Beginning in 1999, I’ve traveled to the Kurdish region of Turkey in search of storytellers, collecting tales and documenting this beautiful but endangered culture. What an amazing and eye opening journey it has been. I knew that the storytelling tradition was in peril, but it was shocking to see how quickly it was disappearing. The young people, forbidden by law to study their language, are not learning and passing along the tales, nor are the legends being written down. Most Kurds have been kept illiterate in their native Kurdish tongue due to government policies forbidding reading or writing in Kurdish. (Laws not lifted until 1992)
Sometimes, after arriving at a village and being introduced to the storyteller, the teller would say these words: “Ne zanim” or “I don’t remember.” Several of the storytellers had recently had strokes that left them without the words and the memory to tell the ancient tales. All those who remembered stories said, “No one has asked me to tell a story for twenty years.” These were heartbreaking moments made less painful by the many times I was able to successfully document very old tellers.
Although my project has resulted in a book, A Fire in My Heart: Kurdish Tales much work is still yet to be done! There are many tellers who are very old and need to be recorded as soon as possible. Please consider making a donation to this endeavor. Your contribution will help me to travel safely, to hire a translator/guide, rent a car and pay for food, airfare and for the many smaller expenses that occur. The legends and heritage of a culture are part of the riches of mankind and we will all be the poorer for losing them.
NSN, the National Storytelling Network has agreed to provide a non-profit umbrella for this project and because of that, any contribution will be tax-deductible. Simply send your donation as a sending a check made out to the National Storytelling Network (include a note that these funds are to be put towards the “Kurdish Storytelling Project: Edgecomb”) and send it to: National Storytelling Network, PO Box 795, Jonesborough, TN 37659. You will receive notice from NSN for this tax-deductible donation, a letter of heartfelt thanks from me and news of my continued work.