Punchlines and life lessons: sometimes a story is more than just a story
- NC Raine | May 02, 2022
For Saskatoon artist Zoey Roy stories have always been a portal to a world full of joy, sadness, frustration and even understanding. “I loved listening to my mom and her friends tell stories back and forth to each other,” she said. “I loved the way they would build onto each other’s stories and jokes then burst out into laughter together.”
She said a story can culminate into a funny punchline or become a life lesson.
Roy’s love of storytelling is obvious to those around her, which is why Deborah Lee from University Libraries suggested she apply to be the next Indigenous storyteller in residence at the University of Saskatchewan.
“(Lee) has always been very supportive of my work,” said Roy. “I was so happy to hear that they were interested in me.”
The previous storyteller in residence was Lindsay ‘Eekwol’ Knight. “She is a huge inspiration to me so I am happy to trail behind, even though I will never be the sequel of Eekwol,” said Roy. Melissa Just, dean of the university library, who is involved in the program said the avid storyteller was a great fit for the role.
“(Roy) is not only a dynamic, creative personality, but she’s had considerable experience working in Indigenous communities across Saskatchewan – particularly with youth within those communities,” said Just. “It was such a wonderful opportunity to have her bring those experiences into the library and share them with us through her storytelling.”
Roy is happy with her time in the role particularly with the workshops.
“There were some people that came back each week and then there were some people that came for a few sessions,” she said. “Some people came and listened and others got super involved. It was a diverse group of people from all over the world.”
Just is equally pleased with how everything went. “(Roy) was an outstanding storyteller – funny, smart, committed,” she said. “All of the feedback we received was extremely positive. The workshops she developed for the residency were in fact so successful that she’s going to continue meeting with participants even after the residency concludes.”
For Roy, it was also about having an impact as an artist. “This role is significant because it provides time and space for an artist to have a meaningful impact on how creatives interpret indigeneity, colonialism and the convergence of the two,” she said. “I gained insight into how rich and diverse the creative writing community is today. I also realize there is a strong interest in learning spoken word.”
Although her tenure is over, Roy continues to run poetry nights for free every Thursday. Anyone interested can go to her website www.zoeyroy.com for more information.