Kurdish Storytelling Project

IMG_3008Notes from Diane:

For over a decade, I’ve been traveling 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. Some, like a shepherd who had recently been forced to leave the nomadic life and move to the city, knew wonderful intricate legends that had been in his tribe for generations. As he told the tales his eyes grew distant. He was lost in the memory of stories more real to him than the small room or the whirr of the video camera.

Kurdish storytellers see themselves on camera for the first time.

Although I have archived many tellers, and written A Fire in My Heart, a book of Kurdish folktales published by Libraries Unlimited, there are many tellers who are very old and need to be documented as soon as possible. Because of this, I will return to Turkey, soon, to continue my work. 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.

A tax deductible donation can be made by sending a check made out to the National Storytelling Network (make sure you put Diane Edgecomb/Kurdish Storytelling Project in the memo line) and send it to: Attn: Diane Edgecomb/Kurdish Storytelling Project, c/o National Storytelling Network, PO Box 795, Jonesborough, TN 37659. If you would like to make a contribution directly to a bank with a transfer international funds send an email to dedge @ livingmyth.com for additional information.