Storytelling Festival at UMSL

The St. Louis Storytelling Festival Board, in association with the University of Missouri–St. Louis and the St. Louis Public Library, is proud to announce Vynetta Morrow as the 2013 Irene Eveland Award Recipient.

Morrow currently works at St. Louis Public Library, Julia Davis Regional Branch, as a youth services specialist. She serves preschools, day cares, schools, and community outreach groups in the Julia Davis region with literature-based story times and programs that link the curriculum with library resources exposing students, teachers and families to information sources and connections throughout the African diaspora.

This award is a tribute to the efforts of Irene Eveland, a tireless supporter of storytelling and the St. Louis Storytelling Festival. In her 35-plus years at St. Louis Public Library, Eveland was an advocate and promoter of storytelling, as well as a mentor, model and nurturer of new storytelling talent. To be eligible for the award, nominees must be employed in a St. Louis metropolitan area library, must tell stories in their library as part of their regular employment and must be new talent.

“I consider Irene as one of my ancestral mentors; they are not here with us, but we use the example of their lives to live our own,” Morrow said. “Irene was responsible for mentoring the current generation of leaders at the St. Louis Public Library, raising the standard of excellence for community outreach in St. Louis city.”

Morrow further stated that “educator, historian and community activist, Dr. Julia Davis is another example of an ancestral mentor, as her service to the community sets the bar high. My familial ancestors give me a rhythm to live by as well, including my mother, who taught school and lived in the community I serve every day.”

As the award recipient, Morrow will be featured as a preview to the 34th Annual St. Louis Storytelling Festival. She will share stories for young people at Herzog Academy Elementary School in St. Louis at 9 a.m. April 29 and at Edgar Road Elementary School in Webster Groves, Mo., at 2 p.m. April 30.

Morrow’s stories focus on the African diaspora, highlighting the traditions and experiences of black people throughout the world that exemplify the human condition. This tradition of storytelling was passed down through the generations.

“My grandfather as well as my father, who recently passed away, were quintessential family storytellers,” Morrow said. “With distinct baritone voices, each used stories to not only pass down history but also inspire and challenge. I attempt to meet this high level of expectation with each opportunity to tell.”

Morrow is not new to the St. Louis Storytelling Festival, having been a part of the New Voices last year, and participating in the Storytelling Course in 2009.

“St. Louis has something special here,” Morrow said. “The interaction among new, regional and featured tellers, the willingness to help newcomers, and the warmth of the Festival are very welcoming. I’m glad to become a part of that spirit.”

The 34th Annual St. Louis Storytelling Festival will begin May 1 and end May 4. During this time, nationally known and regional storytellers will join UMSL with storytelling activities and events at various locations throughout the metropolitan St. Louis area. Stories shared are suitable for all members of the family, and most events are offered free to the public. For a complete schedule, full list of featured and regional storytellers, and more information, please visit the festival’s website at or call 314-516-5994.

Visit the St. Louis Public Radio | 90.7 KWMU website to listen to a “Cityscape” interview with Sue Hinkel, storyteller and assistant director of the St. Louis Storytelling Festival.

Leslie Patterson

Leslie Patterson