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Arts & Life

Stories Of Wisdom, Healing And Life Experiences Return To Des Moines

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Karl.A Conrad
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Karl.A Conrad Photography
These were the July 2019 Sister Storytellers for "Stories to Tell My Daughter." (Left) Lyssa Wade, Amy Campos Hong, Teresa Zilk (center) is standing in the white zipper dress, Ruthie Moore, Courageous Fire, Champagne Harrington, Tenelle Thomas.

After a nearly two-year hiatus, "Stories To Tell My Daughter," a storytelling experience that centers on the lived experiences of African American women and women of color, will take to the stage on Sunday, July 25, 2021.

Six women will take the stage to share their lived experiences in the storytelling event "Stories To Tell My Daughter."

The show aims to not only attract a diverse audience but diverse storytellers as well.

Teresa Zilk
Karl.A Conrad
Teresa Zilk

Creator and producer Teresa Zilk says the event is a way for her to honor the many women in her childhood who took part in raising her.

"They were such important people in my life," Zilk said. "'Stories To Tell My Daughter' is dedicated to their memory, to their spirit, to their wisdom to everything they were to me. And they shared themselves to others — the wisdom of their lives to others."

The storytellers come from all walks of life: ages, professions, abilities, spiritualities, sexual orientations, ethnicities, locals and transplants who have set down roots in Des Moines. Some storytellers are seasoned performers, while others have never told a story to an audience before.

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Karl.A Conrad
EL Williams in "Stories To Tell My Daughter"

The stories shared on the stage range from overcoming illness, experiencing domestic violence, adjusting to new cultures, and communing with an ancestor. Some storytellers use humor, others infuse their stories with poetry, so the styles vary as much as the people speaking.

The dynamic show draws an audience back year after year — and, hopefully, motivates other women to become storytellers as well.

Christina Fernandez-Morrow, a writer and public speaker, was one of the show's first performers in 2018. Though she's not scheduled to perform this year, Fernandez-Morrow shared a piece from her performance with Charity Nebbe on Talk of Iowa.

Fernandez-Morrow (Made by Headliner).mp4

"Perhaps if I believed if I was enough,
my knees wouldn't have buckled beneath me my head landing on the dirty, stained carpet.
My mind wouldn't have blacked out,
roused by the smelling salts burning the insides of my nose,
coating my throat almost violently.
Perhaps, if I believed I was enough,
I would've allowed my body the fuel it needed to carry me through the rigger of finals during my senior year at Iowa State.
But I did not believe I was enough.
And that led to years of fingers down my throat,
folded over a toilet bowl until my insides heaved, and my head throbbed.
Feeling less than enough wasn't a college affliction.
I carried it since as long as I can remember through honor roll, gifted and talented, the Dean's List —
none were enough.
I felt I wasn't enough: I wasn't pretty enough, smart enough, Latina enough, Puerto Rican enough, American enough, thin enough.
I just wasn't enough."

"Stories To Tell My Daughter" is scheduled for July 25, 2021, in the Viking Theater at Grand View University in Des Moines.

The 2021 Sister Storytellers:

● Reyma McCoy McDeid
● Alexandra Gray
● Tiara Mays
● Manisha Paudel
● Bonnie Brown
● Claudine Cheatem