“…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.
So, how was your 2014? What a mixed bad of nuts, right.
Robots went to Mars, the Rosetta spacecraft‘s Philae probe successfully lands on Comet 67P, the Ferguson, Mo. ruling (WTH?), the die-ins, Russia hosts the Olympics, Pussy Riot spoke out, Brazil puts on a dynamic show for the FIFA World Cup, the TV news world goes nuts over the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, the US government continues to play games instead of governing, stunning display of the aurora borealis viewed by people as far south as Seattle, and some dy-no-mite sun activity causing cell/satellite outages. Fun. Fun. Fun. You were there, I don’t need to go into detail, but what a strange, wild, wonderful, and horrific year.
Here at the S.P. Laws office we had a… lets call it “productive” year. Many improvements are in place to help launch us off into an even more productive schedule for 2015. Here is the years recap:
2014 started off on the good foot with a breathtaking announcement in April. A letter came in the mail to officially notify me I was selected for 2013 Mayor’s Arts Award recipient “Poet”, along with many powerful folks in the Bellingham arts community, including my “Writer Idol” Laurel Leigh. Here we are celebrating at The Temple Bar afterwards with productive and energizing writers Susan Chase-Foster and Janet Oakley.
Also in April I was invited to speak with two lovely poets Jennifer Bullis (Bellingham) and Heather Curtis (Anacortes) for Heather’s book launch “Upon Waking” and for National Poetry Month. I could not be in better company. A fine set of poets.
In June my second poetry book, “Odd Little Things”, was released. Special thanks to my dear friend and editor Denise DuMaurier for her help. I edited my first book “Madrona Grove” by myself, in addition to formatting it. (I’ll never do that again) I learned my lesson. Editors are good people to know & hire. Don’t be afraid to use an editor. My two cents.
“Odd Little Things” is a familiar ride full of piercing moments and wishes. In this, her second book of poetry, Shannon bares all making you feel like best friends at a café sharing secrets. The cycles of life seem to spin like an unforgiving stellar system for this poet. However large or small, everything matters, especially the moments you only share with yourself. Shannon says about her new book, “If ‘Madrona Grove’ is my lover, then ‘Odd Little Things’ is my child.”
BTW: This fall a second edition of Madrona Grove was graciously edited by poet master, retired professor, James Bertolino. Available now at Village Books, click here: Madrona Grove VB
June marked the end of The New Americana Hour’s second season. It was a double punch to the intellect and heart. Such an honor to be apart of this program. I am a volunteer producer for a non-profit radio station in Bellingham, KMRE 102.3 LP, that broadcasts out of the SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention.
This season just touched my heart greatly. It was as if the seed co-host, Jon Winter and I planted last year decided to reward us with a bodacious bloom. Musician’s approached us hearing about the show from their colleagues, asking to be a guest on it. TNAH also connected with the Seattle based television program“Band in Seattle”. The success of last years line up and increase of listeners has contributed to two new sponsors for 2015.
September presented two magnificent opportunities to spread some SPL poetry: 2014 Tagore Festival in B.C. and the official book launch of “Odd Little Things”.
The Tagore Festival is always a treat. The music, films, history, traditional Bengal clothing and dance ignites the senses! Carla Shaffer and I were invited to read on the Friday performance.
For my book launch I invited two poet friends of mine to join me. Now, you know I can fill up an hour’s worth of podium time, however, I saw this as an opportunity to share the space with two of Bellingham’s finest: Carla Shafer and Erica Reed. Carla is the long time host of Chuckanut Sandstone Writers Theater, and Erica the host of Kitchen Sessions (2012-14), two inspiring open mics in town. This was the first time, that I am aware of it anyways, where three poetry group hosts gathered to read their poetry for an audience. Thank you Village Books for providing the space and promotion. I believe there was a cross-pollination, an intermingling if you will, of poet circles. Good times.
In September we also hosted the second annual “Poets for Peace, Read-in! Write-on!” event. This year held on a Friday night. The program is simple: opening ceremonies, soup/salad dinner, poets and musicians read and sing about what peace means to them. It ends when the last poet speaks. This is the only peace read-in in Bellingham. I hosted the event along with my Peace Sisters Carla Shafer and author and poet C.J. Prince. Watching members from Seattle to B.C. share their peace poems is like a healing, and good massage, calming down the anxiety of questions regarding humanities future. “World peace starts with me” – peace is to be shared freely.
The last event I was fortunate to be apart of was in November, a fundraiser for the Whatcom Juvenile Justice Creative Writing Project. Held at the glamorous Encore Room at the Mt. Baker Theater. The audience was generous and responsive to touching poetry by all artists. Kevin Murphy was the exclamation point at the end of the evening with his bongo poems that everyone can relate to. Man, I love that guy!
What a year. My writing is a great release, and a reward thanks to a responsive writing and book worm community here in Bellingham. Connecting with people, my neighbors, sharing intimate work like poetry, music, a smile and a handshake, is like a great reward, an enrichment to my little life. People are amazing.
This summer I am hoping to expand my readings outside of Bellingham. I’m hoping for an Anacortes reading, perhaps LaConner, South King County and Seattle. Just crossing my fingers that time and money will be available for those events. This December I moved into a tiny apartment. Like Virginia Wolf, I have a room of one’s own (and kitchen and a bath). Here is my launching pad for 2015. I wonder where it will take me?
“Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” Virginia Wolf
My new poetry book, Odd Little Things, will officially launch September 6, 2014 at Village Books, 4-5:00. Please join me and my two poet-sisters, Carla Shafer and Erica Reed as we share our poetry. Books will be available for purchase and sign at the event.
I asked Carla and Erica to join me in my celebratory hour, mainly because I am a fan of their work, both on paper and within the community. Carla’s graceful, intelligent writing makes me marvel at life’s organized beauty. Erica is more like a surgeon with her pen, digging into areas of the heart and mind, exposing those delicate memories that need to be explored.
These woman are outstanding pillars in the writer community. They care, they listen, they show up. Dedicated to keeping the writing arts alive in Bellingham, Carla and Erica create platforms for area artist to express themselves; with projects like Fairhaven Art Block, writing poetry by request at the Farmer’s Market, and Read-ins for Peace.
I am filled with joy and encouragement over this award. It is a humbling experience to be listed with the other artist from the past years and those receiving it today. Many of whom are on my list of people I want to be someday.
I believe I share this award with organizations that were here long before I arrived to Bellingham, in winter of 2010. Places such as: Village Books Chuckanut Sandstone Writers Theater Whatcom Poetry Series: Poetry Night Open Mic and KMRE 102.3 SPARK Radio that broadcasts out of the SPARK Museum on Bay Street
It was through these community centered groups that I was able to find a good reason to be busy on Tuesdays and Wednesdays 12-3, or Sundays 1-4. 2013 was a busy and productive year for poetry, and I am glad to of been apart of it.
Roosevelt said: “Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.” As militant as this sounds, action is required to better our surroundings. Actions. Not wishful thinking. Lets all work together to build a better tomorrow.
Thank you Mayor Linville, the Bellingham Arts Commission, and my friends and family for your support.
It is with great joy and thanks to our Mayor Kelli Linville and the Bellingham Arts Commission that I share with you my good news: I am a recipient of the Mayor’s Arts Award, 2013. Truly a once in a lifetime award!
2013 was an outstanding year in the area of community literature and arts outreach. Sparks of creativity, and the desire to extend past the coffee houses, birthed new events for our city. Through events such as the international “Poets for Peace, Read-in, Write-on”, the FAB (Fairhaven Art Block) party, and the radio feature “Poetic Moments”, poets and writers found new ways to bring encouragement, insight, and art to citizens.
Bellingham is a city of artists, a city of poets, a city of musicians, and I am happy to be apart it.
Please join the other recipients, and me for the reception and awards ceremony 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 30th at the Mount Baker Theatre in the Walton Theatre located at 104 N. Commercial Street in downtown Bellingham.
Tore Ofteness – Photographer
Margaret Bikman – Entertainment News Coordinator
Laurel Leigh – Author and Editor
Jack Frymire – Opera Singer and Educator
Shannon Laws – Poet
Becky Elmendorf – Former Whatcom Symphony Orchestra President
Alan Rhodes – Community Columnist
The Mayor’s Arts Awards ceremony is an annual opportunity for the Mayor to recognize individual artists and businesses, benefactors, arts organizations, arts community leadership, arts education or support, civic improvement and research, notable achievements and events, and those that have contributed to the arts in our community.