Laws of the Land
Writing what she knows
WHAT: Shannon P. Laws joins Chuckanut Sandstone Writers Theatre’s Carla Shafer and poetrynight board member and Sue C. Boynton Walk award-winner Erica Reed to read from Odd Little Things
WHEN: 4pm Sat., Sept. 6
WHERE: Village Books, 1200 11th St.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
With sparkling brown eyes and bouncing curls, Shannon P. Laws is a familiar face at Bellingham’s open mics—and at the Village Books Poetry Group, which she facilitates. Her second chapbook of poetry was recently published.
“Odd Little Things was released in June,” Laws says. “The title came to me one day at my desk, while I was thinking about the collection of poetry assembled. The title reinforces my belief that it is the little things in life that fill up the gaps between big moments; they are life essential. Little things, small moments, are the reactions to action happening all around us, within and outside our circle of influence.
“Poems approach me,” she adds. “I’ll see the music in a scene and, sometimes, hear the poem forming. The subject is usually an emotion being played out directly or indirectly. Prompts are a good exercise. Some good poems come out of prompts, but I prefer poems that are born.”
A poet searches for a unique point of view, and Laws wants that view to take the reader to a deeper level. “I particularly love raw emotion, the primal stuff, no fluff,” she says. “Fluff is superficial crap we learn through modern living. Not that I won’t enjoy a lighthearted poem now and then, but the stuff that’s hidden is more interesting to chew on. “
A writer is only as good as what she reads. “Mary Oliver and T.S. Elliot are the freshmen poets that initially got my attention,” Laws says. “I like how simple their poems are. I don’t walk away scratching my head wondering what their words mean, and yet their poems may have many different meanings layered within those lines.”
Laws comes to poetry from an intuitive place, noting “I am self-educated in the area of writing; no formal education. I write in my mind’s voice, and search for the song in a sentence. While living on San Juan Island, isolation crept in. I reached out to public groups offered by the library. After attending a day class taught by Susan Wingate, I caught the writing bug. Soon, I started to attend a writer open mic at a local coffee shop-and so my adventure began.
“In addition to poetry I write short stories, literary fiction, sci-fi and I blog when I get the fever to do so. Poetry is like a quick fix. It is a small project compared to a novel. I like the feeling of completion, of accomplishment that a finished poem can give me.”
Laws has three words for aspiring writers: “Write. Write. Write. Write what you know. Write what hurts. Write your dreams. Befriend other writers, mostly for company with others that understand your affliction to write. And don’t turn into a literature snob. Snobs have closed minds, and don’t want to get dirty. Get down in the dirt; don’t put your gift in a box,” she emphasizes.
Laws’ writing is not restricted to poetry. “Right now I am editing an old story I found in my files called ‘Abigail.’ It is a sci-fi set in the far future involving the disintegration of human DNA due to repetitive manipulation. A secret search is conducted to find a ‘pure strand’ to save humanity’s future. Abigail, an ancient Scandinavian scientist, who was cryogenically frozen against her will, holds the key in her blood. As you can imagine, everyone wants a piece of her (pun intended). It’s about playing God, obsession, our survival instincts, and underestimating the power of nature. You know that ol’ chestnut.”