June 17, 2005
University of Maine at Fort Kent professor of English, Geraldine Cannon Becker, recently attended The Ninth Annual Cape Breton University Storytelling symposium in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada.
The theme of the symposium was "Storytelling as a bridge to other worlds."
The two day conference started with an evening of casual storytelling that was open to the public. The stories presented were based on a variety of topics with storytelling at the core.
Cannon Becker's presentation, "The Impact of Words: From the Front Porch to the Podium," can best be called a hybrid work, combining an excerpt from a memoir she is currently writing, and a narrative poem she wrote years ago, which tells a story using stereotypes in new ways.
The poem features a "nurturing" father who opens his daughter's eyes to a sad truth in "Telling Time," and the narrative excerpt details the importance of Cannon Becker's storytelling father in her life.
"My father was illiterate but his storytelling skills were unbelievable. If I could only tell a tale half as well, I might do him justice," said Cannon Becker.
A person from the audience stated, "Your father must be proud of you," and Cannon Becker mentioned to the audience that her father was deceased. Another person commented, "the spirit of her ancestors was guiding her."
"The wolf symbol made an appearance many times in the symposium," said Cannon Becker. The Irish name Cannon means 'wolf cub,' and my Cherokee ancestors belonged to the wolf clan. If I listen closely, I may hear the wolf speak.
Professor Janet Kennedy, from the the University of Moncton at Edmundston (UMCE), called the storytelling symposium therapeutic.
Cannon Becker and Kennedy discussed the possibility of working together in the future to create a co-sponsored storytelling symposium with UMFK and UMCE. "The healing power of stories is important, and this idea will be further explored," said Kennedy.
The symposium ended with a featured storyteller, Jim Payne of Newfoundland.
"Nova Scotia is a magical island and I hope to come back again to share more stories and to participate with others, said Cannon Becker. However, there is magic here, where the river meets the hills. There are stories here and she hopes to hear people share some of them."
Currently, Cannon Becker is developing an online literary journal, The Aroostook Review. The journal will accept a variety of work for a first issue, which will be available fall of 2005.
If anyone is interested in accessing the "work in progress" site, log on to http:aroostookreview.umfk.maine.edu/pages/index.htm#top.
Cannon Becker earned a bachelor of arts in English and education (teaching certification) from Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina and a master in fine arts in creative writing and poetry from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
She has been the recipient of the John Ciardi Award, the Kenneth Patchen Award, and the Raymond L. Barnes Award for excellence in poetry at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.
Her work has appeared in journals such as, Nebo, Riverwind, and the Pedestal Magazine online.
Selected poems appear in an electronic publication produced by Expanding Human Consciousness, available on ebrary.com, and Amazon.com. She also presented her work at Seton Hall University, South Orange, New Jersey.
Cannon Becker plans to attend two conferences this fall.