Tell me a story

Milford's storytelling evenings

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  • Ruby Lynn Willis introduces Suzanne Braun Levine (Photo by Marilyn Rosenthal)

  • The audience gets its literary fix while waiting for the Readers and Writers Festival to come around again. (Photo by Marilyn Rosenthal)

Other storytellers in series

Saturday, July 1 — Diana Wiener, "The Wellspring, Fannie’s Story" (the story of her grandmother, a Hungarian immigrant’s journey to the United States)
Saturday, Aug. 5 — Donna Caruso, "The Winner" (a romance novel)

By Marilyn Rosenthal

— Once upon a time, storyteller Ruby Lynn Willis suggested hosting a storytelling event that would continue the momentum of Milford's Readers and Writers Festival throughout the year, rather than just during the festival month of September.

This has become a reality. These storytelling events take place on the first Saturday of every month, co-sponsored by the festival and the Triversity Center (201 West Harford St. in Milford, in the lower level of the old schoolhouse building). Authors read from their books, and an open mic afterward gives anyone who wants to the chance to tell a story, give a talk, or recite poetry.

On June 3, the featured storyteller was Milford's own Suzanne Braun Levine, nationally known author, first editor of Ms. Magazine, and a co-found of the Readers and Writers Festival.

Even though Levine has given hundreds of talks nationally and internationally, she has never been asked to read from her books. This night was a first for her and an incredible treat for the audience.

They started an impromptu singing of Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman." While the singing was really off key and terrible, the symbiotic connection with the audience and Levine the storyteller was palpable.

Levine invoked the famous Bette Davis quote, "Getting old is not for sissies." And the audience had several Aha! moments when Levine uttered hilarious couplets about aging:

1972: Moving to California because it's cool

2002: Moving to California because it's warm

1972: Acid Rock

2002: Acid Reflux

Levine related her Outward Bound experience, a pivotal moment in her transition to second adulthood.

It was one week of Marine Boot Camp. She obediently did all of the feats asked of her: swinging on ropes, sleeping on oars in a boat, and then being thrown into the water in the morning, and so forth. One the last day, they were in a lovely forest. The group came to a clearing and, suddenly, at the edge, there was nothing but open space. She had to rappel down a 90-foot cliff. She did it, but was a complete mess. Her knees gave way, she was coughing and crying. But she did it.

Then the leader said, "Okay, now we're going back up."

"Seized by the realization that I was going to say no, I said, 'NO!,'" said Levine. "It was the loudest sound I ever made."

It was a benchmark. She had arrived at an age when she didn't care what people thought anymore.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to correct a typo.

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  • Mar 22, 2018


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