West Virginia’s Old-Time Storyteller
Kent Lilly of Camp Creek, West Virginia, is an Appalachian storyteller. He doesn’t use that term, for many his age commonly share the rich oral tradition of the region, and he doesn’t think it is anything special. “Professional storytellers” these days research historical stories and facts and introduce theatrics in performances. Kent’s intuitive and unrehearsed style includes gestures, sound effects, grimaces, grins and contortions to enhance the telling. Kent doesn’t “learn” his stories. They come to him through contact and visiting with friends and neighbors. Rife with folklore, his colorful “turn of phrase” is filled with sayings, nicknames, humorous anecdotes and emotions that link his stories to real people and actual happenings, often with a humorous twist. He explains in this DVD how the ‘possum got his grin, how “Snakebite John” got his name, and how old-timers enjoy duck gizzards. His wit does cause him to wander from the truth from time to time, thereby following the time-honored tradition of spinning yarns for listeners. Kent says, “George Washington couldn’t lie. I could, but I wouldn’t want to.”
This project was produced from an interview with Kent Lilly in 1997 and from three subsequent interviews that took place in 2009.
A film by Gerald Milnes
Cover design by Marilyn Palmer Richards
AHCMS-09 DVD – 60 minutes – $20