Review: Tea in the Slammer CD
There is a Chinese proverb that states, “Drinking a daily cup of tea will surely starve the apothecary.” Indeed, there is healing in a good cup of tea and Storyteller Geraldine Buckley knows how not only to make a good cup of tea, but how to brew good and “just right” stories. In her new collection “Tea in the Slammer,” (2016) we dine on hilarious antics, warm moments, and cozy relationships.
The collections begin with a gracious invite to relax, have some tea and listen as Geraldine soon takes on a wayward journey of unpredictable delight. We hear how Geraldine worked “at the largest men’s prison in Maryland” and although it was initially an uncomfortable position, it was a calling. We hear how this British born, America living female chaplain saw beyond the prison label and with a listening ear and of course good tea, created a welcoming place. The officers who stubbornly refused to recognize a female chaplain in the prison claiming it was not safe soon were sipping with the best of them. The men or some regard as inmates too befriend her when she shows that in a prison one could respect the delicate times in life, including the end of it.
I was invited to go to Marion Correctional and spend the day. This is the first place that a correctional facility hosted their own Ted talks. Within the first 20 minutes arriving, after being inspected and monitored, after we arrive, I knew this was a new place. The men, over 2000, graciously shared their lives with me and we sat for over two hours of speeches and art work orchestrated, designed, and performed by the men. I knew that the “prison pipeline” was perpetuated by the images we have of prison. This experience changed my life and my perception of the men who resided there. I did not have words for the impact that it made.
Listening to Geraldine brings this back to me. We need vocal advocates to displace how people who are serving time are perceived. I remember a man at Marion said to me, “I have not had a visitor for 23 years.” This hurt. Geraldine work allows us to visit the real people that can reside in these places that are made invisible to many. Her work allows some of their stories to be visible.
As she shares, “Good stories are a living gift.” She also regales us with a tale of her mischievous yet impressionable brother whose antics keep us wondering. However, what we don’t question is the dear kinship they share for each other. We hear about her call to the faith and how through an interaction with man’s best friend she learned never to take herself too seriously.
. We can see the illusive red dress and her friend Connie who was meant to wear it. We are graced with a poem that is most requested by the men at the prison and upon hearing it, we understand why.
I have had the good fortune to meet and sip tea with Geraldine, although it was a festival producer’s tea and I look forward to having her special blend, and hear her wild and compassionate tales. She is a joy on and off stage. If you have the opportunity to bring her to your event, take it up. If you are lucky, she will treat you to a warm beverage and memorable accounts of life in the slammer and other life journeys. Cheers to more good listening and refreshing tales.
We also have the pleasure of interviewing Geraldine on our next blog post. Stay tuned.