend workshop in Colorado this coming May, The Bird in the Golden Cage doesn’t talk about using the mind’s eye, it experientially draws you into it. It’s instinctual.

If you’ve ever wanted to learn to tell stories in your own voice, here’s a chance to study with a master. No music required, or experience. Just a willingness to experiment with your mind. Based on Odds Bodkin’s graduate courses and workshops conducted worldwide.

On May 26-27, 2018 at Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, CO, Odds will be offering his weekend workshop in storytelling for beginners to experienced tellers. You’ll also learn the secrets of ancient tree lore. Space is limited, so plan your weekend now!

 

 

 

THE MUSE APPROACH TO STORYTELLING

THE MUSE APPROACH TO STORYTELLING

Seven years of teaching adult grad students how to tell stories at Antioch in New England showed me one thing: if they can locate their Muse, they’re golden. I’ve seen it many times. Given a few lines of story on a slip of paper––a folkloric fragment from somewhere in the middle of a tale they’ve never read––students often end up telling a 45-minute long original tale, crafting origins and endings. No kidding. It’s as if an acorn sprouted and instantly grew into an oak

It’s a glorious act to watch. How, without rehearsal and in their own words, they enter the image-rich Muse in their minds and become like jazz musicians of story, making it up as they go along.

The Muse, least Calliope, the Muse of Eloquence as the ancient Greeks thought of it, is a fusion of imagination and a certain kind of memory called “event memory.” Once you learn how to summon it, what James Joyce called “the smithy of the soul” fires up and off you go.

This coming May 25-27 I’ll be offering a full weekend workshop in storytelling in Colorado. Along with its emphasis on ancient tree lore, it provides a step-by-step process for Muse discovery.

Registration is limited to 30.

Details are here.

PERFORMANCES and a STORYTELLING WORKSHOP in COLORADO/ May 2018

Thanks to Courtney Herrera, a dynamic herbologist in Colorado, I’ll be returning to the Mountain State this May 25-27 to visit Sunrise Ranch in Loveland for two storytelling concerts and a how-to storytelling workshop. Open to the public, tickets are now on sale.

First, COME, CHILD AND SIT WITH ME BENEATH THE WISDOM TREE, a Friday evening performance for families. Kids of any age are welcome. The theme of the overall weekend is our mythic and sacral relationship with trees down through the millennia. The show starts at 7 p.m. and details and tickets are here.

On Saturday night it’s THOR AND ODIN BATTLE THE FROST GIANTS, two immense Viking myths (the real deal, not Marvel) with little-known Viking lore that has fascinated the wonderful adult audiences I’ve had lately on Harvard Square. Tickets are here.

If you know anyone in Colorado who’d like to learn to tell stories (it doesn’t matter what kind) freely and creatively, then let them know about ANCIENT TREE MAGIC AND LORE: A TWO-DAY STORYTELLING WORKSHOP FOR ADULTS. I’ll be spending eight hours during Saturday and Sunday sharing this version of THE DOOR TO IMAGINATION: HOW TO AWAKEN YOUR INNER STORYTELLER, my course about discovering your Muse. Details and tickets here.

All these events I’ll fill with live music on Celtic harp, 12-string guitar and other instruments. The Muses will be at work. I’ll be playing a Celtic harp donated by Dave Kolocny of Kolocny Music in Denver. For years Dave has graciously given me a harp to use while out West.

Sunrise Ranch is a glorious spiritual retreat center with stunning physical beauty, great food and a host of caring folks.

Please let your Colorado friends know about these upcoming events!

 

 

 

Vivid Adventures that Build Imagination

Imagine a family vacation where the kids in the back are listening, instead of viewing. For ages 4 to forever. Odds Bodkin’s fun, amazing storytellings!

Vivid adventures that build imagination.

Two ways to get the full collection.

THE EPIC DRIVE

ALL COLLECTIONS + BUNDLE (instant delivery)

 

All Collections + Bundle

 

BOOKING NOW: World Stories About Empathy for Schoolchildren

I read countless news reports about kids treating one another badly in schools. Lately, it appears, things have grown worse. Telling kids how to behave is less effective than it’s ever been, it seems.

For some years now I’ve offered a school assembly program called GOLDEN RULE: World Stories About Empathy in two versions, K-3 and 3-5. Using ancient stories from world cultures, GOLDEN RULE taps the unconscious in kids and delivers a message while they’re completely entertained and having fun.

One principal called it “The best anti-bullying program we’ve ever had, hands down.”

If you know any schools who are facing this problem, find out about GOLDEN RULE and pass the word along.

–Odds Bodkin

Letter from an Educator, a Young Man in an American School

Mr. Bodkin,

Thank you so much for the consideration and time to send this to me. Like your impact on myself and many people who have heard your stories, this means more than you know.

This is my fifth year teaching The Odyssey in my curriculum, and at the end of class, when I play your stories, I can see the scenes flash across my students’ faces as they listen. Ironically, many of my students have had troubled pasts and special needs, but I rarely see them so at peace as when we hear your tales. They’ll work their tales (sic) off to ensure that we get a daily dose of storytelling at the end of each period.

The demand has been so high, that I’ve had to find a way to cram some passages from The Iliad into the curriculum after the break (a quality problem for an educator to have)…and I think we’ll just have to do a Beowulf unit with some of the Sophomores.

I’m humbled and thankful to have received this help from you during such a busy time. I know many of your fans will be eagerly awaiting the chance to read your book!

Merry Christmas, and thank you so much once again,

-Peter R. Best

ROBOT-PROOFING TODAY’S KIDS

Upwards of 50% of jobs are slated for replacement over the next decades, at least in the West, thanks to robots with AI, Artificial Intelligence. Soon there will be autonomous trucks with no truck drivers inside them. Where are the truckers going to go? Soon, I imagine, my UPS truck will back into my driveway and some buzzing drone will emerge from it to deposit my package on the porch.

I’ll miss my UPS man. Where will he go? How will he support his family?

In Bangalore, India, endless droves of hopeful young people arrive every day to work in tech. They sit in cubicles and try to learn American English. What will happen to all of them and their upwardly mobile dreams when AI is so smart that it can understand any question, speak with a Midwest accent and make the sale without a human involved? All those cubicles will empty out. Do those young people head back to the impoverished countryside they happily escaped? If they refuse to go, are they given a permanent stipend simply for existing? No work, but enough money to stay on in Bangalore, go to restaurants and eventually raise kids? And if there is no stipend, what are the implications? Will those former workers, now hungry, dispirited and homeless, sit back and take it?

The whole thing is a formula for disaster and increasing street revolutions, if you ask me.  Why is the U.S. suffering from our current opioid epidemic? If you can’t find a job and have no hope for the future, you might as well get high and forget your daily misery. It doesn’t help that big pharma dumps millions of pills into already economically depressed regions to rake in those incredibly ugly dollars.

Now, with AI on the way, prepare for that basic candidate pool of unemployed and hopeless folks to grow even larger.

However, 50% of the jobs will be left, supposedly. To compete for them, what do American students need to learn?

In his 2017 book Robot-Proof, Northeastern University president Joseph Aoun says that what’s most important is to educate college students to invent, to create and to discover, not to fill their minds with facts. In other words, to end up creative and flexible enough to find something to do in life that even the cleverest AI can’t figure out.

That calls to mind a famous quote from Albert Einstein.

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”

Someone Who Loves Me Just Sent Me a Bag of Magic Coins!

The bag of Magic Coins arrives as an email from the Head Gnome. In the email is a gift message from a certain someone who loves you, so you know who asked the Head Gnome to send it.

Magic Coins? Sent by the Head Gnome?

What’s this?

Read on and find a link to the secure https site of Odds Bodkin the Storyteller. And in your email there’s mysterious number. A unique numerical code.

Click on the link and you’re at Odds Bodkin’s Shop, a treasure trove of stories to listen to and imagine. Award-winning stories. Funny. Charming. Scary. Moving.

If you’re a kid, you soon discover that they are mesmerizing, too.

Fill your cart with titles and proceed to checkout. How do you pay? Just type in your Magic Coins code and discover that your coins are worth more than ordinary dollars. The more Magic Coins in your bag, the more you can buy.

You save on everything. You get great stories.

And you’ve been given a gift by that certain someone who loves you.

Teens and “The Cauldron of Stimulus”: A Storyteller’s View

From a recent Susanna Schrobsdorff Time article, Teen Depression and Anxiety: Why the Kids Are Not Alright:

“If you wanted to create an environment to churn out really angsty people, we’ve done it,” says Janis Whitlock, director of the Cornell Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery. Sure, parental micromanaging can be a factor, as can school stress, but Whitlock doesn’t think those things are the main drivers of this epidemic. “It’s that they’re in a cauldron of stimulus they can’t get away from, or don’t want to get away from, or don’t know how to get away from,” she says.

In my life I meet families all the time whose kids have grown up with my audio stories. At some point the parents found them in this wild, busy world and exposed their children to them during their formative years. For instance, I just met Stephanie from Pennsylvania, a great mom who invited me to perform there a couple of weeks ago. Afterwards she wrote me a kind letter, part of which said,

“I am proud that in our modern age, your stories played a large role in my children’s lives for several years. I can’t remember if I told you that for years we imitated the saluting bedbugs, or that we created an elaborate drip-sand castle and forest at the beach for the lovely Bargaglina after listening to The Little Shepherd on the way to Cape May Point. And of course you know about the Odyssey on the way to the Bay of Fundy. Your stories were such a gift to my kids’ development!”

So maybe part of the cure for kids going off the rails is mythic storytelling. Old tales, filled with the struggles of men and women who are long gone but whose stories tell us that yes, life is rugged and has its dark times, but heroes are people who overcome those obstacles because they never give up. People who are driven by love or honor or just the deep motivation to survive.

And that’s just the story part. The other healthful factor is imagination itself, the natural sort our minds are capable of. When we imagine, endorphins are released into the bloodstream, much like a runner’s high. The cerebral cortex lights up like a fire, drawing on memories and feelings from deep inside, rather than stimulus from that social media cauldron beyond ourselves. It’s a creative act, and quite refreshing. Imagination in childhood becomes creativity in adulthood, and we live in times when creativity and adaptability are premium skills. If there’s one thing young people can count on in their futures these days, it’s rapid change. Unpredictable change.

For younger kids, fairytales operate in the same beneficial way. The Little Shepherd is one I just performed for three hundred K-2 public school kids last week. For twenty-five minutes they sat, still and quiet, for this longest story in the show, all of them lost in fantasy. What’s the value of that? Well, as Bruno Bettelheim wrote in The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairytales, “While the fantasy is unreal, the good feelings it gives us about ourselves and our future are real, and these good feelings are what we need to sustain us.”