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Twisted Storytellers tackle love and war (Detroit News)

Group to share personal stories and experiences in intimate setting

Published February 14, 2013 by the Detroit News.

By Ursula Watson of The Detroit News.

Published: 02.14.13| Updated: 02.14.13

Love can stink or be a-many splendored thing.

Either way, it is a topic to which we can all relate. The powerful emotion will be the theme of "Love & War: A Live Storytelling Event" featuring the Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers Friday.

Hosted by writer, playwright, singer and standup comedienne Satori Shakoor, it will feature Detroiters David Bethel, the Rev. Horace L. Sheffield III, Judy Olds, Douglas Howell and Cheryl James sharing their real-life stories. Musical guest will be GPS, whose music Shakoor calls a cappella Detroit-funk Sweet Honey in the Rock. The event benefits Planned Parenthood Mid and South Michigan.

"This is not 'The Vagina Monologues.' The storyteller interprets the theme love and war. Think of a poetry reading or a poetry slam," says Desiree Cooper, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Mid and South Michigan.

Storytellers may talk about their love-hate relationship with Detroit or how they navigated their difficult family during the holidays, Cooper says.

She explains the event is a way to use art and personal engagement to briefly inform the public of Planned Parenthood's total mission.

"People don't realize that we are out there every day for everyday health care," Cooper says. "Its not top-of-mind; and when it is, it is in a controversial setting but not in a community setting."

Ninety-seven percent of Planned Parenthood's services are annual exams, screenings for cervical and breast cancer, birth control, sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment, HIV testing and education programs.

Shakoor and her band of Twisted Storytellers approached Planned Parenthood about "Love & War" with the hope that those who attend will learn the organization is a part of the community rather than a pariah, Shakoor says.

But the star of the two-hour show will be the emotional and captivating stories that can last up to 12 minutes, Shakoor says.

Formed last July, the Twisted Storytellers get together monthly, featuring five new storytellers and a different theme.

There's a renewed interest in storytelling, thanks in part to National Public Radio's popular "The Moth Radio Hour."

Shakoor, a Detroiter, is a national "Moth Mainstage" host and storyteller whose story, "Family Gatherings and Un-Gatherings," has aired on the program. She also hosts "The Moth Story Slam" in Ann Arbor every third Tuesday.

Shakoor says one reason for the interest in storytelling is the need to connect one-on-one.

"We are a technologically driven society where most of our communication happens when we click our feelings — we like, we don't like, we comment, we share, we see each other's pictures and it looks the same every day and that's about the size of our connection," Shakoor says.

"Love & War," she adds, is also an occasion that draws a diverse group of people.

"Detroit is changing, and it's not going back to the '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s or five or 10 years ago," Shakoor says. "We are going to be living in a diverse city but we don't know anything about each other. So let's come together to hear his, her and their story. Let's connect to humanity. Let's cry when a white man tells his story, let's feel when a black woman tells hers."

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