Our Secret Territory
by Laura Simms

Sentient Publications, 2011. ISBN 978-1-591-81172-5.
Reviewed by Doris Anne Roop-Benner
Posted on 03/12/2012

Nonfiction: Creative Life

A story isn't simply a record of an event, it's a vital and dynamic world that, when we enter, makes us whole. Laura Simms, author of Our Secret Territory, has known since she was a child that she is a storyteller, a messenger from a world of beauty and meaning. Simms lights the fire and we gather round, and the stories she tells in Our Secret Territory penetrate our hearts. Story is the medicine, and Laura Simms is a medicine woman. The reader is transformed and sometimes "restored" though the telling.

The chapters in Our Secret Territory are storied conversations between storyteller and listener. They're interspersed with short tales, quotes, and poems. Throughout the book, a single fairytale unfolds, "Hen and Rooster," winding like a symbolic journey to a place of inner peace and creativity. The tale is the story of going home.

Storytelling is a ritual that benefits the teller and the listener, and Simms knows that the story she tells is not necessarily the one that the audience hears or imagines. The storyteller is like a lamplighter: one who ignites our imaginations and awakens dormant feelings within us. I was moved by her story about the Romanian women. I wanted to be there to share in the joy that the Gypsy women experienced.

Not only does Our Secret Territory teach the reader about storytelling and different cultures, it provides more—an appreciation of how healing story can be. The key is in the listening.

Laura Simms is an award-winning storyteller, recording artist, teacher, writer, and humanitarian based in New York City. The New York Times has called her "a major force in the revival of storytelling in America." She has been telling stories for forty years. Simms also works with international organizations to train teachers and humanitarian workers. Learn more about her on her website.

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