Writing Echoes

Delijah's Writing Blog

Guadalajara Storytelling Marathon


Since 1992, this small city lost in the middle of Spain flowers every year into the Storytelling Marathon. During the second or third weekend of June (Friday to Sunday), the local monuments become a stage for hundreds of storytellers and thousands of listeners (According to Pep Bruno, 2012 had a registered number of storytellers of 1400 people and 940 stories).

The unique personality of the Guadalajara Storytelling Marathon is that it is based on something as intangible as the word, the thousands and thousands of words knitted by the storytellers, day and night, a weekend when sleep and meals become secondary because these words nourish the soul.


The Storytelling Marathon is open from Friday 5pm to Sunday 3pm (forty-six hours of storytelling non-stop), with the main events being held in the local Renaissance Palace, and attracts storytellers from the whole country – literally. It is the time of the year when this city is the most alive. Schools organise tale-telling workshops, artists and stands take over the streets, and the bookshops take their merchandising to the Palace ground – especially aiming to tempt the youngest ones.

The Marathon can be followed Live, as the stories are told (mostly in Spanish, though when I was a kid my English group always came to tell a story in English) through the local radio station “Radio Arrebato” and it is overall a lovely event. The stories are unfiltered, as far as I know there is no censorship whatsoever, although registering is essential for the main event.

Here are a few pictures of the 2013 edition, which is being held as I type these lines – guess what I am listening to on the radio?

Today there was a stand where you could “trade” words. They had a book where you wrote your sentence, or your word, or whatever you wanted, and could pick a sentence in exchange. The sentence I received could be summarised as “Just keep breathing~”

As I mentioned, I attended a few times when I was younger. One of the stories we told was called “Death in Samarra”. Wikipedia renders the story as follows:

A merchant in Baghdad sends his servant to the marketplace for provisions. Shortly, the servant comes home white and trembling and tells him that in the marketplace he was jostled by a woman, whom he recognized as Death, and she made a threatening gesture. Borrowing the merchant’s horse, he flees at top speed to Samarra, a distance of about 75 miles (125 km), where he believes Death will not find him. The merchant then goes to the marketplace and finds Death, and asks why she made the threatening gesture. She replies, “That was not a threatening gesture, it was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Baghdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.”

In our version, the servant, Adhmed, talks to a stranger in the market: “Who are you? What do you want?!” “I. am. Death,” the stranger replied coldly and turned away. Later the Sultan goes to find Death in the marketplace. “Why did you frighten my servant?!” The Sultan demanded. “Who is your Servant,” the stranger replied. “His name is Adhmed.” “I did not want to frighten him. I was just surprised to see him here, in Baghdad.” “Why were you surprised?” The Sultan asked again. “I was surprised because I have an appointment with him. Tonight. In Samarra.”

In case you are wondering why I only recall the interactions with Death… That’s because it was my role. Who is surprised?

(You can listen to the script we used through this link)


10 responses to “Guadalajara Storytelling Marathon

  1. Alexis June 16, 2013 at 00:15

    Sounds very cool indeed! Deli would play Death very well *nods*

  2. Denise June 16, 2013 at 02:33

    So what will you do with your sentence and what did you give to someone unknown? Sounds like an awesome event and it is great to see that even in the time of television people still enjoy this type of event!