I first met Tim Bowley in 2004 at the PalavrasAndarilhas (Wandering Words) in Beja. He appeared to me a tall tree with a boyish twinkle in his eye. Beside him sat CasildaRegueiro, to “translatell” his stories into Spanish. Their pas de deux was wonderful to watch but what impressed me most was his voice and how it held us in a firm embrace and took us on journeys to far corners of the world but to places that were so close to our hearts. It was a mesmerising evening!
Tim started coming to Portugal in the end of the nineties to tell and give training (1998 in Braga and then 1999 in Lisbon) and became one of the first international storytellers to gain attention from the Portuguese audience. Since then he has told stories to thousands of smiling listeners and shared his experience and knowledge with hundreds of teachers, educators, librarians and storytellers. But how come only then did I cross paths with this great storyteller? I was hooked from that moment on and drove miles to see him and Casildaand later also with Charo Pita whenever they told stories in Portugal. Amongotherplaces, Timtold in Braga, Beja, Lisbon, Oeiras, Pombal, Vila Nova de Paiva, Montemor, Vilamoura, Óbidos, Tavira, Coimbra,..
I was lucky enough to start chasing tale tellers before the crisis hit when libraries and municipalities in Portugal could still hire the best to come to our little garden by the sea. Tim Bowley is a name that brings smiles to many manyfaces here in Portugal. He has given several workshops, one of which was an intensive course in Oeiraswhich I was fortunate enough to be a part of, and many wonderful story filled evenings all over the country. Some of his stories and collections of tales have been published in Portuguese and are in the hearts and on the tips of the tongues of many storytellers here.Rare is the storytelling session, especially with children, when I don’t wip out his book, “Jamie and the acorns”, to play with the audience with the repetitions and remind us of the cycles of life and how important it is to persist in protecting them.
Tim has a way of telling stories which is very difficult to grasp but so easy to enjoy: he is tender yet powerful, playful yet relevant, and he tells it as it is, no frills, for those are for the listener’s imagination. And oh, how he takes us there: into our imagination and to forgotten corners of our hearts.
Going back to that event in Beja in 2004, the next day Tim was challenged to give a talk about his art and basically had a conversation with two hundred story lovers. At a certain point he asked if anyone would like to try “translatelling” with him. I don’t know what hands pushed me forward, but there I was, on stage, with my new hero! And what a friendly and generous hero he was!Over the yearsthere were several occasions when I got to tell on stage with Tim and every time I was humbled and enchanted by his warmth and his light. And the impression I get is that Tim is somehow sitting on my shoulder every time I tell stories, so often his stories.