Alibi V.12 No.30 • July 24-30, 2003 

Art Article

Tamarind King
Tamarind King

There are few skills more useful than the ability to tell a whoppin' good yarn. If you really want to make friends and influence your enemies, one of the best ways to do it is to tell a good story.

Of course, telling a story is an art form in itself. Nobody understands that better than Tamarind King, an extraordinary young lady who recently won the 2003 National Youth Storytelling Olympics.

The 14-year-old Albuquerque resident was one of three kids from New Mexico who competed at the Olympics in Hanford, Calif. In the end, Tamarind beat out her competition with a story called "The Signifying Monkey."

"It's a really old folk tale that evolved into a street poem because so many people told it," she says. "It's about this monkey that gets a lion into a fight with an elephant by telling him gossip. The lion gets mad at the monkey, but the monkey outwits him in the end."

Tamarind found out she would be competing at the Olympics on Feb. 14, which is both her birthday and African-American Day. No funds were available to get her or the other New Mexican storytellers to the competition, so Tamarind created and sold her own stationary, and also took part in two storytelling fundraisers.

A talent for storytelling runs deep in the King family. Tamarind's mom, Ramona, has worked as a professional storyteller for many years, even performing at the White House while Clinton was in office.

Although Tamarind will perform at the 31st National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tenn., this October, she has no interest in pursuing storytelling professionally. She's more interested in puppeteering, visual arts and fiction writing. Whatever path she chooses, there can be little doubt that this talented, hardworking young lady will meet with plenty of success.