Susan Gordon: Storyteller, writer, poet, teacher, & counselor

susanupcloseTelling It Like It Is: an eight week course in which each woman chooses a story, learns to tell it and explores/notices how the story speaks to her life.

Taming the Monster; Reclaiming the Self: an eight week therapeutic group for men and women in recovery from addiction. It uses storytelling, writing, poetry and art in addition to the Twelve Steps to support and sustain the choice to live a life free of drugs and alcohol.

On Becoming: a storytelling class for men and women over the age of 60. Susan writes, as we enter this phase of life, there is an invitation to note the way we have come and what matters to us now. It is a time to explore what we hope to yet accomplish and the legacy we want to leave through a series of exercises that call forth our stories. These stories invite awareness; they will help the listeners recognize the truly heroic journey we embark on in our elder years. We will see how our single story threads weave together a tapestry of meaning.

The Hero’s Journey through Stories: a twelve week course in which a range of stories, fairy tales, folk tales, Jack Tales, and trickster stories, is used to explore each stage in the Hero’s Journey, from the Call to Adventure to the Obstacles Encountered, Help Received, Crisis Resolved and Return Home. A one day or half day class can be created by the telling of one or two stories to depict one or two aspects of the Hero’s Journey.

The Art of Biblical Storytelling: Bible stories are filled with complex and complicated characters who are wrestling with the difficult dilemmas. Engaging with these stories or learning to tell them gives the tellers the chance to wrestle deeply themselves.

Weekend Retreats led in both religious and secular settings. Susan will create a retreat to meet a particular community’s needs using either storytelling or writing. To deepen the story or writing process, art or improvisational drama might also be used. The focus of the retreat is not the creation of a product but rather the way these modalities support the life of the retreat participant and the retreat community.

One Day or Half-Day Sessions in which a story is told or a piece of writing is shared to help a group explore, question and more deeply engage with themselves and/or a community issue.

Grimms and Little Bit More: a concert of Grimms’ stories and one other folktale from another culture. The concert can stand alone and the teller will be happy to engage the listeners in a discussion and exploration of the stories. She can also discuss the applied uses of these stories.

The Use of Storytelling in Therapeutic Settings: Susan Gordon, a storyteller with master’s degree in therapeutic storytelling and a licensed addictions counselor, will design storytelling sessions for different client groups and facilitate their engagement with the story using art, writing, discussion, improvisational drama or telling by the clients. Listening to a story allows a listener to move beneath their defenses, helping him or her to explore important issues, to more clearly understand his or her own story and then because stories have a distinct structure, a clear end, to safely return to the everyday world. Susan designs a process for a client population while working in concert with the client’s individual or group therapist.

From the Handless Maiden to Jack: Trauma and Rage, Susan tells two stories that depict abuse and responses to abuse. These stories can be heard by therapists to gain a deeper understanding of their clients. Susan has often told these stories, separately or together, with abuse survivors and facilitated that process using art and discussion with the support of the clients’ therapists.

The Nya Nya Bulembu: Exploring the Monster’s Skin and Who Lives Within. Susan tells a Swati story of a girl wrapped in a monster’s skin for ten years. This story has been helpful to abused clients and equally helpful to clients who appear caught in destructive attitudes and behaviors. The creation of masks or containers can be used to explore the personal meaning of this story for the listener.

Meeting the Trickster: from Coyote to Brer Rabbit. A concert or a concert followed by a deeper engagement with these stories and an understanding of their purpose within their culture. Coyote Stories are sacred stories that can only be told in the winter months.

Scary Tales: Barney McCabe to Mary Cullerton, stories for fun and fear.

Dancing Down Darkness:  – selected excerpts or whole story  This performance is a collage of personal stories, tales and portraits that show the incredible spirit of my daughter, Liz Gordon, who died suddenly of a heart attack in 2007. The story invites the listener meet the young woman Liz was and notes all the discoveries I have made since her death. This story invites every parent, every friend to indulge in love.

An African storyteller once said that “No one is truly dead as long as their story is told.” And so the process I have undertaken with this story is also an example of one way to manage the bereavement process.  I can follow this performance with a process which will allow the listener to more fully engage with the story and the issues of life, death and the grieving and recovery process that follows such a profound loss.

These stories can stand alone as a concert or be used as a jumping off point to explore such diverse topics as being a parent or a child, living through grief or remembering a person through story or writing.

Animal Tales: Susan reads stories about her own animals and their antics. A stand-alone concert or an opportunity to tell or write your own animal tales.

Poems: Susan reads a few selected poems or essays, a short concert which can be followed by discussion and the opportunity to write or tell in response.

Fiction: Susan reads portions of stories she has written: the travail’s of a barrel racing horse, a scared boy who needs to be brave, and the tale of the stick woman in search of her daughter.