Monday, 25 October 2010

Speaking of off the beaten track

In my old life as a world championship sleeper who had time to read more than safety hazard labels, I used to love reading folklore. And for my money, the best stuff comes from America's Great Depression of the 1930's (that other time of banking whoopsies) when America's federal government actually paidnot well mind youunemployed writers and bog standard folks off the street to walk around collecting life histories from other bog standard folks with stories to tell. Of course at the time there was an avalanche of criticism directed towards all this rather pinko-plot-sounding stuff, but the Federal Writers' Project actually 'uncovered something valuable and lasting' (words of David Taylor, author of 'Soul of a People') that still makes for good reading now. The American Guide Series is still interesting and various folklore transcripts in state collections and at the Library of Congress are priceless. Taylor's 2009 book, 'Soul of a People' and an accompanying film produced by Spark Media tells the story of the story-collectors themselves. Fittingly, the film and the book spend a lot of time out on the open road. So if you are lucky enough to be in Atlanta or New York, I highly recommend stopping in to say hello and learn more about the WPA and the Federal Writers' Project here:
Atlanta, October 27th: 'Soul of a People' presentation with WPA writer Stetson Kennedy and director Andrea Kalin at the annual meeting of the Oral History Association.   
New York, November 21st: '1935 and the Enduring New Deal' panel discussion at the FDR Memorial Library, 4079 Albany Post Rd, Hyde Park. 
Tales from on the road.
More to follow on the WPA, mañana. Promise.

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