Last week, Canada lost one of its most beloved storytellers: writer & broadcaster Stuart McLean, host of the seemingly perennial Vinyl Café , passed away leaving quite a legacy. For decades, people from all across our country – from small hamlets on our east and west coasts, through urban centres to remote Northern villages – were connected through the telling of his stories, and his sharing of their own.
Despite being a fan for years, listening on weekly radio and attending live shows when possible, I’ve been surprised by my depth of emotion; reading tributes and comments from others, I know that am not alone.
Such is the power of story-telling. None of you need to be convinced of this, but it is a keen reminder for me to not to shy away from acknowledging its critical role in connecting people with the written word – so here are some action items for me:
- Continue to enjoy building a story of summer reading, working with Celeste Porche of Metairie, LA to prepare our presentation for AISL NOLA (can’t wait to meet you in person, Celeste!)
- Read a picture book aloud at my next Bigside Books meeting (probably Lane Smith’s It’s a Book, so great for high school kids)
- Incorporate some short stories and spoken word poetry into a boys’ book club that I run outside of school – I’m thinking Stuart, Shane Koyczan, Humble the Poet – recommendations welcome!
Side note: Jess Milton, Stuart’s ‘long-suffering’ (his words) producer, noted in an interview after his passing that Stuart was surprisingly quiet off-stage, often focused on listening to others’ stories. As someone privileged to work with teens, this is an excellent reminder of what a speaker offered at a recent TABS conference – “the listening is the helping.”