Perspectives: The Sandburg Story Slam

Sandburg speaking with an NBC microphone
* The Story Slam is CANCELLED due to the government shutdown.

Carl Sandburg Home NHS will host its first community storytelling slam on Carl Sandburg’s Birthday, Sunday, January 6, 2019. Storytellers from across the region will share true five-minute stories with a live audience at Blue Ridge Community College Bo Thomas Auditorium from 2:00 – 4:00 pm. The event is free and open to the public, and suitable for all ages. American Sign Language interpreters will also translate the stories for the audience.

A call for storytellers went out in November, with finalists notified in December. Each storyteller was asked to submit a true story reflecting the theme of “dream,” based on a line Carl Sandburg wrote in a poem, “nothing happens unless first a dream.” The audience will enjoy listening to finalists’ true stories of “dream” through actual dreams, goals achieved, surprises, and dreams waylaid by struggle and hardship. There will be laughter, tears, and a sense of relating to the very personal experiences of the storytellers.

“Carl Sandburg worked with people from all walks of life and learned from their perspectives. His genuine interest and care for others is what made him such a strong voice for the people. A storytelling event, featuring everyday people, is a powerful way to celebrate his birthday and legacy,” said Park Superintendent Polly Angelakis.

The story slam will be moderated by storyteller Johnny Thomas Fowler. Fowler is from Boiling Springs, SC. He is an award winning banjo and harmonica player and recipient of the South Carolina Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, the highest honor given to folk artists in South Carolina. He is one of sixteen storytellers featured in the book, Southern Appalachian Storytellers. Fowler co-hosts an old-time radio show, This Old Porch, and hosts and produces WORD STAGE, a weekly storytelling series. Both can be heard on North Carolina Public Radio station WNCW.

A panel of judges will rate the stories, with first place awarded $100, second place $75, and third place, $50. All finalists will receive a small thank you gift for participating.

In case of inclement weather, the snow date will be January 13, from 2:00 - 4:00 pm. We will notify finalists and post information on our website,, Facebook page, and via media advisory if the story Slam has to be rescheduled.

Support for the Slam is provided by the Friends of Carl Sandburg at Connemara, the park’s fundraising partner, and by Eastern National, the partner that manages our bookstore.

If interested in sharing a true 5-minute story with a live audience, please read and follow submission details at and submit your story pitch by December 10, 2018.

Finalists will be notified via email and invited to share their story with a live audience on January 6, 2019, at Blue Ridge Community College Bo Thomas Auditorium, starting at 2:00 pm. The order and number of storytellers on the day of the event will be chosen randomly from the finalists. A panel of judges will rate the stories, with first place awarded $100, second place $75, and third place $50. All finalists in attendance on January 6th will receive a small thank you gift for participating.

Submission Criteria for storytellers - Stories must be:
  • 5 minutes in length.
  • Your story to tell - a true story from your life. Strictly nonfiction. No poems, notes, music (instruments), props, or stand-up comedy.
  • Related to the theme of “dream.”
  • Family friendly.
  • Appropriate and respectful of other peoples’ identities (gender, orientation, race, religion, culture, etc).
  • email your story pitch (a 2 minute max. mp3 file, recorded on your smart phone) by December 10, 2018 to In your email, include your full name and current phone number, email address, and the name of your story. To help us track story submissions, include your name in the title of your mp3.
  • Judges Rating: Judges will rate your story on original “true life” content, theme, and purpose. Presentation skills, style, and audience appreciation will also be important factors.

Last updated: January 9, 2019

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

81 Carl Sandburg Lane
Flat Rock, NC 28731


(828) 693-4178

Contact Us