by KELLY GUSICH
photos by Zeena Gregg Photography

Marilyn McPhie
Turns a Love of Words
(and of People)
Into a Profession

Imagine coming from a family of consummate word-lovers (otherwise known as logophiles). One grandmother majored in elocution, reciting poems and other literary pieces, and the other was a poet who was often called upon to recite her creations for others. Suppose your mother taught English and drama, and your house was filled with books and stories. You might be on your high school speech team, and go on to major in English in college. What wondrous possibilities might be ahead for a word lover such as you? If your name is Marilyn McPhie, you’d take all of those fabulous inspirations and experiences and mesh them together to become a professional storyteller!

Since 1985, Marilyn has told stories, in all kinds of places. It started when her two oldest children were three and four, and she had to choose how to participate in their parent participation preschool. On a list that included cleaning bathrooms and sanding or painting playground equipment, Marilyn the logophile logically chose ‘telling stories every week’ as her duty. The rest, as they say, is history. In addition to storytelling at schools and libraries, she also does performances and workshops for non-profits, corporations, universities, retreats, bookstores, in-services, wherever stories are welcome. “I run a monthly ‘story-swap’,” she affirmed, “which is open to anyone who wants to tell or listen to stories.” Three years ago, Marilyn and a group of local storytellers formed a 501c3 nonprofit organization that puts on an annual festival attracting almost a thousand story-listeners.

Faces-Marylin2Marilyn has received awards from the Greater San Diego Reading Association and has been a featured storyteller in many places, including the National Storytelling Festival in Greensboro, TN. She’s received grants for her work and tells stories throughout the county. “I’m famous at the grocery store,” she shared. “The littlest children seem amazed that I actually exist somewhere other than the library.”

The legend among the McPhies is that they are descended from selkies, the seal people who live in the ocean, but can shed their skins and live on land. Marilyn and husband of thirty-nine years, Craig, moved to Rancho Peñasquitos in 1978. They have five children, all of whom are married and have given the McPhies nineteen grandchildren (so far). These details about Marilyn and her family make for their own fascinating story… one that is worth telling!