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Just who is this Brandon Spars?

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"Well, first off, he’s at least eight feet tall. You can’t tell by looking at him if he’s entertaining.  Some people look like they have interesting stories to tell. Some look like they may work in finance. Brandon sorta leans toward the finance side. Or a high-school teacher, which makes sense, because he is a high school teacher. But that just adds to his mystique."

—Bil Lepp

A nationally renowned storyteller—five time champion of the West Virginia Liars’ Contest, author, and recording artist

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About Brandon

Brandon has been a college and high school instructor for twenty-five years, primarily at UC Berkeley and Sonoma Academy. He has also taught at the College of the Marshall Islands, The Padang Teaching Institute in Sumatra, The University of Mahasaraswati in Bali, Indonesia. He received his doctorate in an interdisciplinary program at UC Berkeley in 2002.

As a teacher of both high school humanities and college writing, Brandon has always brought storytelling into his lessons, whether focusing on ancient history or English language acquisition. He has contributed to countless workshops and conferences on the intersection between storytelling, ancient history, and pedagogy. Brandon is a regular Bay Area storyteller as well as a TEDx speaker and a five-time champion of the Moth StorySLAM (including two GrandSLAMS).

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  • Keep Ukrainian Scholars & Journalists Safe
    Fri, Jul 01
    Online Fundraising
    Jul 01, 2022, 12:00 AM – Jun 30, 2023, 12:00 AM
    Online Fundraising
    I have worked closely with individuals at a Ukrainian organization dedicated to promoting the gift of storytelling and scholarship about folklore. The people in this organization are dynamic, insightful, and dedicated, and now... unfortunately... they are fearing for their lives.
  • San Francisco Free Folk Festival
    Sat, Jul 08
    The Music Concourse - Rideout Fountain
    Jul 08, 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM
    The Music Concourse - Rideout Fountain, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA
    Here and There; Then and Now Joint Storytelling Concert and Workshop by Sacramento Storytelling Association Personal Stories by Brandon Spars Traditional Tales by Dan Sherry
  • Bay Area Storytelling Festival
    Sat, Apr 29
    Orinda Community Center
    Apr 29, 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM
    Orinda Community Center, 28 Orinda Way, Orinda, CA 94563, USA
    Brandon will be hosting Youth Invitational
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Rangda: The Legendary Goddess of Bali

August 10, 2020

Rangda: The Legendary Goddess of Bali examines the layered origins of this premier Southeast Asian goddess. As prominent as Pele of the Polynesian Islands, Rangda is perhaps the most familiar, most feared, and most revered deity, regularly represented by her unique and horrifying mask in the temples of Bali while also adorning the tourist pamphlets and t-shirts of Kuta Beach. Even though prominent, she has been both misunderstood and misrepresented. This book delves into her textual origins in the lontar tradition (palm leaf manuscripts) and combines that with a close look at her crucial role in Balinese cleansing rituals before arriving at how modern Indonesian writers are trying to free this goddess from her imprisonment by state and patriarchal powers. In an illustrated section, the author and illustrator combine their talents to portray Rangda’s power to captivate and enchant today and through the ages.

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Setting a Plot: The Impact of Geography on Culture, Myth, and Storytelling

August 24, 2019

"Capacious in its coverage and compellingly written, Brandon Spars reflects on how the stories we tell—not only their settings but their plots, characters, and themes—are conditioned by the environments we inhabit. With refreshing candor, Spars describes experiences teaching various oral traditions that have emerged from valleys, islands, deserts, and mountains. This book is smart and fun to read."

Bryan Wagner, Dept. of English, University of California, Berkeley.

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Live to Tell Again: Tales of Self-Discovery and Healing

June 18, 2019

*Winner of the Storytelling World 2019 Honors for Special Storytelling Resources category

Live to Tell Again is the second book in this series that explores the art and craft of storytelling. This volume explores storytelling as a means to discover meaning and purpose in one's life, using moments in which difficult decisions are made as material for generating powerful personal stories. One story even highlights the potential for storytelling to aid in the process of healing after a tragic event. The October fires of 2017 in Santa Rosa devastated a community. Live to Tell Again captures some of the stories told at a live event the author hosted called "Thicker Than Smoke," weaving them together in a way that reveals not only the personal loss t suffered by the storytellers but also the hope, dignity, and humor that are helping to heal and renew the community. Live to Tell Again provides excellent opportunities to study the structure and development of personal narrative, as well as a unique and lively manner of learning spoken English.

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Live to Tell: Six Award-Winning Tales

February 22, 2017

*Winner of the Storytelling World 2019 Honors for Special Storytelling Resources category

Live to Tell explores the art and craft of storytelling in such a way that readers can appreciate the dynamic between the written page and the live stage. The scripts for six award-winning tales are anthologized in this collection, with links to live performances from storytelling competitions, including The Moth StorySLAM. Additionally, Live to Tell brings storytelling into the ESL, high school, and college classroom, providing excellent opportunities to learn spoken English and reflect on the elements that make up a lively tale told in an animated way. This collection will inspire students and storytellers alike to bring their own personal narratives to life--and possibly even to the stage.

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