Love Stories, Live

Wanna slam your ex in front of a crowd? Read on.

Photos by Amy Dragoo

A trend is sweeping the country, called “Story Slams,” a live event based on the simple formula of great storytelling that anyone and everyone can take a crack at. I caught up with the founder of West Chester Story Slam, Jim Breslin, to get the scoop.

It started with Poetry Slams – competitions at which poets read or recite original work. These performances are then judged on a numeric scale by previously selected members of the audience. These Slams began in the mid ’80s in Chicago and soon spread to other cities. Story Slams, which follow the same general guidelines, started soon after that. In Philadelphia, First Person Arts began running 2 Story Slams a month.

Jim had “become hooked on listening to storytelling podcasts, such as This American Life and The Moth, based out of New York City.”

And, it started with a tweet. “One day, I sent a tweet out asking if anyone knew of a Story Slam in this area.”

The result? West Chester’s lovable techie nerd and blogger, John Young ( retweeted that he didn’t know of one but, if Jim created one, he would be interested.

With that, Jim sent e-mails, tweets and Facebook posts to friends and fellow writers and had a trial run at his house in November. “We had 11 storytellers and their friends in my living room telling stories on the theme “New Beginnings.” We had so much fun that night, I knew I’d have to find a public space.”

Stories should fit into the theme of the night.

Stories should be true as you remember it.

Stories should be no longer than 5 minutes in length.

No Notes, No Props, No Music.

That’s right, folks – No notes.

The first public story slam was held in early January on the second floor of Ryan’s Pub and left standing-room only for attendees.

“The theme was ‘Embarrassing Moments’ and 8 storytellers told some marvelous and funny stories. Although technically it is a competition with judges and scoring, the focus is to make it an entertaining night for the audience. I’m excited for our February Story Slam, with the theme of ‘Love Hurts.’ I think we’ll hear a broader range of stories – some funny ones, but I’m sure some touching stories as well.”

Check out this video from last time about an embarrassing ex.

Want to give it a go?

The next West Chester Story Slam is February 9th at 7 P.M. at Ryan’s Pub, 118 W. Gay Street, West Chester

The Theme: Love Hurts! Come tell a story or listen to stories.

If you would like to tell a story, register upon arrival. Ten names will be drawn out of a hat to decide order of presentation.

The Judging: Three judges are selected from the audience. Each storyteller is given a score on a scale of 1-10 based on content and presentation. The storyteller with the highest score wins and is given a spot in November’s Grand Slam.

The winner of the last story slam was Shirley Landis Van Scoyk, who told her story of raising pigs. You can see videos of storytellers from last month’s slam at