Photo Credit: Allan Leschinsky
THIS IS STORYTELLER SATORI SHAKOOR
Part of my dream for the lives of storytellers and their stories is to be a conduit for sharing. I believe in the deepest of my soul that we each have unique, important, inspiring stories to tell that are based on our personal lived experiences. Some of us are compelled to share these stories with little-to-no apprehensions. Some of us need to be egged on a bit. Still some of us hold our stories in our bodies and minds…and may not ever really share them out loud. But, if we pay attention, we can still see and feel these stories.
As Mouth Piece creator, one of the intentions I’ve set for myself is to connect the storytellers I know, the storytellers who inspire me, and the storytellers I hope will share special stories with me (us) through the events – is for us to connect. One way I can do this is via this blog through in-depth question and answer posts. I have questions to ask that I believe are honest, compelling and maybe a little challenging to answer. I want to ask these questions because I believe they need to be asked, and because I know the answers will be intriguing, vulnerable and motivational.
I believe in the healing power of storytelling. I believe in the inspiring power of asking questions and receiving answers that stick to my skin like the heat on a hot summer day.
To begin this series of conversations, I would like to introduce Storyteller Satori Shakoor. I first heard Satori’s deep-souled voice on WDET’s The Beginning of the End – a podcast about life-changing endings that is hosted by Alex Trajano. I’d seen Satori’s name around The Moth events as she is the host of the Ann Arbor Moth events (that happen at Circus in Ann Arbor, MI, the third Tuesday of every month). She and I often ‘like’ the same posts on Facebook, and when I did a little research I found out that she hosts her own storytelling series called The Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers (isn’t that a wonderful name?!).
I’ve yet to meet Satori in the flesh (it will happen!), and when I do, I’m going to embrace her! For now, I’m falling in love with her passion and wisdom through her words and her voice. Through her extraordinary stories.
Please, join us in conversation…
VS: What is the first story you remember being told that stuck to your soul?
SS: My stepmother and I were sitting on the porch, rocking back and forth on the glider as a storm was brewing. I was terrified of thunder and lightning and when the first clap of thunder sounded my body was cringing against hers. She started to tell me a story about how good God was and how He created the sun, the moon, the stars and all the little creeping things. You’re not afraid of those things are you? She asked me. I tell her no. Well, the same God created the thunder and lightning. God would never hurt you. Just as she said that I big clap a thunder sounded I could see the bolt of lightning and it struck the roof of the house directly across the street from us and set the roof on fire. The Fire Department came and it took awhile to put it out. It smelled like smoke for a long time after that. Sadie’s story didn’t calm my fears at the time. However, several years ago, I watched a storm one night, like it was an IMAX movie through the huge industrial window in the loft I lived in at the time.
VS: What motivates you to be on a stage and lead and/or tell stories?
SS: Love. Need. Connection. Spirit.
VS: What do you believe is the connection between the body and the mind when sharing a story?
SS: When the body and mind are connected being present and presence happens. When being present happens a space opens to all the magic available when being in the moment. The body and mind when connected serve as a conduit for inspiration, creativity, and profound communication when conveying a story.
VS: Who is a storyteller that inspires you? Why?
SS: Richard Pryor. His stories cleansed me of judgment. They made me take the ride. His stories seduced me into accepting and loving the flaws of his humanity, which gave me access to accepting and loving my own, flawed humanity.
VS: Is there a story you’ve never told? (You don’t have to tell it here!)
SS: There are stories I’ve only told one person or only a few people.
VS: Do you think that some stories are only meant to be held on the inside and not shared?
SS: I believe stories are human and therefore meant to be shared and reflected back. I would describe stories held on the inside and not shared, secrets. By definition that is why they are secrets. There are stories that I waited years to share with another or others. I withheld them because I believed I would be judged if I expressed them to a general audience. In the end, as an artist, I usually tell the stories I’m most afraid to tell because I believe that something is available and possible in the sharing. Something breakthrough.
VS: Do you think that storytelling can change people?
SS: Yes. Storytelling and being a storyteller has changed me, the direction of my life, it has given me a whole new direction and future, it has given me the opportunity to love what I do for the rest of my life.
VS: Change society?
SS: If I am freed up from my story in the telling of it, then it is possible in that freedom to choose a different story. In the freedom of choice to choose another story transformation happens. If an individual is transformed, then that individual’s thinking and actions will create possibilities that are more enlightened and will therefore impact her/his circle of influence/communities.
SS: I believe that storytelling at its highest level is transformational for both the storyteller and story listener. I believe storytelling to be the most effective delivery system of information and ideas. I believe storytelling to be the legacy of humanity.
VS: Do you get nervous/scared to tell stories?
SS: I get nervous and scared because I’m human and it’s in my DNA to be resistant to and afraid of judgment.
VS: How do you deal with any anxiety you might have?
SS: Nerves and scared and anxiety won’t allow for magic. They are magic blockers. Also, to deny nervous and scared is to have it engulf me and show up as defensiveness, disconnection from the audience, a lack of confidence, overly self-consciousness and more nerves. I deal with the anxiety by empowering and relating to them as the respect I pay to my audience. That their listening has to be earned; and, if I’m to earn it I have to show respect by being prepared, truthful, present and a conduit for magic to happen through the story.
VS: When did you tell your first Moth story?
SS: January 2011.
VS: What happened after that?
SS: I lost by 7/10th of a point. I promised myself I would be back after a play I was in closed and I would win. I wanted to win because the prize was telling a story on stage at the Gem Theatre and I had worked at the Gem in a show for over two years. It would be fun. I won when I came back three months later and came in second at the Gem theatre grandslam. However, to my shock and surprise The Moth invited me to host the Ann Arbor Moth storyslam and to tell a story for the Moth mainstage event at the Fillmore. After that I toured around the country with The Moth telling stories and I hosted the 2012 season premier in New York, in 2013, I told a story at The Moth Ball in New York with two of my favorite writers Adam Gopnick and Richard Price, hosted by Garrison Kiellor. Since then I’ve created The Secret Society Of Twisted Storytellers in Detroit whose mission is connect humanity, heal and transform community and to provide an uplifting, thought-provoking, soul-cleansing entertainment experience through the art and craft of storytelling.
VS: What motivates your connection to/between sisterhood, community and collective ‘history’ in your stories/stage plays/work?
SS: I’m motivated by the urge of artistic curiosity to know more about myself and others; to grow and develop as a human being conscious and connected to my spirituality and purpose. I’m motivated because I am a sister; a member of many communities and my personal experience is part of the collective history of common human experience. It cannot help but to show up in my work.
VS: If a person were on the fence about sharing a story, what would offer as guidance to him/her in terms of sharing?
SS: It depends on the person and where they are in their lives. Some folks aren’t ready to share their story because they haven’t processed their experience to that degree. Some folks are afraid of the unknown, some believe they don’t know how and don’t want to be judged or embarrassment. When I understand why then I can offer better guidance. In some cases, it’s better to let them remain on the fence.
Wow! Thank you so much Satori for giving your time and energy and honesty to us in the answers to these questions. I know, dear readers and storytellers, that you’re itching to find out more about Satori! Let me help you get connected!
Links to all things wonderfully Satori!:
The Beginning of the End Podcast – The End of Pride – Satori’s Story
Twisted Storytellers Podcast – Satori is hosting a storytelling podcast on WDET! This just started this month – CONGRATULATIONS SATORI!
The Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers Website – Satori’s storytelling series! The next event is September 16th!
The Moth – Satori hosts the Ann Arbor Moth events. The next event is Tuesday, August 16.
I hope this post and conversation has brightened your day…and stoked that storytelling fire in your heart.