Journalism aside, I’ve always enjoyed public speaking, and especially public storytelling. When my family memoir, My Cousin the Saint, was published in 2008, I was invited to make scores of presentations to a variety of groups, ranging from churches to civic clubs to book clubs to college campuses. I gave more than 100 public talks in the four years after my book was published, from Maine to Florida.
The Monti is a storytelling event founded and operated by Jeff Polish of Durham, N.C. It is modeled after the famous storytelling event in New York City called The Moth. In both, non-professional storytellers — usually five an evening — are invited to tell a personal story (without notes) before a live audience on a particular theme. My first story at a Monti held in a restaurant in Chapel Hill was a favorite story from my book regarding my Uncle Tony’s fabulous, miraculous tale from World War II in southern Italy.
In all, Jeff invited me to the Monti on five different occasions — three in the Triangle, two in Greensboro. I enjoyed each one. On January 30, 2016, I shared with an audience of 200+ at the Carrboro Arts Center a story I started telling immediately after it happened in the summer of 1972. A little league championship game played in Wildwood Crest, New Jersey, a motley group of teammates and an improbable throw from centerfield. That night was the first time Jeff videotaped the performances. I’m glad he did.