MACON, Ga. — This story has been contributed by Marianna Bacallao, a practicum student at Mercer University's Center for Collaborative Journalism.
Every second Tuesday of the month, Koryn Young can be found at Grant’s Lounge, sipping on a beer and scribbling last-minute changes to her introductions before the bar fills with people.
Young organizes Storytellers: Macon, a local monthly storytelling event that gives members of the community a platform to share their stories. Young has listened to several in the three years since she’s inherited the organization.
“What makes a good story?” Young said. “The phones are down, the people are sipping their drinks, the audience is engaged, there’s clapping in the middle of it… it doesn’t always have to be super loud when you’re having a conversation; it doesn’t have to be, crazy laughter and sighs of sadness, but you can tell when an audience is attached.”
Before taking over the organization, Young herself had attended the event as a storyteller.
“What I think people really enjoy about Storytellers is that you just don’t know what somebody else’s truth is,” Young said. “You don’t know who’s going to be funny and you don’t know if you’re going to cry, you don’t know if you’re going to laugh, or if you’re going to feel uncomfortable, you don’t know any of that, it’s just sort of a wave you get to ride.”
Young said there’s only one rule: no hate speech. Everything else is free game.
“I never have, in three years, had to tell someone to please get off the stage,” Young said. “We have the option to speak our truth. I don’t censor stories. I don’t tell you what your truth is. If you cuss, if you talk about sex, none of that is cut out, but you’re not bound to that either.”
Young has introduced a new segment to Storytellers in which shyer Maconites are able to write their stories down, to be read by someone else. The anonymous question, as Young calls it, is inspired by the Moth, a podcast that holds similar storytelling events across the country.
“So, whatever the topic is, I put out papers around the room that basically ask: What is your story?” Young said. “So, you don’t actually have to go up and tell a story, but you can write your story. You don’t have to get up and tell a story, but you can be an integral part of Storytellers.”
The next Storytellers: Macon event will be hosted Nov. 12 at Grant’s Lounge at 6:30 p.m.
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