Sunday, April 12, 2015

My Current Project: Modern Chicken Skin Stories

In Hawaii, we have a long tradition of storytelling. Stories of all types have been passed down from generation to generation in various forms. The hula is one of the most well-known forms by far. Stories about history and culture are told to us from the time we are young children. However, another tradition is the telling of "Chicken Skin" stories.

For those of you who have never heard this term, chicken skin stories refers to the telling of spooky stories. What many people call goosebumps, we call chicken skin. These are the stories that make you afraid to be alone in the dark. These are stories that make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. Chicken skin stories make your heart race. In simpler terms, these are the stories that scare the heck out of you.

Here in Hawaii, we begin to hear these stories at a fairly young age. They are often told around campfires or on 4th grade Big Island trips. We all know our fair share of traditional stories. Nearly everyone who grew up in the islands knows a story or two about run-ins with obake (Japanese spirits), night marchers, the Goddess Pele, the Green Lady, Morgan's Corner, and various others. Personally, I can recite many stories I have heard since elementary school. I've been asked on a few occasions to tell some of these stories to school children around the state.

Yes; we all know these stories, and this is where my current project begins. I am in the process of collecting modern chicken skin stories. I am collecting stories that are more recent than the traditional stories. Many of the stories of my youth have an origin in the 50's, 60's, and especially the 70's. I am interested in hearing these newer stories and archiving them, so they can be passed down to future generations.

For years, I have known of many great storytellers in Hawaii that had been doing what I am currently doing. For whatever reason, there seems to be a gap right now. No one is writing these stories down, telling these stories, keeping these stories alive. Even sadder, many youth don't know these stories, and they don't show any interest anymore. It seems as though if it's not in movie form or on YouTube, young people don't have any interest in it. I hope to change that.

I've been asked to tell these stories recently, and I want to keep this tradition alive. I know the old stories, I've had some personal experiences, and now I am collecting the newer stories from folks who have had their own experiences. I hope to put these down in writing in the future, but for now, I am just happy to tell these spooky stories to a new generation. So, wish me luck. If you have a story to share, please message me or leave a comment. I would love to hear from you!

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