Our Secret Territory:

The Essence of Storytelling

Sentient Publications 2011; 160 pp., $14.95 (paper) BUY NOW

“No one has written more powerfully about this elemental and modern art than Laura Simms.” 

–Jay O’Callahan

From the January 2012 Shambhala Sun magazine:
   Storytelling, says Laura Simms, provides us with immediate relief from stress and self-preoccupation; urges us into wisdom; and ultimately connects us to our buddhanature. Part lyrical treatise on the power of storytelling, part memoir, Our Secret Territory is woven through with quotes, poems, and tales. Simms is the adoptive mother of ex-child soldier Ishmael Beah, author of the bestseller A Long Way Gone, and some of the most moving parts of her book deal with their relationship. When Beah first came to the U.S., Simms thought that he’d just stay with her for the summer, then in the fall she’d find a “real” family for him to live with. He was silent when she told him this plan. Finally, he said: “I thought you were going to be my mother.” Simms suddenly felt every cell in her body adjust to a binding decision. “You are right,” she said. “I am your mother.” And that was that, she writes, “as fast and decisive as an event in a fairytale, and as true as the best stories.”

From Timeless Spirit Magazine, book review by storyteller Marianne Hyland:
   “Heartfelt, multi-faceted and a treasure trove of insight and quotes is Our Secret Territory: The Essence of Storytelling by Laura Simms.”
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From, book review by storyteller Michael Williams:
  “She is a consummate performer, educator, author and humanitarian whose projects have promoted peacemaking, creativity and dialogue throughout the world.”
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From, book review by Courtney Cable:
   Unlike its cousins Literature and Song, Storytelling has not yet received much in the way of critical attention. Artist, educator, and humanitarian Laura Simms does her part to remedy this by weaving together her personal experiences as a storyteller with reflections on this art form and fairy tales themselves in Our Secret Territory: The Essence of Storytelling (Sentient Publications, 2011).
For example, Simms was given the task of telling a story to a group of troubled young girls. She had an inkling that jealousy was a root cause of some of their acting out and called upon an appropriate tale. Through it, the girls were able to get an objective view of their situation and their own actions. It also gave them the opportunity to see the possibility of a positive outcome. In the presence of story, community is created, making it an incredibly powerful tool for linking individuals together to enact social change.
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