The first time I saw playwright and storyteller Kevin Kling speak was at Gustavus Adolphus College was right around Valentine's Day a few years ago. There was one story that still stands out in my mind.
The story starts with a girl Kling had a crush on in Miss Jensen's fifth-grade class and ends with a couple he had read about who were killed by a train after the wife's shoe had gotten stuck in the tracks. The husband had stayed with her and held her as the train approached and struck them.
The phrase that ran through the story, connecting Kling's experience with puppy love and the devotion of the couple, was “one more second, just one more second.” He was describing the longing of wanting nothing more than spending just one more second with the one you love, no matter the cost.
In the span of five minutes and the whispered repetition of one powerful phrase, many of us in the audience were wiping tears from our cheeks, with knots the size of golf balls in our throats. I remember thinking, “That is one amazing storyteller.”
I've seen Kling several times since then in the Twin Cities, the last time with Mason Jennings, and each time I've left inspired with dozens of little scenes playing through in my mind. So I was thrilled recently to be scrolling through area events calendars online and to learn that Kling will be a featured storyteller Monday night at the New Ulm Public Library.
Kris Wiley, assistant director, said the library is partnering with United Way for the annual Life Living Series. The series, which is bringing in authors and storytellers to New Ulm, is focusing on Minnesota stories. Kling, a Minnesota native who often writes of his home-state heritage, was a perfect choice.