Listen: Story Week director Miles Merrill chats to 96five contributor Georgia Free about this year’s program
From speeches to slam poetry, Story Week is a celebration of storytelling in its rawest form. It showcases the best literary talent Australia has to offer and, for the first time since its inception, Story Week 2020 will be digital so you can experience it all from wherever you enjoy hearing a good story — on the lounge, in bed or the backyard, or at park or cafe?
Story Week director Miles Merrill spoke about the challenges 2020 has presented for the program.
“We were fortunate in that enough people decided Zoom was a thing,” Miles laughed. “So we started making digital poetry slams for libraries, festivals and schools.”
However, the workshops required adaptation in order to appeal to a digital audience.
“People are quite happy to sit down with a Netflix series for eight hours and binge,” Miles said.
“How do we learn from that? [How do we] create great content?”
Miles said the could be found in the cornerstone of Story Week: the Australian Poetry Slam National Finals, which is a culmination of months of competitions from all around the country, providing marginalised voices with a platform to tell their story. The competition provides a much-needed injection of diversity into the Australian media landscape.
“The people who participate in poetry slams are not the people who see their lives played out on Neighbours or Home and Away,” Miles said.
“What we do with storytelling is remind people that stories are also told around the barbeque… you don’t need to be an artist with 10,000 hours to be worthy of telling a story.”
Due to COVID-19, Story Week will be held virtually, easily allowing opportunities to not only hear the stories of others, but start conversations with those in your own life no matter where they are in the world.
“The entertainment [used to be] to sit around the campfire and everybody takes a turn to tell a story. Now, where are we turning to? Are we going to remain consumers of other people’s stories or are we going to take responsibility to tell our own stories?” Miles asked.
Listen to the full interview in the player above. Story Week will be held on November 6-14.