Voices: The Journal of New York Folklore features articles, stories, interviews, reminiscences, essays, folk poetry and music, photographs and artwork from people in all parts of New York State. Voices is the Societys membership magazine. The magazine also publishes peer-reviewed, research-based articles, written in an accessible style, on topics related to traditional art and life, including ethnic culture. Join NYFS today to receive this new membership magazine!
Voices features articles, stories, interviews, reminiscences, essays, folk poetry and music, photographs, and artwork drawn from people in all parts of New York State, folklorists and non-folklorists alike. The magazine also publishes peer-reviewed, research-based articles, written in an accessible style, on topics related to traditional art and life, including ethnic culture. Informative columns on subjects such as legal issues, photography, sound and video recording, archiving, ethics, and the nature of traditional art and life appear on a regular basis.
|Look inside ⇓
VOICES, Vol. 43, Spring–Summer 2017
What always strikes me about
Voices is its clarity and openness,
both in design and content. It’s
inviting, lively, and readable and has
plenty of variety. It presents artists
and communities with respect
and sensitivity, yet one learns too
about what folklorists do and who
they are. Voices gives a picture of
New York State and its people that
cannot be found elsewhere.
—Anna Lomax Wood, Director,
Association for Cultural Equity
LISTEN to New York Folklore Society’s executive director, Ellen McHale interviewed by Steve Black for his radio show, “Periodical Radio,” about Voices.
⇐LOOK INSIDE back issues of Voices
FROM THE EDITOR
From the Spring–Summer
2017 issue of Voices:
The Smithsonian’s 1986
Festival of American
Folklife launched my
career. In my first paid
job as a folklorist, I was
hired as an Assistant Program
the program, “Rice in
Japanese Folk Culture,” curated by Alicia
Maria Gonzalez of the Office of Folklife
Now in its 50th year, the Folklife Festival
remains a premier international exhibition
of living cultural heritage, presented annually
for two weeks around the Fourth of
July on the National Mall in Washington,
DC. Attracting over a million visitors yearly,
the celebration is the largest annual cultural
event in the nation’s capital.
Some 30 years ago, I was part of the team
that created a temporary Japanese village on
the National Mall. It ran from the village rice
paddy, through a collection of craft workshops
and performance stages for music and
dance, cooking, and children’s activities, to
the Shinto shrine at the end of the lane—all
populated by guest artisans and performers
We were actually allowed to build a rice
paddy on the National Mall (under the
watchful eyes of the National Park Service).
Here, performances of traditional music
and dance with ritual rice planting welcomed
visitors, as did a 13-foot tall rice straw effigy,
erected to ward off sickness and evil spirits
at the village entrance.
In shops along the village lane, visitors
met Japanese artisans working on crafts:
rice-straw boots, candles, and raincoats; umbrellas
of split bamboo and rice paper held
together with rice glue; bamboo winnowers
and baskets; clay jars for storing rice and
wood barrels to hold rice wine; resist-dyeing
with rice paste; papier-mâché with rice
glue for dolls and masks depicting characters
in folk drama. Performers danced, sang,
and played traditional instruments. Others
cooked and shared children’s games. This
was cultural exchange up close and personal.
This life-altering job grew out of an internship
while I was a doctoral student at
George Washington University. I worked on
the photo text panels that complemented
the living, performative presentations of
the festival. It was a practical application for
my studies in folk culture and Japanese literature,
and my “seriousness and exactitude” were noticed.
a departing gift from a Japanese friend.
In this first job, I could share my love of Japanese culture
acquired in Tokyo (1983–84) while teaching conversational English
to corporate management. It was a means
to immerse myself in a culture so different
from my own. The ever present aroma of a
simple dashi broth. Water spilling over the
rim of a cedar hot tub, as cherry blossoms
petals began to fall.
In Japan, I was introduced to a reverence
for age, custom, and tradition. I saw the government
actively supporting the nation’s artistic
heritage with the honorable title, “Living
National Treasure,” the highest award
given to Japanese artists, charged with passing
on the traditions to future generations.
Over 30 years later, I remain grateful for
this early opportunity. A government-supported
program set me on a path that continues
to help my patrons appreciate the diverse
cultural heritage of upstate New York
and beyond. Let’s hope government programs
like the Smithsonian Folklife Festival,
partnered with non-profit organizations and
private corporations, continue to support
new generations of educators, ever striving
to break down the barriers separating people
all over the globe.
Voices Acquisitions Editor
Founding Director of the Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library
The taxpayers are hollering,
and the state’s contribution
to this wonderful little
magazine has been
drastically cut. Those of
us who read it all the way
through have to all chip in.
—Pete Seeger, musician and activist,
Beacon, New York
VISIT our online gallery bookstore to purchase back issues.
|Meet Todd DeGarmo, Voices Acquisitions Editor|
Todd DeGarmo is the acquisitions editor for Voices: The Journal of New York Folklore, leading an editorial team which includes Ellen McHale as executive editor, Patricia Mason as copy editor, and Laurie Longfield as Voices’ manager. Todd took over this editorship from Dr. Eileen Condon who served as acquisitions editor from 2007–2012.
Todd is the founding director of the Center for Folklife, History and Cultural Programs at the Crandall Public Library in Glens Falls, NY. Todd is a former board member and past president of the New York Folklore Society. He brings a wealth of knowledge and prior experience to the position of acquisitions editor, including a knowledge of Japanese culture, Adirondack studies, tourism, and architectural studies.
Send Your Story
Did you know that Voices publishes
creative writing, including creative
fiction (such as short stories), creative
nonfiction (such as memoirs
and life/work stories), and poetry?
We also publish artistic and ethnographic
photography and artwork,
in addition to research-based articles
on New York State folk arts and artists.
If you are one of New York’s
traditional artists or working in a traditional
boat building, traditional healing,
instrument making, firefighting, or
nursing, to name a few—please consider
sharing with our readers. For
more information, see our Submissions
Guidelines or contact
the Acquisitions Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check our submission guidelines for authors.
Send your letter to the editor here
writers. We write
every day: monographs
articles, field notes,
festival and event brochures,
grant applications, final
reports, press releases, proposals. In fact,
I would say that time spent writing is more
than fifty percent of any folklorist’s annual
cycle of work. The essentials of folklorethe ethnographic materialare fundamental
to a great story. As any fieldworker can
attest, entering into the personal experience
of another individual is expansive and illuminating.
The everyday becomes novel when
viewed from the viewpoint of the uninitiated.
The job of the folklorist is to translate
that experience to those who may not get
the opportunity to go through it themselves
and to help the reader to find meaning in the
—Ellen McHale, PhD, Executive Director, NYFS
|What is Folklife?|
The everyday and intimate creativity that all of
us share and pass on to the next generation:
The traditional songs we sing, listen and dance to
Fairy tales, stories, ghost tales and personal histories
Riddles, proverbs, figures of speech, jokes and special ways of speaking
Our childhood games and rhymes
The way we celebrate life
– from birthing our babies to honoring our dead
The entire range of our personal and collective beliefs
– religious, medical, magical, and social
Our handed-down recipes and everyday mealtime traditions
The way we decorate our world
– from patchwork patterns on our quilts to plastic flamingoes in our yards, to tattoos on our bodies
The crafts we create by hand
– crocheted afghans, wooden spoons, cane bottoms on chairs
Patterns and traditions of work
– from factory to office cubicle
The many creative ways we express ourselves as members of our family, our community, our geographical region, our ethnic group, our religious congregation, or our occupational group
Folklife is part of everyone’s life. It is as constant as a ballad, as changeable as fashion trends. It is as intimate as a lullaby, and as public as a parade.
In the end ... we are all folk.
—American Folklife Center
Library of Congress, Washington, DC