Day 350: Absorption

Ferlinghetti, seen in 1982 in San Francisco, rejects the term ‘memoir’ for his new book. Photograph: Chris Felver/Getty Images

“…and I am waiting
for the Age of Anxiety
to drop dead…”

-“I am Waiting” by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, (b. 1919- d. 2021) 

Something funny happened to me the other day.  First off I had a bad day.  Nothing too extreme, just your normal run-of-the-mill bummer of a day.  I was feeling inadequate at work and falling behind in some personal goals.  My little apartment is my sanctuary.  Pulling into my parking space, sitting in the car for a moment to collect myself, the weight of the day became known.  Dang, what a day!

Walked in to set my stuff in the house. Got the mail key. Went out to grabbed the day’s mail. Went back inside. Looked through it at my desk.  It’s Tuesday so grocery flyer day. A bunch of recycling from one box to another. One letter caught my attention immediately—no mistaking it, it was a check.  Inside was a letter from the local book store along with a check for the sale of ten of my poetry books, approximately $65.  The letter explained the 4th quarter payments are late due to accounting circumstances. I was bummed thinking nothing sold last quarter, but, apparently, somethings sold. So, this is good news.  But…I stared at the check and the letter with no exclamation or acknowledgment.  I was still processing my crappy day.  I needed to process my crappy day. I wanted to turn the key from sad to glad right away but instead, I said, “I’ll celebrate tomorrow, or Saturday.”  A voice replied, “Did you just schedule HAPPINESS?” 



Words Under My Skin

Can the lines of a book or poem hug you?  Yes.  Comfort comes in many forms and during this freakin’ pandemic I would guess many of us are seeking comfort in any form we can get it.  I sure am.

A shift that has started in my writing is absorption.  For the previous decade, poems came to me, loudly, processing through my mind and body and shooting out my fingertips to the page.  I appreciated the clarity of the thought.  What’s happening now is I hear the poem and just friggin’ savor it.  I’m keeping the words within me. Like a dissolving lozenge, the flavor slowly works its way through my soul, feeding my very essence.  Sounds dramatic?  It is.  A bit of a mini-drama.  My knee jerks to hurry up and capture the thought on paper, my throat wanting to continue the precious perception, says gently, simply, NO.

Writers have a natural progression, you get an idea you write, or you need to form an idea so you write.  Writers write.  The stanzas coming to me throughout my day and dream time should be placed onto the page. Perhaps the moments are attempts of my psyche to heal the mind and body, acknowledge and absorb the beauty around me, helping me to recover from a bad day.  Maybe I’m just being lazy.  Fresh words and stories come by for a visit and I talk with them and keep them in my heart.

Perhaps we can force another Age of Enlightenment onto the planet? Let’s keep creating and loving each other and see what happens. Have a good day wherever you are. -Shannon

P.S. I was looking forward to perhaps some aliens landing, or a break down of society completely but it looks like the vaccine is coming out and masks are coming off in September (my guess for Bellingham, WA.) *sigh* no fun.

Drafts and Thoughts

Mary Oliver writes in her poem “Angels”,

“The whole business of what’s reality and what isn’t has never been solved and probably never will be. So I don’t care to be too definite about anything. I have a lot of edges called Perhaps and almost nothing you can call Certainty.”

Blue Horses: Poems, by Mary Oliver, Penguin Books, 2016.

With that being said, perhaps…

when gods make love, they create nebulas

that’s a lot of LOVE! Photo credit: https://www.skyimagelab.com/

Below are two poem drafts to share today. I’d love some feedback if you’re up for it.
I was in Village Books the other day and saw my book “Fallen” on the shelf. It came out in 2017, four years ago. Hmmmmm… If I were to guess, I think I have one more poetry book in me, possibly by 2022. I hope it is picked up and published traditionally, and I return to the open mic circuit to launch the book properly. My first two books were self-published, “Fallen” was my first traditionally published. Thank you Independent Writers Studio, of Bellingham, WA.
Self-publishing has its rewards, but I cannot emphasize enough the power of traveling the area with your book in hand, meeting your readers/followers, in person. I wonder, and am hesitant to declare, that a self-published book not advertised, given away to your family and friends only, is, generally speaking, a waste of paper. The written word has power. Why hide that potential under your bed? Share your work. Try it. You’ll like it.

1/16/21
It is a new year. I write the number and it feels the same as 2020
The new-yearness will not appear until the end of February
after a late Northwest snow
The old year, the previous skin, will hang on a bit and fog my eyes
My hand refused to write a “1”
IT IS TIME
pun intended to tell me
it is time
The styles do not change, technology crawls
very few items in my home could tell me what decade I’m in
if I had the gift to slip about time

If you take a person from 1880 and place them in 1980
The 1980s would appear to be a different world entirely
But take a person from 1998 to 2021…not too many changes
All the advancements and we simply have smaller, thinner phones
Did anyone ask for a smaller phone?
We die of cancer, disease, starvation, and war
To answer the call, our technicians and scientists
developed a Fitbit and placed TV in our pockets
to track our racing heartbeats while watching the news

WARM WINTER
The leaves scratch the air
as the frozen drops of winter tap my window
in the middle of the night
they want in
to take over my home
return it back to soil
I am sure of it
The potted plants by the glass
seduce the storm
arms beg it to set them free
while a drizzle of rooftop runoff
piddles down a leaking drain pipe
Even a worm comes out to comment
on the weather war
High and humble
worn and cold
the snow shovel
stands at attention
in a dark corner
ready to fight

#

Memes of my feels today. Thank you for your visit.
Stay safe. Stay healthy. Keep writing. -Shannon

##

Interview: Bellingham Alive

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!

http://northsoundlife.com/lifestyle/exploring-human-condition-art/

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 poemboothbham@gmail.com. Winners receive $25 cash and a $25 gift certificate to the Community Co-op.

shannonplawswriter.com

 

Bellingham Alive, November 2017 cover

Event: You Love Me, You Love Me Not

You’re invited…

Flyer by SPL (my inner child) Please print, color me and share

Save the Date!

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/

 

Tongue in Ink

by Shannon P. Laws

The best poems are not written in ink but by the tongue
Spoken into the air never finding paper
Touched by the mist of breath against your neck
Said in the dark rooms where lovers meet
 
Not at all recorded nor syllables numbered
But art form just the same
Once activated and released the words are all lost
Left to moments that linger
Holding each other in sweaty embrace
As if the sheets themselves are sentences
  

Poem: Broken Branch

Fall by street panda, photo credit- BuzzFeed

 

Broken Branch

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

This time
my foot
my balance
my judgment
failed

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

 

 

 

Event: Kirkland’s Book Tree Open Mic

You’re invited…

Book Tree
609 MARKET ST, KIRKLAND, WA
August 19, 2017
6:30-8:30

BOOKTREE, 609 MARKET ST, KIRKLAND, WA 98033, (425) 202-7791

 

“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:
http://www.booktreekirkland.com/new-events/2017/8/19/third-saturday-poetryiseverything-reading-open-mic

I’ll be reading from my new book “Fallen” with books on hand for sale and signing, $10.  Hope to see you there!

Event: Redmond Poets in the Park

You’re invited…

 
Anderson Park    |    7802 168th Ave NE    |    Redmond, Washington

Featuring Washington State Poet Laureate Tod Marshall and many other guests!
 
Poets in the Park in 2017 celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Redmond Association of Spokenword. Readings for 2017 will once again feature groups and organizations, with 25-minute reading slots. We also have 55-minute workshops, our book fair, vendors, open-mic readings, and more—and its all free! Visit the website to see the schedule. 
Enjoy poetry readings and performances on our Café and Picnic Shelter stages, workshops in our workshop cabin, and activities, installations, and vendors throughout the park, plus our poetry book fair (coordinated by Rebecca Willow, with no commission taken)—all FREE! Bring your own lunch to enjoy on the lawn or in our café area. Poetry putt-putt (mini-golf), chalk poetry, hula hoops, Haiku on Sticks, art/craft activities for kids and adults (sponsored by VALA Art Center and Jim Teeters), RASP poetry anthology poems on sticks, and more!
See the Facebook invite. Tweet to #poetsinthepark.

I will be reading on the Main Stage, 3:00 p.m., with the Clover: A Literary Rag group
AND I will have copies of “Fallen”
on hand to sell.

This is a great poetry packed day.  See you there!

Event Everett Poetry Night

Come one, come all!

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.

Kickstarter “Fallen”

Help support my Kickstarter

Click here to visit the Kickstarter site 

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

WHY “FALLEN”

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.

REVIEWS

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!

Thank you

Fallen” Kickstarter Site HERE