Poplarville Storyteller’s Guild bring tales to life

Published 7:00 am Friday, October 23, 2015

BLAST FROM THE PAST: Pictured, members of the Poplarville Storytellers pose for a picture just a year after the club started in Poplarville in 1983. Submitted photo.

BLAST FROM THE PAST: Pictured, members of the Poplarville Storytellers pose for a picture just a year after the club started in Poplarville in 1983. Submitted photo.

The art of storytelling is one that has been around for more than a million years. Members of the Poplarville Storytellers Guild have practiced the ancient art since the club’s inception in 1982. The club, which is the oldest storytelling group in the South, meets on a monthly basis at the Poplarville First United Methodist Church’s Christian Life Building, where they share all types of stories orally in a group setting.

Club President Mary Etta Moody, originally from Angie, Louisiana, moved to Poplarville with her family 48 years ago. Throughout the years, Moody has developed her own voice in the storytelling world and has shared her gift to many audiences across the country, from schools within the Bogalusa and Poplarville school districts to performing at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Moody is one of the original members of the Poplarville Storytellers Guild and since the guild’s founding, she’s shared her stories with community members. Mainly she focuses on factual events and ghost tales.

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Moody has a distinctly animated voice when she shares her stories, one of which was about her encounter with a teenaged ghost at an old house in New Orleans when she was only 5-years-old.

Moody said she’s met many people through the club, who all come from different walks of life and all have their own unique stories to tell.

“We always have a ball. Stories are our life. Everyone’s a storyteller,” Moody said.

The club was started by one of Moody’s good friends, Hattie Gentry, who moved to the area from Florida. The women, along with Joe Wesley, spread the word about the club through an ad in the newspaper.

“And it grew from there,” Moody said.

The club accepts anyone with a story to tell, whether they’re shy or outgoing,

Moody said. In the past, many of their members have been well-known writers, storytellers and community members sharing stories about topics ranging from tall tales to factual events, Moody said.

The club originally boasted around 50 members. But over the years, people have come and gone so now there are around 20 active members.

“It’s gone down because a lot of young people aren’t really interested in storytelling,” Moody said.

Members of the club plan to celebrate their 34th anniversary during their annual Tellabration event that will take place Nov. 21, the Saturday before Thanksgiving. The club also hosts an annual storytelling event during Poplarville’s Blueberry Jubilee, where they invite the community to share stories.

The club meets every first Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m. inside the Christian Life Building across from the church, which has sponsored the group since its inception. The meetings are open to people of all ages, Moody said.

“We sit around in a circle and tell stories. The storytelling people are brilliant. It’s a lot of fun and you can just come to listen, but you might want to start sharing stories after a while,” Moody said.

The church is located at 708 Julia St. in Poplarville.

For more information, visit the group’s Facebook page at Poplarville Storytellers Guild.