PORT ANGELES — She purrs. He whispers. And she, in a clear voice, stands tall to speak her truth.
These are Minton Sparks, Jeff Doyle and Noa Baum, three among the entertainers in the Forest Storytelling Festival, which begins today and tumbles through Sunday.
A weekend of world travel via stories, workshops and activities at Peninsula College, 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd., the fest promises events both ticketed and free. The nonprofit Story People of Clallam County host this 24-year-old gathering of tellers and listeners.
“For me, this is an adventure. I’ve never been to Washington state. I’m going to learn some stuff: certain things you don’t learn unless you put your foot there,” said Decee Cornish, the griot — a traveling poet-storyteller — who will take the stage tonight, Saturday and Sunday. Cornish has traveled the globe sharing stories of black history.
“That’s my forte,” he said, noting that he tells true stories of African-American life as well as of black people around the world.
The fest’s five featured tellers bring perspectives from yonder and near.
Cornish serves “a big slice” from Fort Worth, Texas, his home, Sparks brings stories from her Tennessee stomping grounds, Baum shares experiences as an Israeli immigrant, Doyle is the founder of the Scary Story Festival in Michigan and novelist Rachel Muller tells stories inspired by her hometown of Ladysmith, B.C.
Anyone coming to the festival with a story of his or her own will find ample opportunity to step in front of the microphone. The Story Slam Light, on Saturday in the college’s Little Theater, is for true personal stories of five minutes or less, while the open-mic Story Swap in room J-47 down the hall is an exchange of various tales of up to eight minutes each. Both are free and both happen from 12:30 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. Saturday.
The festival also is known for its free, full concert of inspirational stories at 10 a.m. Sunday. All five featured tellers appear in the 90-minute performance, which is followed by a lunch break, with pizza slices for sale in the college’s PUB.
Two more concerts fill the afternoon; like the rest of the weekend’s performances, they have opening sets by regional tellers such as Alice Susong and Rebecca Hom.
Erran Sharpe, an organizer of the festival, highlighted Sparks’ debut here.
“What a unique and powerful teller she is,” he said, adding that Sparks performs with a guitarist, John Jackson, to stir together poetry, story and song.
In addition Sparks will give two workshops: “Discover Who You Are by Writing Your Story” from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. today and “Redeeming an Un-Lived Life” from 10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. Saturday.
“All of us have things we wish we’d done, lives we wish we’d lived,” the festival program notes.
“Come set fire to the stories we carry, and the power of the lives we have yet to live.”
For details see www. clallamstorypeople.org or visit the registration table outside the college’s Little Theater inside the J building.