Creative Texts | Creative Traditions

Journal of Folklore and Education

2021: Volume 8
Sandy Hébert LaBry, Guest Editor

About This Volume

Creative Texts | Creative Traditions features case studies, lesson plans, and research that use folklore’s values of context, candor, use, imagination, and love to help students to craft text with authentic purpose and consequences. The strategies offer readers opportunities to consider how the merely personal can contain the universal, how to make genuine connections, how to work toward equity, or how to strengthen social bonds.


Introduction: Creative Texts | Creative Traditions

In this journal issue, authors show us how diverse genres of creative text can sprout from folklore. They share ways to use the folklorist’s tools of close observation, interviewing, and deep listening to trigger connections, to explore, and to craft varied texts.

Make the Anvil Theirs: When Poetry Meets Folklore

Taught in the light of folklore’s values—context, use, candor, imagination, and love, writing poems that notice, praise, and witness, young people can forge language as an act of consequence and resistance.

From Fried Chicken to Fascination with Home: How Learning about Culturally Rooted Poetry Forms Can Transform Children’s Understanding of Home

In learning about different global traditions of oral poetry, young students build language to form their questions about home.

Hearing Between the Words: Toward the Slow Study of Traditional Riddles

This model offers a shared experience for teachers and students to work collaboratively to “hear between the words”—and between the worlds—through cultural context and interpretation of the cultural capsule that a traditional riddle provides.

Yo vengo de…

A Spanish teacher and a teaching artist reflect on their residency and provide activities for students to write and make art about where they come from.

Written in Beads: Storytelling as Transmission of Haudenosaunee Culture

A National Heritage Fellow shares her stunning raised beadwork and describes her responsibility to understand deeply the teaching and traditions that she is given so the voice of the beadwork is strong and clear.

Writing Memoirs Prompted by Family Photos: A Graphic Organizer for Writing with Family Photos

Inspired by two writers’ memoirs, this graphic organizer suggests ways to read photos as texts and provides prompts for writing about family photos.


This story talks about what it was like driving back “down South” for a Black family without aid of anything but prayer, vigilance, natural wits, and foreknowledge of southern ways.

Four Excerpts from Canícula: Snapshots of a Girlhood en la Frontera

Excerpts included here are Rocking Horse, Tino, China Poblana One, and Blue Stroller.

“Hey, Folklorists!” FisherPoets and Public Folklorists: Practicing Partnership

This article is part of the FisherPoets section.
The annual FisherPoets Gathering celebrates occupational folklife through creativity and camaraderie and provides context for two dynamic fisherpoets’ writing.

FisherPoetry: An Occupational Tradition

This article is part of the FisherPoets section.
FisherPoet Jon Broderick shares some perspective and context on his two poems that follow, "How to Tell a Good One" and "How to Write an Occupational Folklife Poem."

En Route to Togiak

This article is part of the FisherPoets section.
FisherPoet Moe Bowstern writes about herring fishing and a long trip from Kodiak Island to Togiak Bay, across the Shelikof Strait, through Unimak Pass and across the eastern edge of the Bering Sea.

Corridos: (Mostly) True Stories in Verse with Music

This article includes Classroom Connections.
An important part of the Mexican and Mexican American oral tradition, corridos document the experiences of people whose voice is too often unheard and offer rich ways of interpreting, illustrating, and writing these traditional songs.

Stumbling into Folklore: Using Family Stories in Public Speaking

The incorporation of folklore deeply enriched the introductory speech unit of a Public Speaking course, improving the quality of student work, increasing engagement with course content, and enhancing students’ cultural competence. This article describes the user-friendly, adaptable assignment, shares struggles and successes, and offers takeaways for educators.

Black Hair as Metaphor Explored through Duoethnography and Arts-Based Research

This article includes Classroom Connections.
Through duoethnographic, critical arts-based research, which began as a presentation for the 2021 National Art Education Association Convention, the authors examine hair as text and sites of identity/respectability politics, positionality, rites of passage, liminality, and selfhood. Through the lens of African American women professors of art education, they unpack complexities of Black women’s hair stories as positional metaphors and share a Culturally Responsive Pedagogy lesson.

A Material Culture Approach to Academic Writing: Protests, Pandemic, and Community-Engaged Pedagogy

This article includes Classroom Connections.
A folklore-studies approach to the college writing classroom enabled university students to appreciate and create cultural texts through a “material culture” course theme conveying the importance of folklore to explore locally engaged, community-driven topics. This approach was especially useful as students made sense of the 2020 pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests in Richmond, Virginia.

Inspired by Calaveras: Involving Middle-School Students in Writing about el Día de los Muertos during the Covid-19 Pandemic

This article includes Classroom Connections.
The collaboration of a museum educator and a teaching artist encouraged discovery and experimentation with writing and performing calaveras in museum educational programs, promoting greater reflection about el Día de los Muertos.

Walls Are Not Black and White: Student Exploration of Border Walls through Creative Writing

This article includes Classroom Connections.
Employing the virtual version of the exhibition A History of Walls: The Borders We Build, the authors developed a creative writing and visual literacy workshop series for high school students based on people’s complex relationships with border walls. This project allowed Arizona State Museum to make meaningful community connections during Covid-19 shutdowns.

Pieces of Now: Arts Born of Protest

Creative arts born of protest, in the context of a museum exhibition, can instruct and inspire by expanding notions of what art is and what it can do. The multimedia creations in a Greensboro History Museum’s exhibition are expressive individual artworks and social acts. They show how a single voice and vision can connect to larger communities and historical moments to make a difference and lend agency, especially when museum and school staff listen to those voices.

The Urban Art Mapping Project: A Discussion of Street Art Preservation and Antiracism

As a multidisciplinary, multigenerational, and multiracial research team, the Urban Art Mapping Project collaborates with and in support of community voices through vernacular art in the streets. While street art may be ephemeral and fleeting, it can reveal immediate responses to events and make externally visible what people think, believe, or feel, individually and collectively. In the context of crisis, street art can reach a global audience, transform and activate urban space, and foster a sustained critical dialogue.

Journal of Folklore and Education 2021 Reviews

Reviews of: Intercultural Education, Folklore, and the Pedagogical Thought of Rachel Davis DuBois, by Jan Rosenberg | Teaching Gloria E. Anzaldúa: Pedagogy and Practice for Our Classrooms and Communities. Margaret Cantú-Sánchez, Candace de León-Zepeda, and Norma E. Cantú, eds. | Memory, Art and Aging: A Resource and Activity Guide. Jon Kay, Project Director and Principal Investigator | Review of Digital Resources: Belouga, Oddizzi, and Touchable Earth

Key Themes in This Issue

Narrative, Identity, Place, Community, History, Nature and Environment

The Journal of Folklore and Education (ISSN 2573-2072) is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal published annually by Local Learning: The National Network for Folk Arts in Education. JFE publishes work that uses ethnographic approaches to tap the knowledge and life skills of students, their families, community members, and educators in K-12, college, museum, and community education.