By Frank de Caro
Folklore—the inherently artistic expression, transmission, and functionality of cultural traditions—has constantly supplied a deep good of fabric for writers, musicians, and artists of every kind. Folklorists frequently hire descriptive and analytical prose, yet they, like students in different social sciences, have more and more sought new, artistic and reflexive modes of discourse. Many folklorists also are inventive writers, a few popular as such, and the people traditions they study usually offer form and substance to their paintings. This choice of inventive writing grounded in folklore and its learn brings jointly a few of the easiest examples of such writing.Contributors to this assortment comprise Teresa Bergen, John Burrison, Norma E. Cantu, Frank de Caro, Holly Everett, Danusha Goska, Neil R. Grobman, Carrie Hertz, Edward Hirsch, Laurel Horton, Rosan Augusta Jordan, Paul Jordan-Smith, Elaine J. Lawless, Cynthia Levee, Jens Lund, Mary Magoulick, Bernard McCarthy, Joanne B. Mulcahy, Kirin Narayan, Ted Olson, Daniel Peretti, Leslie Prosterman, Jo Radner, Susan Stewart, Jeannie Banks Thomas, Jeff Todd Titon, Libby Tucker, Margaret Yocom, and Steve Zeitlin.
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Extra info for Folklore Muse: Poetry, Fiction, and Other Reflections by Folklorists
She would look into his eyes and know that she was not really invisible because she could see herself reflected in the pupils of his deep brown eyes. He was a boy of few words, but the depths of those looks drove deep into her soul and she knew love as her own. When she would tell me about her life growing up, she said she always knew walking slowly back to her own home from the one-room church or the school that was just farther down and around the corner, when another baby had been born. She came to think of her mother as forever round, never slender, always bulging, waddling between the sink and the pump on the back porch, standing for a moment to look out over the brown fields, her right hand cupped over her squinting eyes, her left hand unconsciously supporting the constant pain in her back.
The warm milk dripped down her gown onto the already crusty sheets, but the babies were too little or too weak or too premature to know how to latch onto that lifeline and suck as though their lives depended upon it. All night she would bring one after the other onto her still soft stomach and cradle the babies in her arms, sometimes holding two or even three, they were that small. Cooing, singing, crying—her tears mixing with the milk, diluting it. But it didn’t matter what she did, two of the babies were content to lie next to her body and sleep.
The men sit under their big niim tree sipping strong, sweet green tea, three rounds of it that they spend hours preparing and chatting over. Each little pot of Gunpowder (a Chinese brand) gets progressively sweeter and weaker (as the same leaves are used in the pot for all three rounds), and the final round may have some mint added as well. A skilled tea maker will also be sure to build up a good head of foam in each little glass before serving it by pouring some tea back and forth from glass to glass from a great height.