Last Paragraph from The Snow Clown

Sometimes things change. I want to go back to St. Michael to teach Charlene’s kids to juggle. I want to eat spam and paint Eskimo masks on kids’ faces. I want to write a play about breaking the silence, or help Charlene write a play for the whole village, telling even more secrets. But they might not need me now. Dougie and Barnsie might already be there, making a show with every kid in … Read More

Storytelling Across Cultures

The Snow Clown is full of stories, of course; it is also about the power of stories across cultures. Near the end of the book, a group of high school students in the Yup’ik village of St. Michael take the power of storytelling away from their teacher, who has been rehearsing the student show using Shakespeare’s “Seven Ages of Man” speech as the overall structure. Note: Charlene, who you will meet in a moment, … Read More

The Power of Storytelling

In a recent interview with the NY Times, Michelle Obama and Tracee Ellis Ross (“Black-ish”) talked about the power of storytelling: Michelle Obama: When I say “go high,” I’m not trying to win the argument. I’m trying to figure out how to understand you and how I can help you understand me. Tracee Ellis Ross: Knowing other people’s stories is how we connect with them. That’s where the compassion is ignited. If people who … Read More

The Politics of Human Connection

A few weeks ago, I was working a phone bank supporting progressive candidates. One guy started our conversation with, “I would never vote for a Democrat in my life.” I asked him why and he told about a bill that Jerry Brown signed into law that “Ruined my business!” I said, “That makes sense” and asked him to sell me on the Republican candidate. We talked for twenty minutes, laughing a lot, teasing each … Read More

Be Here Now Philosophy in ‘The Snow Clown’

TUESDAY WAS ACROBATICS DAY, starting with a dozen fourth graders. I asked the kids to take off their shoes and line up. Nothing happened. 24 eyes just stared at me. I repeated myself, a little more slowly and with better articulation, “Please take off your shoes so we can do acrobatics on the mats.” Twelve kids stood completely still with blank looks on their faces. Tina took off her shoes and did a string … Read More

Body Language – An Excerpt from The Snow Clown

From Jeff Raz’s new book The Snow Clown The Snow Clown – Chapter 30 “A Cross is Burning” ON THE FIRST DAY of rehearsal, 22 of us sit on folding chairs, just barely fitting in the long, thin classroom we’ve been assigned. Some folks make it clear with their body language and monosyllabic responses that they would rather be anywhere else. I want to get right to the tough stuff: institutional racism, hate symbols, … Read More