Jo Radner tends to make stories about the people and history of northern New England. Short or long, her stories favor characters whose lives defeat simple explanations and situations in which gravity and humor are bedfellows. Her biggest stories include “Burnt into Memory,” created from many oral histories she gathered from survivors of the 1947 wildfire that destroyed the town of Brownfield, Maine, and “Braving the Middle Ground,” which weaves together Native American oral traditions and stories told by her own New England ancestors.
Jo performs in many different settings, from festivals to community events, schools to senior centers. Her CD, Yankee Ingenuity: Stories of Headstrong and Resourceful People, received a 2013 Storytelling World Award.
Folklorist, educator, storyteller, and oral historian, Jo presents workshops on topics including the art of oral history interviewing, creating complex stories, presenting community stories, finding and telling family stories, and various aspects of performance.
Jo holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University and is professor emerita at American University in Washington, DC. She is past president of the National Storytelling Network and of the American Folklore Society.