New Hampshire Institute of Art: Storytelling Festival

“After nourishment, shelter, and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” – Phillip Pullman

According to anthropologists, humans have been telling tales since they acquired the capacity for speech. Ancient tales tended towards the magical, but people believed in their power, similar to people today who believe in religions. Storytelling evolved with the written word, but there are many people in the world who can’t read and still rely on oral storytelling. Joan Didion goes so far as to say, “We tell ourselves stories in order to live;” it could be argued that we tell stories in our heads, particularly about ourselves, all the time, and thus forge self-consciousness.

Storytelling today comes in more forms than ever. Since the advent of the printing press in the 1400s, along with the ebook more recently, written stories have shaped our culture significantly, but so have films, radio, print, music, art, standup comedy, blogs, and, increasingly, video games. Even the news is often presented as a story, because humans require a narrative to process information effectively. Marketing specialists rely on storytelling to sell products.

To celebrate the universal significance of storytelling, New Hampshire Institute of Art (NHIA) is holding its very first Storytelling Festival on Saturday, April 8th. NHIA’s Office of Career and Alumni Services, in conjunction with the Creative Writing Department, has organized the Festival to highlight the personal and cultural stories of the NHIA community as well as those of broader Southern New Hampshire. Storytellers working in all media are welcome to submit.

NHIA has invited NHPR’s Virginia Prescott to emcee the event.

NHIA has invited members of New Hampshire’s immigrant communities and senior centers and anyone else with a story to tell to submit a story proposal.

Submissions for this event are open to the public. Writers, storytellers, illustrators, and graphic novelists, as well as creatives working in a wide variety of other media, professional or amateur, are invited to participate in this Moth Radio Hour-style event. The stories can be true or embellished. Each presenter will be limited to five minutes. This event is free and open to the public.

How to Submit:

Those interested in participating should send a brief description of their story to by March 17, 2017. Those with images accompanying their story should submit their image files along with the outline of their story for review. Accepted entrants will be notified by March 31st.

Event Details:

2-5 PM Saturday, April 8, 2017

New Hampshire Institute of Art

French Hall Auditorium

148 Concord Street, Manchester, NH 03104

Monica Bilson is an essayist whose work crosses the boundaries of fiction writing, philosophy, aesthetics, and popular culture. Originally inspired by existentialism and modernism, she has published work on topics ranging from Foucault’s theory of the panopticon as it relates to anorexia nervosa to hermetic fantasies found in Beckett’s plays and David Lynch’s films.Monica has served as the head of several writing programs since she moved to New Hampshire in 2005. She was the Chair of Writing and Literature at Chester College of New England; the Co-director of Turnstyle: The Alternative Writing Program for High School Students; and currently serves as Chair of the BFA in Writing and the Director of the Low-residency MFA in Writing at New Hampshire Institute of Art. She is also hosting the Young Writers Project this summer, offering a week-long writing intensive for high school students in partnership with the New Hampshire Writers Project, also at New Hampshire Institute of Art. Monica lives in Hopkinton, NH and spends free time with her teenage daughter, also a writer, and her bulldog.

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