Friday, Feb. 17 saw a couple dozen guests snugly seated in the cozy interior of the Buffalo Street Downtown Deli. Everyone there was gathered to listen or participate in ETSU Tale Teller’s monthly Story Slam event.

To kick off the evening, the event host, “Brando The Great,” explained the rules of the game.

“Anyone who wants to participate can put their name in my hat and I will draw out a name each round. If your name is called it will be your turn to share your story with us,” Brando said.

Every month the Story Slam features a different theme that participants must base their story off of. This month’s theme was resilience.

“Participants must stay on theme, must tell mostly true life stories and must stay under 10 minutes,” Brando said.

After selecting three judges from the crowd, Brando drew the first name to the sounds of the audience beating an impromptu drum roll on tables and chairs. Delana K. Reed, assistant professor of ETSU’s storytelling program, was first to go up.

“I know it may not look like it now, but I used to be a bodybuilder,” Reed said.

What followed was a humorous and moving account of her struggle to compete in the world of bodybuilding on an all natural diet. As the night went on, six other contestants went on to tell their own stories of resilience, ranging from the tales of a new mother suffering from postpartum depression to a humorous account of a game of pool gone wrong to touching story of an old, handmade chair.

The audience displayed their approval with laughing, clapping and nods of sympathy for every contestant, but by the end of the night, only one contestant could be named the winner.

The judges’ votes were tallied up, and the cash prize ultimately fell to Lee for his story about a pool game that had the entire audience cackling with laughter.

As the competition portion of the evening ended, Brando invited everyone in the deli to participate in an open mic portion of the evening which ended in an encore performance by Lee.

Next month, the theme of the Story Slam will be “Fair Weather,” so if you are interested in participating, prepare your stories now and keep updated on future event details via the ETSU Tale Tellers Facebook page.