Ivan Coyote: Storyteller Extraordinaire


After speaking with her twice over the phone (the amazing press that surrounded her aside–I had read ‘The Slow Fix’ and had visited her page on MySpace–I was already a fan) I was immediately captivated by Ivan. I had a strong feeling that she would ‘wow’ us all. And she did not disappoint. Ivan Coyote’s visit to L.V. Rogers Secondary on March 23rd was, personally, in a year of highlights, THE highlight for me thus far. Ivan’s humour, straight-ahead delivery, humanism, unassuming vulnerability, and vivid imagery conjured up, many past personal experiences about bullying, injustice, and alienation that I, as a slack-jawed youth, watched unfold in the school yards, hallways, and stairways.

As dynamic and commanding performance that her gave I was stunned afterward when Ivan shared the fact that she was scared of speaking to teenagers–especially teenage girls–no doubt conscious of her past experiences in schools. The fact that it is easier for Ivan to stand up and talk to a bar full of drunken people was a complete shock to me…

What struck me the most was the hold that she had on the youth in the room. Ah heck, she even had the teachers in some sort of a spell. I’d even bet that many of my colleagues found themselves, as I did, reminiscing about past experiences of injustice and ignorance as a young person. Here it was: teenagers, the very thing she feared but were hers to which to expose her past experiences; and here was group hanging on to every spoken word. Here it was, an engaged audience of our youth (something that few things nowadays can actually do aside from electronic devices); many of them nodding over and over again in agreement while at the same time laughing at Ivan’s deprecating humour and honest delivery. It was something special that I only wished we could have shared with more of our school community members.

Storytelling. That’s what we do not have enough of in our schools today. I don’t mean the retelling of the War of 1812 by the history teacher. I mean honest storytelling. The kind that humanizes and attracts. The kind that smells and breathes. No doubt, engaging in storytelling, good storytelling that is, requires a skill; a specific part of the brain that we don’t often use anymore. The right side. Thank goodness for Ivan and for those individuals that put themselves out there at the public level in an attempt to better the world.

From more details about Ivan, her writing, her films, her books or to contact her check out http://ivanecoyote.com.

A footnote: after her second performance (and a large Americano) Ivan asked me where the washrooms were…I paused. I’m not sure why. Maybe I did know why. I mean, I knew where the washrooms were. In in bit of a daze, I indicated that they were just outside the theatre doors pointing as I spoke. Immediately, I wondered, with a strange sort of curiosity which one she would have used. In retrospect, I was/am shocked that I even had that passing thought…perhaps even a little ashamed. Had I not learned anything? Wow. Ignorance isn’t necessarily fleeting, is it?

Thanks Ivan, for teaching me a lesson that I obviously needed to learn.

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