Creating connections through the arts and across cultures

Susan J. Tweit on The Power of Story

I first became acquainted with Susan Tweit through Women Writing the West. Last Spring, in Texas, at the Story Circles conference "Land Full of Stories" I finally got to hear her speak, and chat with her and her artist-husband for a bit. Susan is a strong, clear, dedicated, and delightful writer. You can learn more about her work at her website: http://susanjtweit.com and her blog: http://communityoftheland.blogspot.com. I know you'll enjoy her comments on the power of story, and why each of us need to say to our pens, "Write!" --JGR
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I believe in the power of story. It's one of the most important ways we transmit "memes," a word British author Richard Dawkins coined to describe the "units of cultural transference." Memes, Dawkins says, transfer the bits of human culture the way genes allow us to inherit biological characteristics. Memes can come in stories, song lyrics, fashions, advertisements, decorating styles, dances, slang - anything that carries a until of culture. It's a really interesting concept, and one that comes up in my memoir, Navigating By the Stars, which is under consideration at U of Texas Press.

Susan J. Tweit telling plant stories in Colorado
Susan telling a story of the land

I believe that we need every voice. Each story or poem or essay is important in the way that each species is important: they are part of our cultural toolbox, our way to understand the world and cope with the changes it brings. A culture with few stories is like an ecosystem with few species - it may not have enough strategies, enough knowledge, to successfully survive whatever life throws its way. Each of our voices and experiences and stories are part of the knowledge-bank that strengthens our culture and makes the life of our species richer and more lasting.

So write away, with all the love and care you can bring to your work!

copyright 2007, Susan J. Tweit

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2 Responses »

  1. Susan, you say: "Each of our voices and experiences and stories are part of the knowledge-bank that strengthens our culture and makes the life of our species richer and more lasting."

    This resonates with me quite a lot. Thank you for the encouragement.

  2. Damaria,

    I'm glad my post was encouraging. I believe that each of us has something special to bring to this world, whether it's our particular understanding of some issue or our cultural inheritance or our passion for one part of life. I believe that each voice forms a part of the whole, like a song that is richer for each particular way of singing, or a tapestry made up of many threads in differing colors and thicknesses and fibers. When one voice is missing, the song we make loses some of its resonance; when one thread is pulled out, a piece of the pattern is gone. So keep on speaking out and telling your stories - they are part of the whole that we call life!

    Susan

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