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Sally Pomme Clayton
Sally Pomme Clayton

Happy World Storytelling Day!

Buy The Phoenix of Persia

Happy World Storytelling Day! To celebrate, we interviewed the fantastic author of The Phoenix of Persia, Sally Pomme Clayton. Sally Pomme Clayton is an incredible performance, storyteller and writer. You can read her interview below:

What impact can storytelling have on children?

I think that stories are like seeds – they get planted inside you, but you have no idea exactly what they are going to grow into. But the seed needs to be planted. It is one of the most vital things. A parent telling a story to a child can impart a sense of magic about the world, they can ignite a sense of the possibilities and potentials that are inside the child. Listening to a storyteller perform a story engages the imagination, develops a sense of how stories are structured, and this in turn helps the child with their own communication in all forms. Perhaps most important of all for me, is that fairytales and myths are ancient, they link us to our distant ancestors, and contain ancient images and meanings that are infinitely rich and valuable.

Do you have any childhood memories of listening to a story? What are they?

My Grandfather told me and my sister stories, he would stand at the end of our bunk bed and become the characters. We loved it and would beg for more stories. I loved it so much I started telling stories to my sister and cousins, gathering them round me, making up epics that went on and on! I’m still doing it today.

Sally Pomme Clayton performing for an audience

How do you use music and song in your storytelling? What do they give the story?

I use lots of music, sounds and songs in my performances. Sometimes I collaborate with musicians, a band, or even an orchestra, sometimes I play some instruments myself! Stories in many parts of the World were, and still are, told with music: the Griot in West Africa often plays a kora, a 21 string lute; the Pandavani teller in North India is accompanied by a band of musicians; the Pansori storyteller in South Korea performs with a musician; the Ziraw in Kazakhstan accompanies themselves with a dombra, a small lute. These traditions stretch back in time, troubadours, bards and Homer with his harp are part of them. And opera evolved from these roots.
I love working with music – it makes the images and emotions in the story come to life.

Next year we’re publishing Sally Pomme Clayton’s exciting retelling of an ancient Persian fairy tale. Stay tuned for more news.

  • Watch a video of a Pardekhani (an ancient storytelling practice) performance with Alia Alzougbi at Greenwich Book Festival
  • Check out a children’s reading event at Belsize Park Community Library

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