By Steven Graham
The New SCENE Magazine
Bill Lamperes has heard a lot of ideas for his novels. All those pitches made him realize that everyone has a story to tell, so he formed a creative community space for people to share their stories — with musical and artistic accompaniment to boot.
Every few weeks, Avogadro’s Number hosts Lamperes and his Tale Spinners Lounge. It is part of a regional resurgence of the oldest art form in the world. Storytelling dates back to our primitive ancestors sitting around the campfire.
Of course, caveman stories were likely not as interesting as the stories at the Tale Spinners Lounge or as sophisticated as the ForkSocket series at Wolverine Farm.
Three second-year masters of fine arts students run the ForkSocket series to give first-year MFA students a chance to practice public speaking and present their writing.
“We can all appreciate good stories and powerful language,” said poetry MFA student Margaret Browne, who is one of the three current organizers.
She said the ForkSocket name suggests the impact of hearing all these diverse stories and poems.
“It’s just the idea of a really big shock that shakes things up,” Browne said. “It’s meant to create a lot of energy and be overall really invigorating.”
At the same time, it is much more relaxed than reading for a panel of professors.
“It’s great for the students because many of them haven’t had the chance to read in public before and that can be a scary thing,” said co-organizer Evan Senie, who is a fiction writing MFA student. “ForkSocket offers as laid-back an environment as you’ll find while reading to 30 to 40 people.”
For the audience, it’s a chance to see something unique.
“Where else can you find a Marxist reading of Toy Story, people eating pasta out of hollowed out books, a disaster preparedness plan that involves eating stale bread and blowing up an above-ground pool, and also a whole bunch of beautiful poetry, fiction, and nonfiction?” asked Senie.
Browne said storytelling is having a renaissance because people are realizing that anyone can do it.
“I think that the idea of the open mic or the reading has always been there,” she said. “It’s becoming more widespread because it’s being democratized in a new way.”
It’s not just graduate students who long for the simple pleasures of storytelling.
“I believe in this modern world of media posts, instant gratification and social separation, people crave connections,” Lamperes said. “People want relationship. There is a need for a community ‘glue’ that identifies common bonds, history, culture.”
His Tale Spinners Lounge has been playing to sold-out audiences at various venues for two years, but has found its permanent home at Avogadro’s Number.
Lamperes worked in Fort Collins schools for 40 years, and has written 10 novels. He launched the Tale Spinner Lounge as a way to give back to the community — and share the stories he kept hearing.
To make the event more dynamic, it includes live backing music and visual artists who paint as the stories spun out. It also provides exposure and a new revenue stream for the painters and musicians, and adds depth to the already touching stories.
“I only want stories that come from people’s hearts,” Lamperes said. “That’s what we’ve been doing. Focusing on people’s loves and lives.”
Though the staff at Avo’s was apprehensive at first, they booked a Thursday night spot for the first Tale Spinner Lounge. It sold out three weeks in advance.
“It was so well-received that nobody went home,” he said.
He said he expects another sell-out on Nov. 3, including a storyteller who will paint while she tells her own story.
“Nobody will be able to figure out what she is painting until she turns it upside down and it shows the story,” Lamperes said.