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About Us


Podcast interview about the history of the Guild  with then current president Ken Iverson and past president Barb Fankhauser


These are the times from which myths are born.

Theses are the days of plague upon the land and ailing kings.

Of technical magicians who pull stories out of the air and send them winging into our homes to give joy and solace, laughter and relief.

These are the days stories are needed most.

These are the times storytellers have been preparing for, for a thousand years...


-Barb Fankhauser

May 2021

Image by Fredrik Solli Wandem

In 1985 Multnomah County librarian Sarah Stein posted a note on a library bulletin board inviting anyone interested in storytelling to meet at her house. Eight people responded, including Ken Iverson, Roger Coles, Maureen Pedone, Mary Wiley, Meagan O’Flaherty, Alys Carrasco and Susan Fowles. These were the founders of the Portland Storytellers’ Guild. Ken Iverson had just been asked to tell monthly stories at Ezekiel’s Wheel restaurant in northwest Portland. He invited the other tellers to share the stage.


Word of mouth spread, audiences grew, and so did membership. People came wanting not just to hear stories –but to tell, as well. In honoring the centuries-old tradition of Guilds, PSG looked beyond performances to ways where master tellers could share their craft with apprentice tellers. And out of that, the monthly potluck/story swaps were born. Members met in one another’s homes each month to break bread, share stories, and study the craft.


When Ezekiel’s Wheel closed, PSG moved through a series of venues, from coffee shops to bookstores, to the community room at McMenamin’s Kennedy School. Within a few years, we outgrew that venue and realized it was time to rent theater space and begin to charge for performances. But in asking audiences to pay, we recognized the need to deliver professional level performances every month.


To address that challenge, PSG stepped more deeply into the function of a guild and created a “three-legged stool” of storytelling where master tellers would pass on the craft to apprentice tellers. The three legs include:

1. Story swap/potlucks: free, informal, fun monthly events where beginning tellers tell a story in front of an audience for the first time, and experienced tellers could work on new material. The Story Swaps also gave those interested, but not ready to tell, a chance to hear a wide variety of stories told in varying styles

2. Workshops: Topic-specific opportunities to learn various aspects of craft.

3. Professional level storytelling: When tellers are ready, they are invited to join Master and Journeyman level tellers in our monthly paid professional venue. As of 2024, PSG has grown from the eight original tellers to over fifty members, many telling at a professional level.

Hipbone Studios was the first of three venues PSG rented. From there, we moved to Clinton Street Theater in 2017 where performances were held monthly from September through May until February 2020 when, in a remarkable pivot, in response to the quarantines caused by the Covid virus, PSG quickly moved performances and swaps to Zoom.


With the plague years behind us, PSG is live once again. Performances are offered on the second Saturday of the month from September through June at The Artichoke; story swaps continue year-round on the second Friday of each month at St Phillip Neri Church.

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