Christmas Card 2016

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2016 SPL Office photo, Chris Pine, Benedict Cumberbatch, Shannon Laws, Vin Diesel, Robert Downey Jr., on location at the Chickadee Productions “2016 Sucked Lemons” retreat on Mount Baker

CLICK to view the 2016 SPL Staff Christmas Card

Christmas Card 2016

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Beyonce performing at the Super Bowl January 2016. She released “Lemonade” in April, her the sixth studio album, was nominated for four Emmys.

Entering the last week of the year I can’t help but get a little reflective.  This year was tough for me personally, and the unrest throughout our nation added more frustrations.
I really wanted to start this letter with the sentence, “What a suck-ass year 2016 was, right?”, but I suppose some people had a good year, we know Beyoncé and “Hamilton” aren’t complaining.

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Hip Hop musical “Hamilton” put politics on stage and politicians in the audience

So many stories, headlines, deaths moved me in 2016.  Please allow me to vent a bit and share a few moments that stirred me.   Major news stories from 2016 read like a murder mystery.  There were more unprovoked shootings of Black Americans by police prompting nationwide protest and adding strength to the “Black Lives Matter” campaign.  Meanwhile, a large group of conservative, white ranchers in Oregon had an armed standoff at a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon.  The confrontation lasted over a month.  Only one man was killed and the whole group was acquitted. If the protestors in Oregon were Black, there is no question in my mind that a much different, more violent,  situation would have unfolded.

San Francisco 49ers' Colin Kaepernick (7) and Eric Reid (35) kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)
San Francisco 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick (7) and Eric Reid (35) kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn) Overall, police have killed at least 67 people since Kaepernick’s protest began, according to The Guardian’s database. Roughly 22 percent of the victims have been black. Police have killed more than 780 people so far in 2016, according to The Guardian’s numbers. At least 193 of those people ― or about 25 percent ― were black. Of the 15 black people killed since Kaepernick’s demonstration started, at least 11 were shot, according to The Washington Post’s tracker of fatal police shootings.

 

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Parents protesting in Flint, Michigan

2016 saw the end of “Bradgelina”, Nobel laureate Bob Dylan, #Oscarssowhite, El Chapo, the world’s most sought-after drug lord and commander of a vast narcotics empire that stretches across continents is captured, the lead in Flint Michigan’s water and the fight for clean water in North Dakota and Canada.  The massive surge of refugees, primarily from Syria and Afghanistan, into Europe continued, estimated over 300,000 people, dodging war conflict.  Was it this surge that prompted the “Brexit” vote?

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Police from six states have been marshaled by the state of North Dakota to attempt to shut down protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline by tribal members from across the country and their supporters. The pipeline is projected to cross the Missouri River within a half mile of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. TNS, photo credit: Kansas City news

AND if 2016 wasn’t freaking bad enough, we lost David Bowie, Prince and Alan Rickman, and the nation lost it’s ‘effin mind during the presidential election.  Election years are always exhausting but this one proved to be even more so.  My viewpoint of it, in metaphor, of course,  is well illustrated in our animated Christmas card (link at the top of the post) acted out by the SPL Staff, Brad, Vince, Chris, Benedict and myself;

WE built the monster with our own hands.
I can only hope the next four years end as well as the card,
with the large man-made monster embracing it’s maker.

 

Here are the highlights of my personal 2016.
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graphic designed by Daniel Laws

In January I got the fever to start a new radio show.  After leaving KMRE a few months prior, I looked to a new station starting up just a few blocks over, broadcasting out of the Make.Shift Art Space on Flora in downtown Bellingham.  Bellingham Art Beat was born!  Featuring a half hour format, two interviews and music, the goal of the program is to inspire and inform the listener. The first season I interviewed 36 people for 18 shows.  The second season started December 19th.

 

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KZAX LP FM 94.9 Make.Shift Radio

February featured at Kings Book Store in Tacoma, Washington.  Felt good.  Made a goal to read outside of Whatcom County in ’16, so goal accomplished.  The folks at the reading were very kind, buying my dinner. My mom and her friend were able to attend.Mother's Day Poster 2016

In May I coordinated and hosted the Mother’s Day Big Rock Garden poetry reading.  The sun was out and the podium brilliant.

peace-arts-workshopsJuly and August World Peace Poets collaborated with the Whatcom Peace & Justice Center sponsoring writing workshops by local teachers.

September included two events. The 4th annual “World Peace Poets Read-In for Peace” was held on September 24th.  A great event, always fresh new poetry shared, good food, good company. 2016 poetsforpeace 8x11 poster

Then on the September 30th, I performed fifteen minutes worth sea feastof Sea inspired poetry for the first annual Bellingham SeaFeast.  Two stages were active with “Fisherpoets” throughout the day at Boundary Bay Brewery off Railroad Avenue in Bellingham.

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“Fallen” working cover

By October I had the makings for my third poetry book “Fallen”.  It’s set to release spring 2017.  I am very excited to work with “Clover: a Literary Rag” coordinator/editor Mary Gillilan. The theme for my new book is loss.  This year,2016, marks the 25th birthday of my daughter Meaghan.  Meaghan passed away at the age of three. It was a tragic and sudden death.  Although the entire collection is not about death and loss, it is a thought-provoking assortment.  I hope the words may comfort others and create the space necessary for healing.

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Team Poem Booth

November was Poem Booth Kickstarter month!  Back in September Christen Mattix contacted Summer Star and me to help transform a derelict phone booth into a POEM  BOOTH.  Probably the most ambitious project, next to the new radio show, for me this year.  Thanks to 20 backers we met the $300 goal, above and beyond! You can learn more about this project at the TAB “Poem Booth”


This year was not too productive for poetry or projects, but the ones I was involved with were stimulating.  One item that hampered much artist work was a temporary job in aerospace for nine months.  Working 40-50 hour weeks on the night shift puts a big dent in the social life.  I expect to work many long hours again in 2017 to stabilize my finances and rebuild what was lost over the last year and a half.  I had to stop working on my transfer degree, sell my car, and borrow from Peter to pay Paul.  Where’s my Trump Money? –don’t worry, I won’t hold my breath.

2016 was such a burnout.  I still have hope, hope and a sense of humor, toss in a good red from Spain and NOW we got something.  However, I am determined to be more flamboyant than ever with my projects, radio show, book release and poetry readings going forward.  I’m marching and making signs for the Woman March on Bellingham in January 2017, joining millions of others across the nation, marching for equal rights and justice for ALL.  What the hell can I do besides that?  I’m so frustrated.  We need art and voice now more than ever!

Thank you for supporting the arts, being artistic, standing up for what you believe in, encouraging others, inspiring who you can, those people in your circle of influence, your home, your neighborhood, your city.

Best wishes to you and yours this holiday and a Happy New Year.

2016-letter

 

Christmas Card 2014

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Holiday Happy Dance

Merry Christmas from the

S.P. Laws staff!

-Shannon, Brad, Vin, Robert, and Byung-hun

Click HERE to view our holiday card in Super-High-Speed Definition™

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So, how was your 2014?  What a mixed bad of nuts, right.  

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A large group of protesters stage a “die-in” on the street in response Monday in Seattle to the Ferguson grand jury decision not to indict Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown. Photo: JORDAN STEAD, SEATTLEPI.COM


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:

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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.

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me, Laurel Leigh, Susan Chase-Foster, 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.

book reading VB april 5

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.

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“Odd Little Things” June 2014

 “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.”

Available at Village Books, in store and online at this link: Odd Little Things VB

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

RADIO

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.

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Sunday afternoon editing session for The New Americana Hour

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.

To learn more about this pioneering Bellingham program please visit the shows re-broadcasting site on wordpress: http://newamericanahour.wordpress.com/

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.

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September Poetry Host Book Launch Bellingham WA
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September Tagore Festival Richmond, B.C.

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.

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September World Peace Poet Event Bellingham, WA poster by Shannon Laws

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.

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Peace Sisters: C.J. Prince, me, Carla Shafer planning the 2014 Poets for Peace event.

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!

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Kevin Murphy, C.J. Prince, Joe Nolting, me, and Mathew Brouwer

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

Thank you for joining me in my life of writing.

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Little room, little desk. Where I type, write and dream. Dream to think ratio 5:3

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