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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

The Last Poetry Friday – Final Collected Work of Susan Ramsey

On second thought, that title above makes it sound like she’s dead.  Which, I assure you, is not the case.  It’s just that Mom has only published so many titles and we’ve been doing this Poetry Friday gig for quite a few months now.  I don’t quite know what I’ll use to fill the gap until she has a new one, but in any case here’s the last of the bunch for now.  We’re ending on a fairly hot button issue (for this crowd anyway).  Let’s see what you guys make of this one! 

Why I Hate Storytellers


Professional storytellers creep me out,

their vests and ribbons, long skirts, picturesque hats,

their shouts and whispers, hands fluttering like bats,

relentless eye contact staring me into squirm.  


They’re the Siegfrieds, Roys of story, cracking whips,

forcing sullen stories to sit up,

briefly paw air,   snarling as they leap

through rings of fire, landing on heavy paws.


Good stories sneak up, they’re glimpsed, overheard

from the booth behind you at the diner,

from the back seat, six hours into the trip,

on the radio, half-over when you tune in.


Real storytellers are quiet, even reluctant.

Casual is their camouflage.   After a long

march, supper cooked, night coming down,

the conversation passed around like a pipe,


one voice starts ambling down a path which forks

in unexpected directions and you feel

the great beast purring next to you in the dark,

its bristly chin on your shoulder, its breath in your ear.

Originally published in CALYX , A Journal of Art and Literature by Women, Vol 24, no. 1, Summer 2007 under the title Storytellers.

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. I have a confession to make [voice softens to a whisper]: I really liked that. I think the title “Why I Hate Storytellers” is really misleading. Rather than saying she hates *all* storytellers, she is instead honoring a certain kind of storyteller and a certain kind of story. I loved it. “Casual is their camouflage”. I’m going to try to work that great line into a conversation today.

  2. Sarah Miller says:

    Hoo, did I love that! But don’t tell the storytellers — they’d probably strangle me with a long skirt and bury me under one of those hats….

  3. Brian Floca says:


  4. patricia storms says:

    Oh, that is wonderful. Just wonderful.

  5. Oh, you brave, brave thing for posting that. I agree with Laura, though – she clearly doesn’t hate all storytellers. She’s just selective, is all.

  6. Jama Rattigan says:

    Wow. I’m so glad somebody finally said it. Beautifully expressed!

  7. Alkelda the Gleeful says:

    Whoah, I may be out of a job here! Maybe I should hang up my hat and my flowing scarves and… oh wait, scarves and floppy hats get in the way of playing the guitar anyway.

    For the record, I do not do voices.

  8. Then I think you’re free and clear.

  9. SHEILA RUTH says:

    I’m so glad she’s alive and well. I have to confess that I wondered when I saw the subject line. Anyway, it’s wonderful as always; I love the imagery. I’m going to miss her poetry here.

  10. Jeannine Atkins says:

    Good news Susan is alive, sad news we’ll be without her poems on Friday. I will miss their inspiration.

  11. Wow, you are brave to write that poem. I wouldn/t have the guts to do that.