With four published books of poetry and her work appearing in dozens of publications, Shawn Aveningo is an accomplished and prolific poet.
In addition to her written work, Shawn hosts a bi-monthly poetry show in Folsom, Verse on the Vine, and performs at various readings and open mics in Sacramento and beyond.
Starting on the poetic path
Even though she was “one of those rare students that actually enjoyed poetry in high school,” Shawn didn’t really get into poetry until after college, career, and raising children when, about seven years ago, she attended a poetry reading in Southern California.
She says, “I fell in love with the honesty emoted from the stage and the way these artists filled a canvas with the imagery of their words. I started buying poetry books from famous, as well as local, lesser known poets…their poems were fresh, uncomplicated, and full of human emotion. I felt a deep connection and knew I wanted to start writing again, after decades of not picking up a pen.”
While she does not have a formal education in poetry (her degree is in business and computer science), Shawn does have a lifetime of experiences to draw from and has found the key to getting into poetry was, simply, to write. “I started writing like crazy,” she says, “Some of it good, most of it awful. But I worked not to censor myself, and just let the words flow.”
Shawn has kept with this work ethic and, she says, “On average I write at least one new poem a week, on whatever topic moves me in the moment…Sometimes I have a clear vision for a poem, and other times I’m completely surprised at the outcome, letting my fingertips take a joyride on the keyboard.”
After getting back into the poetry groove, Shawn launched a couple projects that she keeps up with to this day.
In 2011, Shawn, along with her partner Robert Sanders, founded The Poetry Box. Through The Poetry Box people can request personalized poetry for any occasion. Once completed, the poem is interwoven with a collage of personal photographs or images to go along with the poem. When printed and framed, the end result is an heirloom quality, unique gift (see example at right).
In addition to custom poetic art, The Poetry Box also offers a line of fine art prints, pre-designed poetic art (with personalization option), and Shawn and Robert will be unveiling a new line of greeting cards, along with a brand new website, in May.
When she noticed there were not many options for poetry in the suburbs, Shawn took matters into her own hands. She partnered with Yvonne Norgauer of Petra Vineyard Wine Gallery and began presenting Verse on the Vine, a regularly scheduled poetry series in Folsom with featured poets and an open mic segment.
The series has really started to catch on, with standing room only at their February show. (Don’t miss the April show!)
Shawn’s strives to have her writing be accessible and relatable. “Poetry has a bit of a reputation for being elitist or too academic, stuffy, boring,” she says. “I want to show people that it can be fun, entertaining, sexy.”
Read some of Shawn’s poems and see what you think:
A huge believer in giving back to the community, for the past 18 years Shawn has been involved in a variety of charities and school events. In 2009 she donated a kidney to her father which inspired a book of poems, And Life Goes On (pictured at right), chronicling the emotional journey. Proceeds from sales of the book go to the National Kidney Foundation.
Shawn and her partner Robert also donate custom artworks and poetry pieces to auctions for local Sacramento charities, including Any Given Child, Susan G Komen Foundation, Vox Sacramento, and To Write Love On Her Arms. They both look forward to getting more involved in the local art scene and a variety of deserving causes in the near future.
Catch Shawn live
April is National Poetry Month and Shawn is busy as ever. Here’s where you can see her:
Never been to a poetry reading? Here’s an idea of what it’s like:
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Keep up with Shawn:
Photos by: Robert R Sanders