Story Swap to weave into the past at Port Angeles Library

Portland, Ore.-based storyteller and singer-songwriter Avery Hill will perform at the free Story Swap at the Port Angeles Library, 2210 S. Peabody St., on Tuesday. (Mike Bicknell)

PORT ANGELES — A story, told well, invites the listener into someone else’s world. At the same time, tales might make us more aware of our own world and stories.

So believes Avery Hill, the Portland, Ore., storyteller and singer-songwriter on her way to the free Story Swap at the Port Angeles Library, 2210 S. Peabody St., at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Admission to the swap — the last one before a summer break — is free. The Story People of Clallam County will host Hill as the featured teller in the first half. They will take a refreshment break and then open up the microphone for other storytellers.

Hill’s performance, titled “Dreams and Ghosts: A Family Album,” is made up of stories and and songs in which Hill peeks into how our forebears’ lives help us make sense of our own.

Erran Sharpe, a teller, musician and president of the Story People, encourages both tellers and listeners to join him at the swap. These stories are for adults and teens, he noted, and not for young children.

“Storytelling is the original performance art,” a complete drama in a few minutes, he said. And this art is alive, in that tellers rarely lay out the tale in exactly the same way twice.

“The story changes in subtle ways in response to the audience,” Sharpe said

For her part, Hill uses music and spoken word to explore family history, traveling back and forth in time from a 1920 road trip through Kansas to a 2006 funeral at Arlington National Cemetery.

She goes from a decision to say “yes” in 19th-century Missouri to a decision to say “no” in 20th-century Germany.

“In the backdrop, the steady question remains: not where, but who are you from,” she said.

“Stories are sneaky,” Hill added.

“You come for the entertainment, but what you take home is so much more.”

More about Hill, who also plays guitar and ukulele, can be found at www.averyhilltunes.com.

For information about the swap and other local storytelling events — including the Forest Storytelling Festival at Peninsula College on Oct. 20-22 — see Clallamstorypeople.org, email President@ ClallamStoryPeople.org or call 360-460-6594.