Here it is! Better late than never. Folks were asking for the link to the Bellingham Alive article (November 2017 issue) by KATE GALAMBOS. Kate touched on my writing, radio and Poem Booth work. Thank you Kate, and THANK YOU Bellingham Alive for placing me next to my crush Rick Steves!
Bellingham has its artistic success stories (Death Cab for Cutie, comedian Ryan Stiles), but it also has its grassroots luminaries. Author, poet, and radio producer Shannon Laws is one. She has the privilege of not only being one of many talented Bellingham artists, but possesses a passion for supporting the local art community. Since beginning her writing career in 2009, she has expanded her reach to radio and community art installation.
Laws has always wanted to be an author. At just 12, she announced to her mother that one day she would be. “I’m sure that statement made her smile. I had poor grammar and spelling skills,” Laws said. Years later, Laws began writing poetry after finding herself in a dark time of life. While living on San Juan Island, she was intrigued by a writing class offered by Pacific Northwest author Susan Wingate. “That class changed the direction of my creative life and gave me hope.”
In June, Laws released her third book of poetry, “Fallen.” The collection explores loss, heartache, and quiet eroticism. Draped in dark humor and metaphor, the writing is a middle-of-life work that aims to “ask questions about a dark past, finding truth in the now, while (being) confident about how it all ends.” The book was a community effort, edited and published by Bellingham residents (Independent Writers Studio Press). Laws said she hopes readers find solace in the familiarity of the poetry. Grief is never felt the same, but her collection aims to lead readers through the process of loss. “I’m saying to the reader, ‘Come join me while I wallow around in my mottled life. We’re all a bit muddy. Let’s take that mud, cook it in the sun, and build a home together.” Loss is never a clean endeavor, and that is all right.
Beyond her writing, Laws produces the award-winning radio show, Bellingham Art Beat, which airs on Make.Shift Radio (KZAX LP-FM 94.9) and online at KPNW-DB. In March, the weekly program has been awarded the 38th Annual Mayor’s Art Award for its advocacy for local artists. It covers the art scene with live interviews and music. Laws draws much of her inspiration from the radio show. Each interview brings to light the awesomeness of the human experience. “I fall in love with everyone I interview,” Laws said. While each experience differs, we are all part of human existence. Our experiences are as unique as our fingerprints, she said. Laws is driven by inspiring stories of survival from all dimensions, big and small.
Laws also has had the opportunity to be a part of an unusual revival project. All over the country, phone booths have become dilapidated, seemingly pointless structures once the phones are removed. Working in partnership with artist Christen Mattix, and poet Summer Starr, the team refurbished a phone booth to beautifully house poetry. The Poem Booth can be spotted outside the downtown Community Co-op on North Forest Street. Today, the booth stands as a bright, clean, and inspiring art installation, hosting a new poem on a quarterly basis. Poems can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org. Winners receive $25 cash and a $25 gift certificate to the Community Co-op.
This event is an early 5:00 p.m. set designed for you and your sweetie to enjoy a special day together, a passionate spark to get things started. Also, a great time for anyone who is a fan of love and wants to support the Alt Library and local artist. (I think we’re talkin’ about YOU) You’ll hear from poets Eric Kosarot and James Bertolino. The featured poet is Shannon P. Laws who will be reading select love poems accompanied by Greg Sherman on upright bass. This is also the first Bellingham reading from her new book “Fallen”, 2017.
Come early Kathy McKeever, Urban Cauldron, will be available to read your LOVE tarot 4:00 p.m.-6:30 p.m. Kathy is a professional, long time tarot reader and teacher of tarot. She is an expert in the art of divination.
Tickets are suggested $5 or donation, tips encouraged for tarot reader
Books by authors will be on hand for purchase
James Bertolino’s poetry has received recognition through a Book-of-the-Month Club Poetry Fellowship, the Discovery Award, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, two Quarterly Review of Literature book publication awards, and the Jeanne Lohmann Poetry Prize for Washington State Poets. He has had 12 volumes of poetry published, the most recent being Ravenous Bliss: New and Selected Love Poems, 2014, from MoonPath Press. http://www.jamesbertolino.com/
by Shannon P. Laws
by Shannon P. Laws
There is a moment
in most lives when
that old dog proves useless
the rhododendron branch cannot
hold the weight and we fall
The first fall in many years
When was the last time I fell
A gopher hole in the grassy field
A twisted root at Arroyo Creek
A frozen puddle near the store
It will not happen again
but it will
Three times after 70
and they lock you up
A body slaps the Earth
gravity reminds it where it’s from
A glimpse of the end of the skin’s journey
destine humbleturned desire to return to sand
If I wait long enough
I will soon feed the roots
that tripped me
“Don’t miss a-sure-to-be-memorable evening featuring some excellent Bellingham-area spoken word artists and poets on Saturday, August 19, 2017. Our feature readers include: , Shannon Laws, Gary Wade and Dobbie Reese Norris. I expect several other Whatcom, Snohomish and King County poets to be sharing things on our open mic… and of course YOU too! (just bring a poem or two – or very very short prose piece to read and sign up on the open mic list!) Bring a friend!”
Event details and Facebook link here:
I’ll be reading from my new book “Fallen” with books on hand for sale and signing, $10. Hope to see you there!
Such a joy to feature again at Zippy’s. Great poetry-loving crowd. Duane is a wonderful host. Zippy’s offers yummy sandwiches. It’s a win, win, win. I’ll be reading for the first time from my new book, “Fallen” with FRESHLY PRINTED copies on hand to take home.
I’m carpooling down to Everett. Message me if you’d like to join us, there are two spaces left.
For two years I have been working on my third poetry book “Fallen”. It’s 85 pages long and has 47 select poems written between the years 2014-2016. The book block is finished, the cover is designed, one print copy in hand. The book was set to release Spring 2017. However, I was laid off from work mid-December 2016 and the funds to get it printed are no longer available. I am asking for the printing costs $280. This will cover the KICKSTARTER fees, tax and the printing of 25 books from a local press. My first reading feature is scheduled for June 29th in Everett, WA. I need to have books to sell at this reading. Please consider a donation. Every little bit will help.
The Kickstarter ends May 31, 2017
I’ve been writing poetry since 2009. I paid for the printing of the previous two books, “Madrona Grove” 2012, “Odd Little Things” 2014, at an independent press. Both were released with moderate fanfare. What makes “Fallen” special is that in 2016 I challenged myself to write about the loss of my daughter. She would have turned 25 in 2016. Poetry is a good friend to me. It helps me to define emotion, understand a complex system, helps me to view the world. I asked myself, “WHY haven’t you written any poetry about THAT night?” So, I started writing.
My mother, a retired counselor, teachers a “Loss and Grief” class at her church located a half hour south of Seattle, WA. She has shared a handful of my poetry as an aide to her mourning students. Her students are encouraged to use the poems as an example to start their own poems or prose. This gives voice to their lamentations, which is an important step in the grieving process.
Earlier this year when my editor Mary Gillilan and I were working on the cover, I sent an advanced reading to a few established Northwest poets for cover blurbs. Here is what they had to share:
“With Fallen, Shannon Laws has evolved into someone that readers in the northwest should pay attention to. Like a complex pantomime, Laws’ charming, conversational lyric style hides poems that are personal yet complex, dark, intense, deep, heartbreaking, and at times hilarious. Each of them also have a subtle grit and seriousness to them. Like all poets worth their salt, she doesn’t the dichotomy of being particular and speaking to many audiences. Highly, highly recommended.”
–Robert Lashley, author of The Homeboy Songs
Shannon Laws has been, in many ways, an asset to her community. This book demonstrates that “there’s a revelation flowing…along the ridges of her galaxy.” She employs “footholds of green” to “take our minds to another place.” Shannon Laws is top-niche.
–James Bertolino, author of Ravenous Bliss: New & Selected Love Poems
“Shannon Laws’ poems are ventures, many journeys of the mind and imagination and others literal walks, day and night, to and from home, work, and school; they render fresh observations of the routine and familiar: interactions in kitchen and living quarters, fields of local plants and critters, the hum of machinery. They also probe the mysteries of the human condition, posing elemental issues: love and death and loss, the aching solitariness of human experience, the straining for meaning, clarity and confirmation, the yearning for contact and connection, and the guises humans adopt in the consequent interchange.”
—Ron Leatherbarrow, Professor of Literature, Whatcom Community College
“Shannon Law’s poetry entices the reader along a windy path of shared emotion, at times tiptoeing gently toward the topic, at others racing headlong toward it, and at times inviting humor in. The mix is wonderful. From that girl in school who builds forts, to the new owner of a used mattress who sleeps in the body-shaped dip left by its prior occupant, to a three-timing lover, to the loss of a child, these poems circumscribe a relatable life and invite introspection. It is nearly impossible to pick just one favorite from this gem of a book.”
—Laurel Leigh, author of the blog Dear Writers
“In “ Fallen”, Shannon Laws has written polished and evocative poetry that intrigues the reader page after page, often demanding one backs-up and re-reads. Her metaphorical language is usually of common words that she newly loads with much information…
I challenge you to find our own favourite poems with lines that you will remember in admiration and repeat to others. She is a master of bringing significant life changes alive with pain or passion in a few well chosen words! ”
—Bernice Lever, “Small Acts”, Black Moss Press, Windsor, ON, Canada
This poetry is not camera-shy. Full of imagery and emotion, it ranges across the days with bursts of action and reflection. Laws writes of quiet eroticism, as well as memory and humor from the north Pacific region, where she has lived most of her life. Shannon P. Laws has gifts of observation, humanity, and powerful expression. A valuable choice for poetry lovers, who will find it natural to read and understand.
——Denise DuMaurier, author of Follow Me Down
I’d like to take my book on tour, share, listen, laugh, cry and hug folks along the way. After I print the initial 25 books and test it on a small local tour, I’m going to transfer the book to a print-on-demand site offered through a well-known independent bookstore located in the historic district of Fairhaven in Bellingham, Washington.
Help me do it!
I hide my hands from my lover
Dripping in apple’s wine
The season is now morning
And you do not harvest
I shall pick the fruit
Forgotten by my lover
I shall reap the rewards
Of the farmer’s labor
Dance across the leaves
That shine with dew
Hop along the river
A trail you once knew