Valley Voices Story Slam: Have You Got a Good One to Tell?

One of the offshoots of the podcasting revolution is that spoken word, storytelling, is becoming a big deal.  All over the U.S. people are sharing their stories, either in long forms like Tedx, and doing stand-up comedy or a particularly interesting new concept–the story slam.

I have enjoyed several of these shows locally including a Valley Voices Story Slam produced by New England Public Radio and The Academy of Music at the former Hinge Nightclub in Northampton. It was a hard fought battle but Josie Dulles won the night. . What I liked about the story slam is that it’s so homegrown. It’s all in the storytellers head, they just have to challenge themselves to remember little details, and if they can stay the course, and win the most applause, they come out the winners.

On June 6, there will be yet another story slam, but the venue is TBD until they pick the venue.

Valley Voices Story Slam’s 5th season is now underway, and I’ll be attending tomorrow night’s sold out slam at Gateway City Arts – the theme of the night is “In The Mood.” Like “In The Mood,” the next several events in the season are already sold out, but the final slam scheduled for June 6, when NEPR and the Academy of Music will take the show on the road…the venue, and tickets will be announced soon.

The only way to get into the next two shows at New City Brewery on April 4 and May 2 is through the stage door, so check out the Valley Voices website to find out how to audition for slams with themes including TMI, Busted and Open Road.

Not quite ready to make the leap on stage? Join the Valley Storytelling Community on Facebook to learn about other slams and storytelling events around our fertile, brainy valley.


During the set audition period, call our designated phone line at 413-735-6688 to share the first sentence of your story and your contact information. Please share only the first line of your story. Speak slowly and clearly when giving your line and your contact information.

Storytellers will be selected based on the strength of their first line and will be invited to share their story live at Valley Voices. Selected storytellers are encouraged to attend a free storytelling workshop, which will help to cultivate personal stories into performances. Storytellers will be offered the opportunity to purchase one ticket for a friend – we know you want moral support while you’re up on that stage!

Story Slam Rules

  • Stories must be submitted for consideration through New England Public Radio’s designated phone line on the dates described above. Share the first line of your story as you would tell it the night of the slam. Your name, email and phone number need to be recorded on voicemail. *Please speak clearly and slowly. Phone line: 413-735-6688
  • Stories must be personal, first-person narrative and from your life experience.
  • Stories must be told without notes, props, costumes or musical instruments.
  • Your story must relate to the theme.
  • Each storyteller gets 5 minutes with a one-minute warning.
  • You must be 18 or older and reside in New England.
  • If you’ve participated in a Valley Voices story slam or auditioned for previous seasons you are welcome to re-audition. You may audition for all five events in Season 5.
  • If you take 1st, 2nd or 3rd place in a slam, you cannot participate in other slams during the season (you will be moving on to the Best of Valley Voices in the fall!).
  • All storytellers must agree to have their story recorded for use on the Valley Voices Podcast and filmed for the Valley Voices website by local cable access channels including Holyoke TV.
  • The top 3 storytellers for each slam will go on to compete in the “Best of Valley Voices Story Slam” at the Academy of Music in October 2019. If you are in the top three, you must commit to sharing a story for Best of Valley Voices. The top three storytellers will be featured on the Valley Voices podcast.


  • Members of the Academy of Music and New England Public Radio staff will select 10 storytellers and 2 alternates for each slam.
  • Selected storytellers will be notified and are invited to participate in a storytelling workshop before the Story Slam to hone their story.
  • Audience members will be given Audience Choice Ballots and will choose their favorite story.
  • A volunteer panel from the Academy of Music and NEPR will tabulate first, second, and third place winners.


The top 3 storytellers for each slam will go on to compete in the “Best of Valley Voices Story Slam” at the Academy of Music in October 2019. If you are in the top three, you must commit to sharing a story for Best of Valley Voices. The top three storytellers will also be featured on the Valley Voices podcast for that theme. Other stories collected could be used in other podcasts later in the season.

The Valley Voices Podcast is available at and wherever you find your podcasts.

For more information, contact Vanessa Cerillo at 413-735-6605 or

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