Each year, we invite storytellers of every kind—poets, journalists, filmmakers, dramatists, comedians, novelists—to come to campus to tell stories on a particular theme. Join us for remarkable evenings with some of the best storytellers in America. Details below. 

Upcoming Events

Words and Silences: An Evening with Naomi Shihab Nye and Ryushin Paul Haller

Friday, March 8, 2019
7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Cubberly Auditorium

How can we stay true to what we care about through the words and silences of our everyday lives? Join award-winning poet Naomi Shihab Nye and Ryushin Paul Haller, former abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center, for an evening that will bring together poetic and contemplative traditions to explore how simple engagements with language and stillness can help us find not only our place and path and but also draw us close to blessings beyond knowing. Discover with these two renowned teachers how to belong to your own lexicon, engage intimately with silence, and listen to yourself and all that is given.

Naomi Shihab Nye describes herself as a “wandering poet”, having spent 40 years traveling the country and the world to lead writing workshops and inspiring students of all ages. Drawing on her Palestinian-American heritage, the cultural diversity of her home in Texas, and her travels, Nye uses her writing to attest to our shared humanity. She is the author or editor of more than thirty volumes of poetry, essays, and stories and has received many awards, including a Lavan Award from the Academy of American Poets, the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award, and four Pushcart Prizes. Her collection 19 Varieties of Gazelle was a finalist for the National Book Award.

Ryushin Paul Haller is a senior teacher and former abbot at the San Francisco Zen Center. Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, he teaches throughout the U.S. and Europe and has led mindfulness programs to assist with mental illness and recovery. He has also helped bring contemplative practices into many communities, including prisons and schools, and has had a long involvement with the Zen Hospice Project.


June 6, 7pm and 9pm
Elliott Program Center
Free and open to the public

Join us for an unforgettable evening of live storytelling! Students will perform stories they’ve developed throughout the quarter in the course StoryCraft, taught by TAPS faculty and improv guru Dan Klein and director Michelle Darby.

StoryNight is free and open to the public. Come early: hot chocolate and chai will be served before the performance!

There are two showtimes: 7pm and 9pm (each one hour long). They will feature different student stories, so come to both if you can! 

Past Events

To Sleep To Dream by EarFilmsEarFilms

April 7, 7:30pm; April 8 4:30pm and 7:30pm; April 9, 1:30pm and 4:30pm
Bing Concert Hall Studio
Tickets required

You’ve never done this at a concert hall before: blindfolded, you’re earwitness to a new theatrical sensation. To Sleep to Dream is an EarFilm, an immersive audioplay with narration, acting, and music within a three-dimensional listening environment customized for the Bing Studio. The plot: it’s the future, and a totalitarian government outlaws dreaming. A rebel fights back. Join him. Take a break from screen time. Dare to dream again!

This even is co-sponsored by Stanford Live

The W. Kamau Bell Curve: Ending Racism In About An Hour

W. Kamau Bell
United Shades of America

February 17, 8pm
Cemex Auditorium
Ticket reservations are sold out.

If you have a ticket:
Doors will open for Stanford University ID holders at 7:15 pm. Doors will open for the public at 7:30 pm. Please arrive at least 10 minutes before the event starts. Your ticket may be released to the standby line if you do not arrive by 7:50 pm.

If you don’t have a ticket:
We set aside some additional seats, which will be available right before the event starts on a first-come first-served basis. There will be a separate standby line for SUID holders – who will receive extra seats first – then the public – who will receive any remaining seats.

W. Kamau Bell is a critically acclaimed sociopolitical comedian. Host of the Emmy Award nominated, hit CNN docu-series United Shades of America. Host of the public radio show Kamau Right Now! on KALW in San Francisco. Co-host of two podcasts: Denzel Washington is The Greatest Actor of All Time Period and Politically Re-Active. The New York Times called Kamau “the most promising new talent in political comedy in many years.”

This event is co-sponsored by ITALIC. 

Winter Workshops: Valentine’s DayWinter Workshops flyer

February 14, 7pm
Roble Arts Gym

Join the Stanford Storytelling Project this Valentine’s Day for a workshop on telling your most hilarious and cringeworthy love stories!

Bring a date, bring a friend, or bring yourself! Any which way, there will be chocolate and desserts! 

The Beautiful Art of Failure with Anthony Doerr

Anthony Doerr
All the Light We Cannot See

February 7, 7:30pm
Cemex Auditorium
Ticket reservations are sold out.

If you have a ticket:
Doors will open for Stanford University ID holders at 7:00 pm. Doors will open for the public at 7:10 pm. Please arrive at least 10 minutes before the event starts. Your ticket may be released to the standby line if you do not arrive by 7:20 pm.

If you don’t have a ticket:
We set aside some additional seats, which will be available right before the event starts on a first-come first-served basis. There will be a separate standby line for SUID holders – who will receive extra seats first – then the public – who will receive any remaining seats.

Anthony Doerr was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. He is the author of the story collections The Shell Collector and Memory Wall, the memoir Four Seasons in Rome, and the novels About Grace and All the Light We Cannot See, which was awarded the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for fiction and the 2015 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction.

The Graphic Novel as Narrative History: GB Tran on “Vietnamerica”Anthony Doerr

Jan 25th | Noon | A3C
Lunch Served | RSVP required | Stanford undergraduates only

Come hear Eisner nominated cartoonist GB Tran discuss his graphic memoir, “Vietnamerica.” Randomly selected attendees will receive a free copy of Tran’s book to read prior to the talk. Sponsored by the Program in Asian American Studies and the Stanford Storytelling Project. 

Open Mic NightOpen Mic Night

On Thursday, October 27, from 6-8PM in the Hume Center lounge, The Stanford Storytelling Project and the Spoken Word Collective invite you to join them for an Open Mic on the theme of “navigating.” Whether it’s navigating a trip or adventure, navigating a new place, or even navigating memories, we want to hear your thoughts and stories! Hot chocolate and homemade brownies will be provided.

The Pilgrim Way: The Contemplative Foundations of a Future Life with David Whyte

David Whyte
The Sea in You

November 10, 7:00pm
Memorial Church
Free tickets reservable here

Join poet David Whyte for an evening looking at the great questions of human life through the eyes of the pilgrim: someone passing through relatively quickly, someone looking for the biggest context they can find or imagine, and someone subject to the vagaries of wind and weather along the way. David will explore the theme of internal resilience, the necessity for following a certain star not seen or perceived by anyone else, an internal migration, a path running parallel to the outer road keeping any outward journey in the world relevant and true. He will look at the necessity for hardiness, for shelter, for risk, for companionship, for vulnerability; for creating a more beautiful mind and the absolute need to ask for help at transition points combined with an ability to recognize when it is being offered and the humor, humility and open hands necessary to receive it.

David Whyte is the author of eight books of poetry and four books of prose. He is an Associate Fellow at Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford and the recipient of an honorary doctorate from Neumann College, Pennsylvania. David brings his poetry to large audiences around the world, and is one of the few poets to bring his work into the field of organizational development.

This event is part of the week-long Contemplation by Design series in early November and is co-sponsored Stanford’s BeWell program.  Whyte will give two other talks on the same day: “What to Remember When Waking: The Disciplines of Everyday Life” at 12 noon and “Solace: The Art of Asking the Beautiful Question” at 4pm. See the Contemplation By Design website for more information.

Making HELLBOY: Mike Mignola in Conversation with Scott Bukatman

Mike Mignola

October 13, 7:30pm
Jordan Hall
*Seating is Limited*. Doors open for Students and Stanford Affiliates at 7:10pm;  General Admission is at 7:20pm

Join us for a special evening with renowned comic artist and writer Mike Mignola who discuss his magnum opus, HELLBOY (Dark Horse Comics) and other works. Mignola has written and illustrated HELLBOY from the series’ beginnings in 1993, and has also collaborated on other comics series set in the same fictional universe — what is called the Mignola-verse. Mignola has challenged the superhero franchises of DC and Marvel comics and helped loosen their control over the comics industry by developing a startlingly rich and coherent creator-owned universe; one that has been adapted to film, animation, and video games. His work has won numerous industry awards, including the Eisner, Harvey, Eagle, Inkpot and Inkwell awards.

The LA Review of Books writes that Mignola’s HELLBOY offers “a blend of raw cartooning, elegant design, pulp revivalism, superhero action, Lovecraftian weirdness, and oddly personal forays into folklore, mythology, and legend.” The LA Times writes that “few creators have the ability to conjure up whole worlds at the mention of their name, but the fantasy world of the Mignola-verse is a very real place with a style and host of characters uniquely its own.”

Mignola will be in conversation with Stanford Professor of Film and Media Studies, Scott Bukatman, who recently published HELLBOY’S WORLD: Comics and Monsters on the Margins (UC Press, 2016) which Junot Diaz calls “a revelation . . . as complex, challenging and ‘monstrous’ as the comics it explores.”

This event is jointly sponsored with  the Graphic Narrative Project, with generous support from Film and Media Studies in the Department of Art and Art History, The Program in Modern Thought and Literature, and the English Department. 

Billy Collins and Aimee MannBilly Collins and Aimee Mann

Saturday April 23, 2016, 8:00pm
Dinkelspiel Auditorium, Stanford University
Doors will open at 7:30PM
Free & open to the public but reservations required, preference to Stanford undergraduates and Stanford ID holders

Former U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins and singer-songwriter Aimee Mann met in 2011 at a Poetry Night event at the White House. From that initial encounter grew an idea to create a single evening of poetry, song, and conversation about their respective art forms. In this very special joint appearance, Collins and Mann will trade poems and songs, even try out their work in each other’s form, and discuss their respective forms and creative processes, offering insight into surprising differences and similarities, Join us for a rare evening with this unlikely pair of masters and discover something new about two of the oldest forms of storytelling.

Author of 15 books of poetry, Billy Collins has opened the door to poetry for many modern readers through his conversational, humorous but profound renderings of everyday loves and losses. A former U. S. Poet Laureate, Guggenheim Fellow, and NEA Fellow, he has also received many prizes, including Norman Mailer Prize and the Poetry Foundation’s Mark Twain Award for Humor in Poetry.

Indie rocker Aimee Mann leapt to fame in the 1980s as part of the band ‘Til Tuesday and since then has won over audiences with her literate and often and haunting songwriting on 8 solo albums, soundtracks for films like Paul Thomas Anderson’s film Magnolia, and recent collaboration with Ted Leo, The Both. She has also appeared in the Coen brothers’ film The Big Lebowski and made cameo appearances on The West Wing and Portlandia.

“[Aimee Mann is] one of the finest songwriters of her generation.”—The New York Times

“Collins shows us the spirit inherent in our daily lives.”—San Francisco Chronicle

This is event is being cosponsored by the Stanford Speakers Bureau. 

Radiolab’s Jad AbumradJad Abumrad

Friday January 29, 2016, 8:00pm
Memorial Auditorium, Stanford University
Advanced tickets are sold out but a limited number of tickets will be available at door
Doors open for student ticket holders at 7:00 PM.
Doors open for public ticket holders at 7:30 PM.

In 2002, Jad Abumrad began to develop a new kind of radio experience, an on-air laboratory that explores the most intriguing mysteries in science, the natural world, and human experience. Over the next few years he and co-host Robert Krulwich created Radiolab, one of the most innovative radio shows on the dial—a sonically-rich, rollicking hour of largely scientific sleuthing, aptly sloganed “curiosity on a bender.”

Since then, Radiolab has not only become one of the most popular radio shows/podcasts in the country, but also helped create a wave of new, creative work in science and audio storytelling, and Abumrad has created, as Ira Glass has put it, “the rarest thing you can create in any medium: a new aesthetic.” Today, Radiolab is broadcast on more than 500 radio stations each week and downloaded more than 9 million times each month and it has received numerous awards, including two Peabodys. In 2011, Abumrad was awarded the MacArthur “Genuis” grant.

In this special, multimedia event, Abumrad will mix music, sound, interviews, and stories to produce an immersive experience that explores the creative process, uncertainty, and the nature of innovation. Join us for a night with one of America’s most inventive and influential storytellers.

This program is co-sponsored by The Stanford Storytelling Project and Stanford Speakers Bureau, with media support from KALW.

Cameron Esposito: Purveyor of Fine JokesCameron Esposito

Wednesday, January 6, 2016, 8:00pm
CEMEX Auditorium, Stanford University
Free admission; limited public seating
Doors will open for SUID holders at 7:30pm, doors for Public at 7:45pm

“Comedy’s next breakout star. She fuses the plucky charm of Amy Poehler with the assured storytelling of Louis C.K.”

—Chicago Magazine

Join us for an evening with standup comic, actor, and writer Cameron Esposito as she shares her “gift for plugging punch lines into personal stories” (New York Times). A regular guest on comedy podcasts including Comedy Bang Bang and Nerdist, Esposito is also creator and host of Put Your Hands Together, a weekly standup podcast recorded live at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre and recently named to Rolling Stones’ “Best of Comedy Podcasts.” She has appeared on a number of television shows, most notably on Late Late with Craig Ferguson, an appearance that was deemed “the most memorable first time on a late night show for any comedian in recent history” (Splitsider). As a writer, she has been published by VICE, The Advocate, and THE AV CLUB, and has been featured in the publications such as the New York Times and Los Angeles Times. Her standup album, SAME SEX SYMBOL, was named to multiple “Best of” lists, and her performances have been enjoyed at festivals like Just for Laughs, Bonnaroo, Outsidelands, and SF Sketchfest.

This program is co-sponsored by The Stanford Storytelling Project and Immersion in the Arts: Living in Culture (ITALIC).

Anna Deavere Smith

Anna Deveare Smith

Tuesday October 27, 7:30pm
Memorial Auditorium, Stanford University
Free and open to the public, but seating is limited
Doors Open at 6:30

For more than three decades Anna Deavere Smith has brought to life the voices of America, in all their complexity, contradiction, and beauty and in doing so she has helped pioneer an art form that has profoundly affected audiences across the country. In this special conversation, Smith will discuss her process, her search for the “other” in the American landscape, and how her work relates to health and the healing process—the way it invites us to begin making things whole. She will also reflect on and answer questions about her three performances for Stanford Live in the month of October: Twilight Los Angeles 1992, Letter from Birmingham Jail, and The Pipeline Project.

Anna Deavere Smith is an actress, playwright, and author, who has created a unique form of social theater, described as “a blend of theatrical art, social commentary, journalism, and intimate reverie.” Looking at controversial events from multiple points of view, Ms. Smith’s plays combine the journalistic technique of interviewing her subjects with the art of interpreting their words through her performance. She typically conducts hundreds of interviews while creating a play, then using verbatim excerpts of the interviews, she performs dozens of voices in the course of an evening. Ms. Smith is University Professor at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. From 1990 to 2000, she was Ann O’Day Maples Professor of the Arts at Stanford. She has won numerous awards for her work including two TONY nominations and the MacArthur Award. In 2006, she was granted the Fletcher Fellowship for the way her work advances the legacy of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision.

This program is co-sponsored by The Stanford Storytelling Project and Stanford Continuing Studies and is supported by Stanford Live and the Office of Religious Life.

The 5 Powers: Superheroes of Peace

The 5 Powers: Superheroes of Peace

Friday October 9, 6:30pm
Film Screening and Panel Discussion
Cubberley Auditorium, Stanford University
Link to map
This is a ticketed event—see below for details
Doors open to ticket holders at 6:00PM

From Spiderman to the Hulk, numerous superhero origin stories tell of a character’s interaction with an unknown element that effects a radical transformation. This change often leads to heightened senses, enhanced abilities, and the sense of a greater mission that transcends our individual selves. Although this path is a familiar trope in the realm of “fantasy,” it exists in the real world as well. It is a profound yet simple notion: each of us can be a superhero. Like the spider that bit Peter Parker, we can tap into a real life element called mindfulness to have better concentration, self-awareness, and impulse control. Mindfulness has also been scientifically proven to help us feel calm and increase empathy for others.

Inspired by Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1957 comic book The Montgomery Story, which informed and influenced a civil rights movement, the animated film The 5 Powers tells the story of three inspiring individuals who used the power of mindfulness for peace during the turbulent Vietnam War. We learn about our main character’s journey towards mastery of the five powers through the experiences of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, Sister Chan Khong, and their friends Alfred Hassler and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Please join The Stanford Storytelling Project, the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE), and Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s international community of monks and nuns for a special screening and discussion of The 5 Powers on Friday, October 9 at 6:30pm at Stanford University’s Cubberley Auditorium. Learn how to access the power of mindfulness to effect change within oneself and the world. Click here for more info about The 5 Powers.

This event is co-sponsored by The Stanford Storytelling Project, the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE). All proceeds from ticket sales go towards supporting event costs.

James Pennebaker



Tuesday, May 12, 2015, 7:30pm
Cubberley Auditorium, Stanford University
Free Admission

For more than thirty years, social psychologist James Pennebaker has been helping us understand the psychological impact of the stories we tell. Building on an early discovery that keeping secrets can make people sick, Pennebaker developed a rich account of how people could improve their physical and mental health by writing about their deepest secrets, trauma, and other experiences. This research, described in Opening Up: The Healing Power of Expressing Emotion and Writing to Heal, served as the foundation for Pennebaker’s development of expressive writing, a practice widely used today in many clinical settings.

Most recently, Pennebaker has become intrigued by how we reveal ourselves in our spoken and written language. In his latest book, The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us, he traces the links between seemingly insignificant function words and our social and psychological states, a remarkable and often unexpected journey into the minds of authors, poets, lyricists, politicians, and everyday people through their use of words. He describes masterfully how the language of our stories leaves indelible fingerprints of personality, our relationships and backgrounds, and even our plans for the future. Join us for an evening with one of the most insightful psychologists in America and learn how to perceive the stories that we are unconsciously telling each other all the time.

James Pennebaker
Regents Centennial Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology, University of Texas at Austin

James Pennebaker is a social psychologist and a consultant to businesses, medical schools, and various federal agencies that address corporate and national security issues. He is the author or editor of ten books and nearly 300 scientific articles and ranks among the most cited researchers in psychology, psychiatry, and the social sciences.

This program was co-sponsored by The Stanford Storytelling Project and Stanford Continuing Studies.

Maria Bamford

Maria Bamford (1)
Maria Bamford (2)

Monday, January 26, 2015, 8:00pm
CEMEX Auditorium, Stanford University
Free Admission; Limited public seating
Doors will open for SUID holders at 7:30PM, doors for Public at 7:45

Maria Bamford can be seen this fall on USA’s new sitcom “Benched.” She is the creator and star of “Maria Bamford: the special, special, special!” and starred in both the film and Comedy Central series “Comedians of Comedy.” She voices characters on numerous animated series including “BoJack Horseman,” “Adventure Time,” “Word Girl,” “Puss in Boots” and “Legend of Korra” and recently recurred as DeBrie Bardeaux on Netflix’s “Arrested Development.”

For more information, visit http://events.stanford.edu/events/474/47419/

Cheryl Strayed

Cheryl Strayed

Tiny Beautiful Things

Tuesday, January 13, 2015, 7:30pm
CEMEX Auditorium, Stanford University
Free Admission; priority seating for Stanford students

“Big-hearted, keen-eyed, lyrical, precise … Cheryl Strayed reminds us in every line that if defeat and despair are part of human experience, so are kindness, patience, and transcendence.” –George Saunders

At age 22, Cheryl Strayed found herself shattered by two major life events: her mother’s sudden death from cancer and the end of her young marriage. After hitting rock bottom, she decided to confront her emotional pain by trekking more than 1,000 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail. In 2012, the story of that journey became the New York Times bestseller Wild, a memoir so rich in honesty, humor, and lyricism that it inspired Oprah Winfrey to restart her book club and Reese Witherspoon to bring it to the screen this winter.

In addition to Wild, Cheryl Strayed is the author of the New York Times bestseller Tiny Beautiful Things, a collection of her popular “Dear Sugar” columns for The Rumpus, and the acclaimed novel Torch, a finalist for the Great Lakes Book Award. Her writing has also appeared in The Best American Essays, The New York Times Magazine, Vogue, Allure, The Sun, and elsewhere. She is a founding member of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts and serves on its board of directors.

Join us for an evening with one of the most gifted and fiercely honest storytellers in America today.

This program is co-sponsored by The Stanford Storytelling Project and Stanford Continuing Studies.

An Evening with Chris Ware and Marjane Satrapi

Chris Ware
Marjane Satrapi
Building Stories
Tony Hoagland Book

Thursday, November 6, 2014, 7:30pm
Cemex Auditorium, Zambrano Hall, Stanford University
Free Admission; priority seating for Stanford students

Join us for an evening with award-winning graphic novelists Chris Ware and Marjane Satrapi, two artists whose style has not only charted new territory for the medium but also influenced storytellers of every stripe.

Chris Ware is the author of Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth (2000), which received an American Book Award, the Guardian First Book Award and the French comics award L’Alph Art, and Building Stories (2012), a New York Times bestseller and winner of four Eisner Awards. He has also been a contributor to The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, and McSweeney’s and is currently at work on three different graphic novels of varying length and a monograph for Rizzoli Books. His limited-run, online serial The Last Saturday debuted this fall on the website of The Guardian newspaper.

Marjane Satrapi is the author of Persepolis (2000), which has been translated into more than 40 languages and was adapted into an Academy Award–nominated animated film (2007). Her graphic novel, Chicken with Plums (2004), was adapted in 2011 as a live-action film that won awards at both the Abu Dhabi Film Festival and São Paulo International Film Festival. Satrapi is also the author of Embroideries and several children’s books, including Monsters Are Afraid of the Moon, and she has her first painting exhibition in 2013. She has increasingly turned to directing film, including Gang of the Jotas (2013) and The Voices (2014), starring Ryan Reynolds.

The Moth Mainstage: Learning Curves

The Moth

The Moth

Friday, October 17, 2014, 7:30PM
Doors will open at 6:30PM
Dinkelspiel Auditorium, Stanford University
471 Lagunita Dr.

Students: $5
Faculty/Staff: $25
Public: $38

One of America’s most beloved radio shows,The Moth Mainstage features stories by luminaries in the arts and sciences, newsmakers and news breakers, and every day heroes (and even a few reformed villains). Each Moth Mainstage show features five storytellers who develop and shape their stories with the Moth’s directors. Beyond a mere theatrical experience, The Moth is an ever-growing community where entertainment, enlightenment and festivity merge.

This program is presented by The Stanford Storytelling Project and KALW: 91.7FM San Francisco

An Evening with Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie

The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie

Friday, April 25, 2014, 7:30pm
Cemex Auditorium, Zambrano Hall, Stanford University
Facebook Event

“One of the major lyric voices of our time”—The New York Times

Winner of the National Book Award, Sherman Alexie has been by described by The New York Times as “one of the major lyric voices of our time.” Starting with his acclaimed debut novel, Reservation Blues, nearly twenty years ago, Alexie has created a small personal canon of irreverent, unblinking, and deeply humane stories, poems, and films about the “in-between” experience of Native Americans today.

Alexie’s novels, poetry, and story collections, including The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian, Flight, War Dances, Face, Ten Little Indians, and Dangerous Astronomy, have won many awards, including Publisher’s Weekly Book of the Year Award, Booklist’s Editor’s Choice Award, the PEN/Malamud Award, the Pushcart Prize, and the PEN/Faulkner Award. His most recent collection of stories, Blasphemy, was named one of the best books of the year by Kirkus Reviews, The New York Times, and NPR. Alexie has also written and produced films, including Smoke Signals, based on his book, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, which won the Audience Award and Filmmakers Trophy at the 1998 Sundance Film festival.

On this occasion, Alexie will discuss his faith in stories and the power they bring into our lives. Join us for special evening with one of America’s most gifted storytellers.

This program is co-sponsored by The Stanford Storytelling Project and Stanford Continuing Studies.

An Evening with Tig Notaro

Tig Notaro

Tig Notaro Album

Tuesday, March 4, 2014, 7:00pm
Cubberley Auditorium, Stanford University
Limited public seating: Doors will open for SUID holders at 6:30PM, doors for Public at 6:45

“… an amazing example of what comedy can be. A way to visit your worst fears and laugh at them.” –Louis C.K.

Join us for an evening of superb comedy with the deeply funny Tig Notaro, a favorite and regular on Conan and on public radio’s This American Life. Her Grammy-nominated sophomore album, LIVE, sold over 100,000 copies in just 6 weeks, which is unheard of for comedy albums today. She has appeared in a number of television shows, most notably as “Officer Tig” in The Sarah Silverman Program and in the recent hit movie, In A World. These days, Tig co-hosts the podcast Professor Blastoff, and performs regularly at the Hollywood Improv, the UCB Theater, and Largo at The Coronet Theater in her monthly show, Tig Notaro and Friends. . . and of course, headlining festivals, clubs, colleges, theaters, and living rooms across the universe.

Funded in part by the generous support of the Stanford Arts Institute.

This program is co-sponsored by The Stanford Storytelling Project and Immersion in the Arts: Living in Culture (ITALIC)

Deep Shapes for New Times: An Evening with Martin shaw and Tony Hoagland

Martin Shaw
Tony Hoagland
Martin Shaw Book
Tony Hoagland Book

Thursday, February 13, 2014, 7:30pm
Cubberley Auditorium, Stanford University
Free, open to the public

“Myth,” says acclaimed storyteller Martin Shaw, “is not about a long time ago.” Created communally, over time, in full contact with the natural world, myth is instead a particular way of understanding ourselves and our world that offers new routes through the binds of the modern world.  “Poetry,” says acclaimed poet Tony Hoagland, “offers a clarifying force through its similar use of polymorphic and enduring images.”  Together, myth and poetry understand us in an uncommon way.  

In this very special evening, Shaw and Hoagland will weave myth and poetry to reveal how the deep shapes of their stories give us surprising ways for meeting the challenges of contemporary culture.  Alongside select stories and poems, they will talk about the mysterious wisdom retained in these forms and how they can help us overcome the constraints that our culture imposes on our imaginations.  Shaw and Hoagland will also read and discuss some of the translations of old Celtic poetry they have been collaborating on over the last two years.

Martin Shaw, PhD, is author of A Branch from the Lightning Tree and the forthcoming Snowy Tower: Parzival and the Wet Black Branch of Language.  He is a master storyteller and currently Visiting Lecturer in the Oral Communication Program at Stanford. 

Tony Hoagland is the author of four collections of poems, and winner of many prizes, including the Mark Twain Award for Humor in American Poetry. He teaches at the University of Houston and elsewhere.

An Evening with Julie Snyder, Senior Producer of This American Life

Julie Snyder, This American Life
TAL logo

Wednesday, January 22, 2014, 7:30pm
Paul Brest Hall, Munger Graduate Center
Free, open to the public, but seating is limited

With almost 2 million listeners each week and the most downloaded podcast in America, This American Life is well known for using the traditional tools of journalism to document everyday life. But sometimes the show has flipped that equation by using the tools of personal narrative to document more traditional, topical “news” stories. Julie Snyder, the Senior Producer of This American Life, has produced and edited many of these kinds of stories—stories about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the financial crisis, the healthcare system and gun violence, among others. In this very special evening, she will talk about some of the successful ways she has learned to use personal narratives to tackle these kinds stories, and the challenges and pitfalls she has encountered along the way.

Julie Snyder joined the staff of This American Life in 1997, first as a producer and later becoming Senior Producer of the radio show and Executive Producer of the This American Life television show. As Senior Producer, she is responsible for finding and developing stories for the show and, with Ira Glass, establishing the show’s editorial direction and shaping its content. This American Life is heard on more than 500 public stations and has won several broadcasting awards, including the Peabody and DuPont-Columbia awards; its television show won an Emmy in for Outstanding Nonfiction Series. Before joining the show, Julie worked at WGN Radio in Chicago and as a news anchor and reporter at radio stations in Santa Cruz, California.

Never Lost: An Evening with Naomi Shihab Nye

Naomi Shihab Nye
Naomi Shihab Nye book

Tuesday, November 12, 2013, 7:30pm
Geology Corner (Building 320), Room 105
Free; no registration is required

We live in and through stories, and the best ones can ground us and provide abiding navigational tools throughout our lives. How, though, do we identify and live by these stories amidst the clamor of the news and the abundant chaos that surround us? And how do we then weave together the stories that guide us with the stories that surround us? Join us for a special evening with Naomi Shihab Nye, award-winning winning poet, writer, and educator, to explore these questions and to experience stories that invite us to fuller, authentic lives.

Naomi Shihab Nye is the author or editor of more than 30 volumes of poetry, essays, and stories, most recently There Is No Long Distance Now (2011) and Transfer (2011). Her work has won numerous awards, including a Lavan Award from the Academy of American Poets, four Pushcart Prizes, two Jane Addams Children’s Book Awards, and her collection 19 Varieties of Gazelle was a finalist for the National Book Award. She has been a Lannan Fellow and a Guggenheim Fellow and in January 2010 she was elected to the Board of Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets.

“In the current literary scene, one of the most heartening influences is the work of Naomi Shihab Nye. Her poems combine transcendent liveliness and sparkle along with warmth and human insight. She is a champion of the literature of encouragement and heart. Reading her work enhances life.” — William Stafford

This program is co-sponsored by The Stanford Storytelling Project and Stanford Continuing Studies.

QUESTIONS FOR Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket)


Wednesday, October 9, 2013, 7:30 pm
Cemex Auditorium
Stanford University
Free; no registration is required

The Stanford Storytelling Project is thrilled to announce our first event of this school year: an evening with Daniel Handler, author of Adverbs, The Basic Eight, and most recently, Why We Broke Up. Under the name Lemony Snicket he has also written two best-selling series A Series of Unfortunate Events and All the Wrong Questions. He is also a screenwriter, composer and the adjunct accordionist for the band The Magnetic Fields. His latest book, When Did You See Her Last, will be released on October 15th.

In this very special event we are choosing 2-3 Stanford students to appear on stage with Daniel Handler to interview him about his writing and creative life. We will choose these students based on 5 questions submitted on the  facebook event page, by 12 noon Sunday, October 6th. Questions may also be submitted to storytelling@stanford.edu. Winners will be announced that evening.

Finding Genius: An Evening with Michael Meade


Friday, April 19, 2013, 8:00 pm
Cubberley Auditorium
Stanford University
Free; no registration is required

The original idea of genius refers to the natural spirit and inner qualities of a person; this includes god-given talents as well as the way they are aimed at life. In that sense, everyone has a genius nature and something essential to give to the world. The inner genius is what our “calling” calls forth as it tries to become known throughout our life. Whether young or old, our job is to answer the call and risk our unique destiny. Enduring happiness requires that we awaken to the inner spirit that brought us to life in the first place. For when neglected or rejected our natural genius can incite our worst inner demons. Often, our genius waits to be found where the world seems most dark and fearful to us and following our genius always involves risk, but the greater risk is to live a life not aligned with one’s inborn spirit.

Join us for a special evening with mythologist Michael Meade to discover the territories in which genius can be found, and the qualities of genius, including: talents and skills as well as one’s natural style. We will consider the ways in which our genius will lead us into the “right trouble” and the ways that genius can trouble our lives in order to grow our soul.

Michael Meade, D.H.L., is a renowned storyteller, author, and mythologist. He is the author of Why the World Doesn’t End: Tales of Renewal in Times of Loss, Fate and Destiny: The Two Agreements of The Soul, and The Water of Life: Initiation and the Tempering of the Soul. He is the founder of Mosaic Multicultural Foundation, a nonprofit network of artists, activists, and healers who work with oppressed and at risk populations. Besides directing Mosaic’s innovative healing work, Meade serves as adjunct faculty at Pacifica Graduate Institute teaching intensives in mythology and psychology and is also a regular contributor to the Huffington Post.

Oh, Inverted World

Smuin Ballet

Thursday, April 11, 2013, 8:00 pm
Roble Gym, Studio 38
Stanford University
Open to Stanford students, faculty, and staff

Stanford Dance and The Stanford Storytelling Project present Smuin Ballet performing Trey McIntyre’s Oh, Inverted World, choreographed to music from The Shins’ album “Oh, Inverted World.”

Join us for a special evening of storytelling through dance with Smuin Ballet. Fresh from its New York premiere and back by popular demand, Smuin Ballet presents an encore workshop performance of Oh, Inverted World at Stanford University. Smuin Ballet commissioned the riveting Oh, Inverted World from acclaimed choreographer Trey McIntyre. Set to music by indie-rock band The Shins, this dynamic piece received its world premiere in San Francisco in October 2010. An innovative fusion of McIntyre’s fresh, impulsive choreography and The Shins’ distinctive style, Oh, Inverted World is a mesmerizing and lingering work, called “action-packed” “striking” and “remarkable” by the New York Times.

This program is co-sponsored by Stanford Dance and The Stanford Storytelling Project.

A Community of the Heart: An Evening with Coleman Barks and Martin Shaw


Friday, February 15, 2013, 7:30 pm
Memorial Church
Stanford University
Free; no registration is required

Join us for a special evening with poet Coleman Barks and storyteller Martin Shaw to explore the playfulness and intensity of the heart and its many secrets. Focusing particularly on Rumi, whose poetry so powerfully opens the heart, the evening will feature poetry, myth, jokes, and lively conversation about the place where language and feeling combine to make a caravanserai of longing. Two travelers tell of their dreams and invite you to join them. Bring your dancing shoes to hurl at the moon.

Coleman Barks is the author of numerous Rumi translations, including The Essential Rumi, and has been a student of Sufism since 1977. His work with Rumi was the subject of Bill Moyers’s Language of Life series on PBS, and he is a featured poet and translator in Moyers’s poetry special, Fooling with Words.

Dr. Martin Shaw is a mythologist and author of the award winning A Branch From the Lightning Tree: Ecstatic Myth and the Grace in Wildness. Director of the Westcountry School of Myth in the United Kingdom, he is also visiting lecturer in Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s leadership program at Oxford University.

This program is co-sponsored by The Stanford Storytelling Project and The Stanford Office for Religious Life.

Voices from the Front, An Evening of Stories with Stanford Veterans returning home from War

Dust Storm

Sunday, November 11, 2012, 5:00 – 6:30 pm
A3C Ballroom, Old Union
Stanford University
Free and open to the public.
Please RSVP to storytelling@stanford.edu

The Stanford Storytelling Project invites you to share an evening of personal stories, music, letters and conversation with Stanford student veterans recently returned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. While we hear almost daily about the large-scale effects of these wars in the news, we rarely hear about their profound effects on the lives of thousands of veterans and their families.

This Veterans Day, the Stanford community will have the chance to hear those stories. Stanford veterans and some of their family members will come together for a single special event, to share what they have experienced and learned both about war and about the journey home.

The evening will feature excerpts from the Storytelling Project’s audio documentary of these soldiers, “Returning Home,” produced by Xandra Clark and Natacha Ruck, which will be aired on KZSU 90.1FM at 6pm on November 12 and 14. Stream live at kzsulive.stanford.edu; download at storytelling.stanford.edu or on iTunes.

The event will be hosted by Xandra Clark, producer for the Stanford Storytelling and the discussion will be moderated by Joel Brinkley, Pulitzer Prize winner and former foreign correspondent for The New York Times. A reception will follow the program.

Join us for a rare perspective on war and help build a bridge between the civilian and military experiences.

This program is co-sponsored by The Stanford Storytelling Project, The Haas Center for Public Service and the Stanford Military Service Network.

An Afternoon with Ira Glass, host of This American Life

Ira Glass

Sunday, November 4, 2012,
2:00 pm
CEMEX Auditorium, Knight Management Center
Event sold out but check our Facebook Page to win tickets

In his first appearance at Stanford, This American Life creator and host Ira Glass will talk about what makes a compelling story and how he and his staff are trying to push broadcast journalism to do things it doesn’t usually do. On stage, Glass creates a kind of live version of the radio program, combining live commentary and narration with music and taped interviews. Sharing funny and memorable moments from the show, Glass will describe what was behind their creation, how he and his staff find and produce stories for the show, and what goes into great storytelling.

This American Life premiered on Chicago’s public radio station WBEZ in 1995, and is now heard on more than 500 public radio stations each week by over 1.7 million listeners. Most weeks, the podcast of the program is the most popular in America. The show also airs each week on the CBC in Canada and on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s radio network. Under Glass’s editorial direction, the program has won the highest honors for broadcasting and journalistic excellence, including several Peabody and DuPont-Columbia awards. The American Journalism Review declared that the show is “at the vanguard of a journalistic revolution.”

This program is co-sponsored by The Stanford Storytelling Project and the ASSU Speaker’s Bureau.

An Evening with David Whyte: Life at the Frontier: Human Identity and the Conversational Nature of Reality

David Whyte
David Whyte book

Thursday, May 10, 2012,
7:30 pm
CEMEX Auditorium, Knight Management Center
FREE; no registration is required

The truth is not the truth until it can be heard and recognized, no matter how well it is said, and one of the difficult truths is that human beings arrive at newness, revelation, and understanding through recognition of something already established within them. To tell the truth, therefore, is not to fire off the right ammunition at an established target, but rather to create a live frontier, a field of communion, between a deep internal core and something that, to begin with, looks like the otherness of the world. Living and breathing at this frontier is what most of our religious and contemplative traditions have called enlightenment. Join poet and philosopher David Whyte for what is sure to be an enlightening experience of this frontier through poetry, the imagination at play, and storytelling.

David Whyte
 is the author of six books of poetry and three books of prose. He also holds a degree in marine zoology and has traveled extensively, including living and working as a naturalist guide in the Galapagos Islands and leading anthropological and natural history expeditions in the Andes, the Amazon, and the Himalaya. He brings this wealth of experience to his poetry, lectures, and workshops. His most recent books are The Three Marriages, River Flow, and Crossing the Unknown Sea.

This program is co-sponsored by The Stanford Storytelling Project and Stanford Continuing Studies.

“Making up the Truth” with Jack Hitt

Jack Hitt
Jack Hitt Poster

FRIDAY, MAY 4, 2012, 7:30PM
Cubberley Auditorium
FREE; no registration is required

In his new solo show, Jack Hitt tells extravagant, almost unbelievable, true stories that take him from his early childhood in South Carolina (where his flamboyant neighbor, a British novelist, became global news as one of the world’s first transsexuals) through his trek to New York (where his apartment super kept a deadly secret identity). “Making Up the Truth” weaves these and other stories together with the latest experiments in cognitive research. Scientists of the mind are now studying the mechanics of how we all narrate our own stories in our brains, and Jack searches them out to answer the question everyone always asks him, “Why do these things always happen to you?” They don’t, the experiments show. We are all making up the truth, often to shield ourselves from what Jack discovers: the uncanny wonders that lie just beyond our brain’s notice. And that tale, it turns out, is another extravagant, almost unbelievable, true story.

Jack Hitt is a contributing writer for Harper’s and GQ. He also writes for The New York Times Magazine, Outside, and Mother Jones, and contributes frequently to public radio’s This American Life.

This program is co-sponsored by The Stanford Storytelling Project and Stanford Continuing Studies.

An Evening with Peter Guber


Tuesday, April 17, 2012, 7:30PM
CEMEX Auditorium, Knight Management Center
FREE; no registration is required

Today, all of us—whether we know it or not—are in the emotional transportation business. More and more, success is achieved by using compelling stories that move audiences—media, donors, consumers, and employees—to action. In this special event, executive, entrepreneur, and bestselling author Peter Guber will share what he has learned over decades in the entertainment and communications industries about finding and telling authentic stories that make deep emotional connections with audiences. Through his own entertaining and enlightening stories, Guber will share how to capture the attention of your audience, connect your story to the audience’s self interest, and especially how to turn passive listeners into active advocates for your cause. Join us for an evening that will demonstrate how to transform information into compelling narrative and will empower you to employ purposeful storytelling as your “secret sauce” to propel greater good and social change.

Peter Guber is Chairman and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment
 and has been a producer or the executive producer of five films that have received Best Picture Academy Award nominations. His box office hits include The Color Purple, Midnight Express, Batman, Flashdance, and The Kids Are All Right. He is a professor at UCLA, and is the owner and co-executive chairman of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors. His newest book, Tell to Win, became an instant #1 New York Times bestseller.

This program is co-sponsored by The Stanford Storytelling Project, Stephanie and Fred Harman, and Stanford Continuing Studies.