Renowned Storyteller Holds Workshop at Berkshire

By Stuart Miller '97
English Department Chair

32-time Moth StorySLAM champion and four-time GrandSLAM champion, Matthew Dicks visited Berkshire on October 2nd to work with our fourth formers (sophomores) on the craft of oral storytelling.

As part of Berkshire's visiting writing series, the English Department and Writing Center was thrilled to invite Matthew Dicks back to campus after his work last year with ceramics students. Dicks's workshop this year was a blend of stories (stories that made us laugh, then cry, then laugh a bit more, and finally see the importance of little moments) and sage advice on how to engage an audience, particularly establishing personal connections in service of conveying a specific message.

Bebe Bullock '86, fourth form teacher, spoke of the value of the workshop beyond just storytelling: "The students and I found that, while the techniques were designed for good narrative and creative writing, they were equally translatable to analytical, persuasive, and expository writing."

William Warlick '20: "His workshop really resonated with me because it will help me to think of meaningful stories of my own to tell."

While Dicks's workshop on the craft of storytelling was timely regarding the fourth formers' work on memoirs and Moth stories, it was Dicks's (Homework) For Life message that resonated most with those in the audience—adults and students alike.

"He taught us not only how to tell stories, but also how to appreciate friends and family," reflected Allegra Giordano '20.

Dicks challenged the audience do some "Homework for life." Take five minutes at the end of each day and write down one memorable moment, nothing elaborate, just a few words. What made today different than yesterday? It is the little moments, the 2:00 a.m.-my-15-year-old-dog-needs-a-walk-and-it-starts-pouring-while-I'm-standing-at-the-corner-in-just-my-boxers moments, where we can find the greatest meaning says Dicks. Don't let these slip away. Save them and time will never feel like it is flying by.

Immediately following his talk, faculty and students could be heard accepting his challenge. "It is a valuable way for me," shared a student from Mrs. Bellizzi's English IV class, "to keep memories locked down for life and not let them fly away like dreams."

"Over the last couple days since his visit, the students have been abuzz as we discuss Mr. Dicks' ideas," added Bebe Bullock '86 during an English meeting. As fourth formers do their "Homework for life" and implement lessons learned from Dicks over the next few weeks, keep an ear out for some future Moth storytellers.