In Maine: Storytellers Cast Their Ancient Spell

Once upon a summer's morning, on the stage of the Opera House at Rockport, Me., a lanky bearded man in striped shirt and suspenders, looking as if he were off a potato farm, sits on a piano bench beneath an 1890s-style white-and-gilt proscenium arch. At the First Annual North Atlantic Festival of Storytelling, Michael Parents is speaking of creation.

The story Parents tells is from an Iroquois legend, explaining how birds got their song. God, it seems, decided on a fair and just competition. Each bird would fly upward as far as it could,...

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