Welcome to Fabula Rosa. I am Dr Joanna Gilar, an academic, writer and storyteller based in Sussex. I believe our world is changing and stories can help us find our way in the unnavigated territory of a transforming planet. On this site I offer and recommend fairy tale courses, workshops, writings and performances which aim to explore where, with, and with-whom we are.
I am also a ritual facilitator and trained bodyworker, because I believe that stories exist in our chalk, grass, skin and bones, and if we speak with stories through these things they will speak back to us.
I have a PhD on fairy tales and ecological storytelling from the University of Chichester, as well as an MA in Creative Writing from UEA, and an MA in English Literature from the University of St Andrews. I am the co-editor of The World Treasury of Fairy Tales and Folklore, published by Wellfleet Press in 2016, and have published articles in Gramarye and Marvels and Tales. I have also organized two symposia, the first on the relationship between becoming-animal and ecological activism at the University of Brighton, and the second entitled “Wonderlands: Reading / Writing / Telling Fairy Tales and Fantasy” at the University of Chichester. My current research focuses on ritual enactments and Sussex stories.
I have ten years of experience teaching BA and MA university students English Literature, Creative Writing and Drama at Charles University and Liberec University in the Czech Republic. I have worked as a visiting lecturer in Storytelling and Environmental Education at the University of Chichester. I have also given public lectures on fairy tales, magic and ecology at a variety of venues from the University of Edinburgh to the fields of Sussex.
I have been running eco-storytelling workshops for adults and young people since 2008. In 2010 I founded Write Wild, a wilderness storytelling space in Prague. I was involved in the founding of ONCA, Brighton’s Centre for Arts and Ecology, and from 2012 – 2014 worked there as writer-in-residence and educational coordinator. In this post I organized competitions, workshops, festivals and performances which aimed to offer an explorative space of art and ecology to the local community. From 2013-14, as a part of my PhD work, I also developed the Becoming-Animal Project, a Key Stage 2 initiative which used fairy tales as a forum for environmental exploration at a series of schools around Sussex.
As a storyteller and performance poet I focus on the intersection between word and world. I believe orally told stories have the capacity to re-weave relationships between teller, hearer and space in which they are told. As David Abram has put it, “we cannot restore the land without restorying the land”.
I have performed at schools, bookshops, university campuses, woods, fields and mountains across Europe. I have run a week of storytelling at an Italian castle, been a regular storyteller at an annual festival in the mountains of Moravia and celebrated the mapping of Sussex Folklore with stories of dragons and witches in the South Downs. Organizations that I have worked with include the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy, ONCA Centre for Arts and Ecology, Brighton Storytellers, London Dreamtime, the Italian Body&Society Lab, the Dark Mountain Project, Anderida Gorsedd, the Scottish Pagan Federation and Stour Valley Arts. My poems and performances have been described as “spell-binding”, “breath-taking”, “astonishing” and “a gift”. You can have a look at some of my performances on my blog here.