The Anne Izard Storytellers' Choice Awards presented Joe Hayes with their prestigious award for his newest book, Dance, Nana, Dance / Baila, Nana, Baila. Unfortunately Joe was not able to attend the award ceremony, so he wrote a letter to thank the nominating committee. That letter gives a nice insight into Joe's creative process. We wanted to share it with you. By the way, below is a photograph of Joe telling stories to an audience in Holguin during a recent trip to Cuba. He participated in a "Brigada Artistica"--after Hurricane Ike, performance artists of all disciplines traveled through the countryside, lending their talents to bring good spirit to the people. You can read more about his journey at this previous blog entry. Now enjoy Joe's speech.


Dear friends, colleagues, fellow storytellers and lovers of stories,

I’m very sorry I can’t be with you to celebrate the Anne Izard Storytellers’ Choice Awards—especially since some old friends I haven’t seen in a long time are among my fellow “honorees.”

I’m pleased and flattered that Dance, Nana, Dance / Baila, Nana, Baila has been chosen to receive this award. I’m especially pleased that this particular book, this collection of Cuban folktales, has received such recognition.

Someone has said that enemies are just people whose stories we don’t know. I see a lot of truth in that. The more other people’s stories are hidden from us, the easier it is for us to view them as enemies. But, when we begin to learn their stories, we recognize all we share in common with them and we delight in how the unique beauty of their traditions enriches our own lives.

Political events of the past half century have conspired to keep most U.S. Americans ignorant of the wealth of stories to be found on an island almost visible from our far southeastern shore. My book attempts to open a narrow breach in the curtain of misunderstanding that separates the two countries.

The small selection of stories in Dance, Nana, Dance hardly provides a broad understanding of Cuban storytelling or Cuban culture. I hope, though, that it gives enough insight to generate appreciation for our near neighbors of whom we know so little. Maybe it will even inspire some norteamericanos to travel to Cuba so that they can experience the culture firsthand.

The truth is, however, that I never really tell stories or put them in print out of any political, philosophical or grand artistic impulse: I just want to share something that pleases me and which I think might please others. My fond hope is that children and adults will find these stories entertaining and nourishing. And my fondest hope is that other storytellers will find the tales useful and begin to tell some of them. If that happens, then I’ll know the book truly is a “storytellers’ choice.”


Cheryl said…
A well-deserved honor, congratulations!

I wholeheartedly agree with your comment about enemies and their stories. My daughter said you are planning to be at her school, Tierra Del Sol and I'm quite jealous and wish I could skip work and attend too!

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