Sentient Publications 2011; 160 pp., $14.95 (paper) BUY NOW
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. The book is a collection of the author’s own articles about storytelling and that which happens between storyteller and listener.
Laura Simms has been telling stories for 40 years. She is highly acclaimed and has performed in New York, London and the Philippines among other places.
In Laura Simms’ world, storytelling is “more ritual than entertainment.” When told with integrity and responsibility, it is able to reach a deeper level of consciousness in a person. Storytelling is thus able to bring peace and direction to the listener, heal and facilitate understanding and insight. Each listener experiences the story being told personally. In many ways, the listener becomes the story; its characters, the landscape, the challenges and its resolution. Storytelling is a reciprocal engagement between storyteller and listener.
Read more: http://www.timelessspirit.com/JULY12/review5.shtml
From AllThingsHealing.com, book review by storyteller Michael Williams:
Author Laura Simms is no stranger to the storytelling world. For more than forty years, the New York-based storyteller has been travelling the world sharing her stories and wisdom. She is a consummate performer, educator, author and humanitarian whose projects have promoted peacemaking, creativity and dialogue throughout the world.
In her newest book, Our Secret Territory, Simms reflects on her development as a storyteller and invites us to journey into the “essence of storytelling” in order to understand better the “profound realm of living narrative” as well as the intricate connections between teller and listener. Comprised of “storied conversations” and “mythic explorations”, Simms takes us on a spiritual as well as literary journey.
Read more: http://www.allthingshealing.com/Storytelling/Book-Review-Laura-Simms-Our-Secret-Territory-the-Essence-of-Storytelling/10731
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.”
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).
The very definition of storytelling makes this a difficult task. By its nature, stories exist in the moment and are a result of a collaboration between the teller and the listener. You can write down a story, but it becomes something different when you do. To read a story is an entirely different experience than to hear it told.
This attribute is also what makes storytelling such a powerful tool in compassionate problem solving. As the story is created in the act of its unfolding, the listener is able to draw from the generalities to take what they need in order to deal with their own specific situation.
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.
As our culture moves ever more quickly to a state of constant and instantaneous communication, we seldom make time for or find the value in endeavors, such as oral storytelling, that meander. But this art form, present in every culture through all time, has survived the ages for a reason. It provides crucial moments of human connection, which brings us to a state of empathy.
Read more: http://blogcritics.org/books/article/book-review-our-secret-territory-the/