Storyteller-in-Residence Will Bring Appalachian Tales to the World

Adam Booth was named the ‘Storyteller in Residence’ at Shepherd University in West Virginia. Photo: Katelyn Stoneberger

Shepherd University has named a native West Virginian to its first “storyteller-in-residence” position, with an eye on sharing Appalachian folklore with the world.

Adam Booth, a native West Virginian, has been awarded the position and will use his skills to help reflect the region’s culture and heritage through stories, according to a press release from Shepherd University.

Listen to the story here.

Booth is an award-winning storyteller, who has taught at Shepherd for the past 14 years. This new position will allow him to share his skillset beyond the university. 

“Our stories define who we are and determine who we might become,” said Sylvia Bailey, director of Shepherd’s Center for Appalachian Studies and Communities. “Our stories reflect our culture and heritage, and the most fundamental parts of ourselves, and they are essential for survival.” 

Booth has won the West Virginia Liars’ Contest four times and he created the Speak Series — an international storytelling series partnered with the Center for Appalachian Studies and Communities. 

Booth’s stories are a combination of mountain folklore and contemporary Appalachia. For example, on his Youtube channel, Booth tells his interpretation of the traditional story “Rawhead and Bloodbones,” a story that originated in the British Isles and traveled with immigrants to southern Appalachia.

“…That woman she had a daughter that was about as mean as she was. They’d do mean things to people all day long, and then go home a laugh about it…and there was also a man that was just the opposite. He had a heart that seemed to be made out of pure gold…and he also had a daughter, who was just like him…”

Through the storyteller-in-residence position at Shepherd University, Booth will continue to develop the Speak Series, sharing Appalachian folklore with a modern twist to the world.

This article was originally published by West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

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