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Sat, Jun 22

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Eastport

Storyteller Jo Radner: "Burnt Into Memory"

Join us for the kickoff event in the "Stories We Tell Festival", presented by the EAC, in collaboration with The Quoddy Tides and Sipayik Museum. Please note, Radner will also teach a workshop at EAC, same day as this event!

Storyteller Jo Radner: "Burnt Into Memory"
Storyteller Jo Radner: "Burnt Into Memory"

Time & Location

Jun 22, 2024, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Eastport, 36 Washington St, Eastport, ME 04631, USA

Guests

About the event

Eastport begins a five-month-long exploration of storytelling this month with an internationally known folklorist sharing a story of one of Maine’s darkest hours.

Jo Radner, a storyteller and oral historian, will kick off the “Stories We Tell Festival” at the Eastport Arts Center on Saturday, June 22, at 7 pm, focusing on stories collected from the residents of Brownfield, Maine, who survived a cataclysmic 1947 fire. She also bases her story—titled Burnt Into Memory — on archival information, letters, news clippings, and photographs, some of which she will show.

“There were fires all over Maine during the fall of 1947. They burned many places but Brownfield was one of the worst and least noted,” she said. Indeed, the fires that year are widely regarded as the worst in the state’s history.

The town, located near Fryeburg, was a beautiful place filled with old buildings and home to around 800 people. The fire nearly leveled the town and today there’s not much left to remind visitors that it was once a thriving community of loggers and farmers.

For both the Brownfield residents and Radner the tales of the disaster were horrifying. But, “because they wove into their stories moments of resistance, determination, and genuine humor, they could bear to tell their experiences – and I could bear to hear them.”

Radner will begin and end her story with historical photos of the town before and after the fire, however much of Brownfield’s story centers on the people and how they coped with the disaster.

“The story is really about community and how people support one another,” she said. “The stories that I’m telling are the stories that Brownfield people have told me to try to explain how they find meaning in their lives through what happened.”

Radner believes these stories of crisis and community are valuable to everyone.

“Stories are the way we understand the world. They get into our imaginations and our emotions and they stay with us. I hope this story of perseverance in Brownfield will stay with everyone.”

Presented by the Eastport Arts Center in collaboration with the Sipayik Museum and The Quoddy Tides, the event is preceded on Saturday from 1-3 pm by a workshop conducted by Radner on eliciting memory. The cost is $10, and students must register via this site, or by email to workshops@eastportartscenter.org.

Other events in the festival include storytellings by John Bear Mitchell, on Saturday, July 13, at 7 pm; the Sipayik Museum’s Dwayne Tomah, Passamaquoddy Language Keeper, on Saturday, August 17, at 7 pm; and internationally recognized storyteller Antonio Rocha, on Saturday, September 15 at 7 pm. The festival concludes on Saturday, October 5, with a StorySlam of stories told by local residents.

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