Friday, April 27, 2018

Meet Iceland's premier storyteller, Ingi Hans

Fridjon, Ingi Hans, Michael Williams
This week on the Teller and the Tale, host Michael Williams meets Iceland's premier storyteller Ingi Hans.

"When I shared news of my upcoming journey to Iceland, one of my storytelling colleagues, Karen Gummo from Calgary, got in touch and recommended I connect with Ingi Hans. Karen has Icelandic ancestry and she'd been to visit Ingi at his Storyteller's Lodge in Grundurfjordur several years earlier. I contacted Iceland's Tourism people and got a contact for Ingi. We connected and arranged to meet up when I was there.

My brother and I arrived in Grundarfjordur on Good Friday and settled into our farm B&B. Coincidentally, our host knew Ingi (not surprising in a small village). In fact, Ingi was our host's uncle. The next morning, Ingi and his 10-year old grandson Fridjon welcomed us with a tour of their home, including showing us Ingi's wonderful collection of 1950s and 60s toys, pointing out that every single toy has a story behind it. He and Fridjon also showed us a large puppet theatre that Ingi had made for his grandchildren, while Fridjon demonstrated the levers and showed us how the puppets could be moved about on stage. Obviously, storytelling runs in this family.

After our tour, we sat down at the kitchen table while Ingi prepared coffee -- a traditional Icelandic custom when welcoming guests -- and the conversation ensued. Ingi shared how he learned the art of mimicry and storytelling while sitting listening to the local fishermen. He is a virtual keeper of the village's history and its inhabitants. There's was also a strong bond of affection between grandfather and grandson and at Fridjon's urging, Ingi shared a much-loved story about Stirling the Cat, which you can hear during the show.

I could have continued listening to Ingi all day but after an hour or so (and several cups of strong coffee) my brother and I had to go and begin our long journey to the city of Akureyri in the north of the country -- and the spring-like weather of the morning had just reverted to a heavy, wintery snowfall.

Meeting Ingi and his grandson has been one of my favourite interviews and I will always treasure the memory of their hospitality and sharing of stories." Michael Williams

Listen to Michael's interview with Icelandic storyteller Ingi Hans on The Teller and the Tale beginning Sunday 29 April 2018 at 7am EDT (Canada/US), 12 noon (UK/Ireland) and 9pm (Australia) only on Blues and Roots Radio (

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