popularising the literature of ancient Iraq through the art of oral storytelling



New Mesopotamian storytellers

The Enheduanna Society and the existing ZIPANG storytellers are keen to train new storytellers. New ZIPANG storytellers can be:

1. people with a Mesopotamian family background keen to discover and develop their cultural heritage, in English or their mother-tongue,

2. scholars with expertise in Mesopotamian literature keen to acquire storytelling skills that can bring the ancient texts back to life,

3. experienced storytellers keen to add Mesopotamian stories to their storytelling repertoires.

Below are profiles of new ZIPANG storytellers and the progress of their Mesopotamian storytelling projects.

Muhamad Tawfiq Ali

Kurdish by ethnicity, Iraqi by birth and a long-time British resident, Mohamad is a retired civil engineer and member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists (MCIL) fluent in Kurdish (Sorani), Arabic and English. He has translated poems into English, including some by the great Kurdish poet Goran, and edited a translation into Kurdish of Shakespeare's Macbeth. He chose The Poor Man of Nippur for his debut performance as a ZIPANG Mesopotamian storyteller because he sympathises with the story's hero, Gimil-Ninurta.

Laura Collins

Born in San Diego, California, USA, Laura met her English husband in Paris and has lived in London since 1972. She took up storytelling in the early 1980s. She chose Etana for her debut performance as a ZIPANG Mesopotamian storyteller because she was inspired by the image of the King of Kish flying to heaven on the back of an eagle. Her special interest is Babylonian lullabies and she would love to explore more Mesopotamian stories, particularly Lugalbanda and Gilgamesh.

Ann Gilmartin

An Irish storyteller living in London, Ann first heard Mesopotamian stories retold by ZIPANG at the Kufa Gallery in Bayswater and the October Gallery in Holborn. Her storytelling repertoire consisted mainly of Irish and British myths and stories but also included a humorous Iraqi folk-tale or two. At the ZIPANG workshops in 2008 she added to her repertoire the Mesopotamian stories known as Inana's Descent to the Underworld and The Killing of the Bull of Heaven. 'These are both very powerful stories,' says Ann. 'They are full of beautiful imagery, strong on emotion and easily related to our lives today.'


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