Ivan Coyote, S. Bear Bergman to Debut New Project About Queer Stories at Smith
Published: Sunday, October 28, 2012
Updated: Sunday, October 28, 2012 22:10
Celebrated queer storytellers Ivan E. Coyote and S. Bear Bergman will present their new work at Smith. The event, organized by Transcending Gender, will feature a new piece by the authors.
Both storytellers do live performances and write books. Coyote is the author of several books, including Bow Grip, The Slow Fix and Missed Her. Bergman, a graduate of Hampshire College, is the author of Butch is a Noun, Gender Outlaws and The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You. Coyote and Bergman both describe their work as “kitchen-table storytelling” but are known for what Coyote describes as “unconventional” subject matter, which tends to focus on queer themes.
The show will mark the first time these stories are performed together.
The storytellers’ queer identities factor into their work, even if their roles fluctuate. “Sometimes I’m writing as a family member, sometimes I’m writing as a lover, sometimes I’m writing as an activist, sometimes I’m writing as a person who doesn’t fit into the gender binary,” explained Coyote.
Bergman, meanwhile, seeks to broaden the definition of queerness. “Queerness happens everywhere, it happens in all kinds of places. [My] concern is that people won’t get it; that queer stories can very much include them or an experience that will feel resonant for them, no matter what their gender or their sexual orientation or their political orientation,” he said.
Event coordinators Em Beauchamp ’15 and Paula Atkeson ’15 feel that Bergman and Coyote will find an appreciative audience at Smith. For Beauchamp, Bergman’s and Coyote’s stories have a personal meaning. “As a masculine-presenting person who’s growing up and who’s eventually going to have her own life, I think it’s really important to hear stories like that, and be like, ‘I am going to have a family, I am going to have a job,’” said Beauchamp.
Atkeson describes Bear’s storytelling as “a new brand of family narrative,” but Bergman describes his work differently. “I think it’s an old kind of family narrative that we have brought back again, and maybe updated a little bit in terms of its details,” he said, adding that storytellers “pass along information ... share values ... teach children moral lessons ... make space for other people to recognize themselves in what we’re talking about and ... create a shared experience that allows everybody who hears the story to have a place and a moment of commonality.”
Neither Bergman nor Coyote could choose between writing or live storytelling. “I can take a lot of time; I can make very, very careful choices. People can sit with things; they can digest them at their own rate. They can share them with people they love or people that they deeply dislike, and none of those things are true with storytelling. Storytelling is bleeding; it’s of the moment, but sometimes that’s the thing about it that’s best,” said Bergman.
“I like the ability to ask the audience to emote together, to all feel something at the same time. I also love … sitting there and creating something that can go out there in the world,” he said.
Their performance will take place on Monday, Oct. 29 at 8 p.m. in Davis Ballroom.