In the mid-seventies, Robert Bly, fueled by the work of Marie-Louise Von Franz and others, raised his interest in story to almost the same degree as his passion for poetry. The conference made the acute realization that we didn’t have the stories, the stories had us.
Having the good fortune to encounter Gioia Timpanelli, Connie Martin, and then Michael Meade, Martin Prechtel and others, Bly gave weight and centrality to stories at the conference, especially the fairy tale tradition. These were not recitals from books, these were moments ablaze! Masks, ritual, spontaneity, community involvement: the conference became a place for living myth, not expired recital. In recent years the conference has re-established its reputation as a place for truly experiential encounters with myth — not just as performance, but as a way of thought, a way of beholding.
It is in this tradition that the Conference opens itself to a theme and story each year.