Featuring: Michael Parent
Quick-Witted Storyteller, Mesmerizing Musician, Juggler of Life
Knowing a little French is helpful when enjoying Michael Parent’s performances. Yes, he would translate and give hints. He told people that his grandparents only spoke French so that the way to show respect was to speak to them only in French. I find myself refreshing on my 5+ years of French in middle school and high school as a small way to honor Michael and his heritage.
He grew up in Lewiston, Maine. The French-Canadian upbringing infused all that he did with performance. And for this, it could be no surprise that he was heavily involved in hockey. He did wish to “invent a career.” Back in 1977, there were not a lot of professional storytellers. He was inspired by Brother Blue and realized that all of his stories and songs and juggling could turn into something more.
Many people have shared that it took a little time to understand or know Michael. He had a way of saying things that jolted you. Yet, a few moments later, understanding came. Love grew. And the audiences? They couldn’t get enough of this wonderful man.
Then, one day, Michael got Parkinson’s disease. Storytellers and community members scrambled to raise funds to provide a way to bring comfort as a way to say thank you to him.
Despite all his accomplishments, which are many and include the ORACLE – Circle of Excellence through the National Storytelling Network, he did ask for these lines to be shared (and were specifically shared in his obituary): He did the best he could. He loved people and enjoyed being alive.
The big question. What do those requested lines mean to you? Have you pondered it?
Although he passed away on May 5, 2023, his memorial will actually not happen until September 2023. We have time to ponder those words and see how, if at all, these words connect to us.
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You can see more details on Michael Parent with the Story Artists Memorial.
The videos below involving Michael Parent are a mix of performance and interview. There are really parts 1 and 2. The year it first premiered is unknown though it has been a while back.
Do you know a Story Artist who has passed on and want others to remember them? Memories? Pictures? You can submit names and memories of Story Artists who have passed on through our online form.
I appreciate Michael Parent for the way he shared his French-Canadian upbringings as if we were in on a great secret that was never meant to be a secret. His tapping and music could already be enough to entrance. Then, he added his voice. I look forward to seeing him perform again when reunited on the other side.
Michael still has a story. You have a story. We all have stories.