From classroom to stage: Odyssey represents in The Moth StorySLAM

Marisol with flowers

Each month, people gather in Madison to watch storytellers match “wits and words” at The Moth StorySLAM competitions, and Odyssey students and alumni are often found not only in the audience but in the stage’s spotlight as well.

This year, Odyssey student Marisol Gonzalez was among 10 finalists who earned a coveted spot in the series’ annual GrandSLAM championship, telling a story that fit with the event’s theme, “Blessings in Disguise.”

Listen to Marisol Gonzalez discuss one of her previous winning stories and how Odyssey’s English 100 course helped her develop it.

Madison is one of only two Wisconsin cities that are part of The Moth, a New York City-based nonprofit organization dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling. Odyssey’s connections with the organization are deep and longstanding.

In 2015, Kevin Mullen tapped Jen Rubin, a local storyteller, Odyssey tutor, Moth enthusiast, and event co-producer, to teach a three-part workshop to his Onward Odyssey English 100 class focusing on building storytelling skills. Rubin brought in working storytellers to provide feedback to students as they developed their stories and helped students learn to perform those stories. Nearly 10 years later, that partnership is still going strong.

Jen has also brought her storytelling workshop to Odyssey Beyond Bars students at Oakhill, Racine, and Green Bay prisons with the help of other writers and storytellers including Brendon Panke, Ali Muldrow, Nestor Gomez, Jimmy Guteriez, and Dasha Kelly Hamilton.

And every Moth StorySLAM event has 20 tickets set aside for Odyssey alumni. As more and more Odyssey students and alumni have gained experience and confidence with oral storytelling through the Onward Odyssey writing class, the Odyssey presence is loud and proud at most Moth events. Program alumni have served as volunteers (Char Braxton), performers/competitors (Jessica Jacobs, Mark Espanol, Takeyla Benton, and Marisol Gonzalez-Rodriguez, among others), official photographer for The Moth events (Hedi LaMarr), and dedicated audience members and cheerleaders (Ericka Booey).

Odyssey students at the Moth Grandslam event in October 2022.

Enjoy some wonderful storytelling for The Moth from more of Odyssey’s own: Lenora Rodin, Victor Rojas, and Jessica Jacobs.

Don’t miss the next Moth StorySLAM on Dec. 12 at the High Noon Saloon. You might run into Odyssey students, alumni, and/or staff!

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