Meet Our New Intern: Brooke Shannon

My favorite area of my childhood home was the makeshift library. Almost completely filled to its glass door were stories of Black female writers’ nonconformist protagonists and my mother’s diaries. I read my mother’s narratives religiously as a child. Quickly adopting her literary habits, I walked around with paper and pencil in hand. Heavy footed with an occasional thumb in mouth, writing became a part of my identity early on.

My childhood was traumatic. But, it was in my mother’s stories that I found solace. I remember reading a poem she’d written about her travels in Europe. She wrote of the diversified pool of people she’d witnessed on a London tube ride: “A young pregnant girl sits by me. / She’s thankful for the seat. / She speaks Spanish to her companion. / What’s her story? / I’ll never know.” Through my mothers’ eyes, I recognized the importance of story-telling. I started to understand the beautiful medium writing created in being able to tell those stories. This quickly became a shared perspective between my mother and I.

Still, however, I never acknowledged writing as a true passion until late college. Writing had always been my private form of survival. I entered college with a naive level of confidence that I’d major in Psychology and become a counseling psychologist. I was going to help others heal from the traumatic parts of their stories. But, it was in my immature nature that I believed those traumatic parts were to be erased. I wasn’t supposed to identify with the ugly parts, I thought. To some degree, that still remains true. I choose not to be defined by my past; however, in my effort to erase the ugly parts of others’ stories, I was applying that ideology to my own. I hadn’t yet understood the power that comes with retelling all parts of my narrative, truly confronting myself.

It was through writing that I engaged in new levels of honesty. Writing helped me explore and encounter the realities of my world as well as imagine others; and in the booth of a local Denny’s, I experienced deep clarity as I realized I needed to switch my major. So, I did. I declared Writing as my major at Grand Valley State University and have been pursuing a BA. Since then, I’ve committed to the particularity of my story and opened myself up to transparent and true writing.

Through my own story-telling, I’ve dreamt of giving others the same opportunity. This is why I’m grateful to be working for Sundress Publications. Sundress provides pathways for people to write honestly and deeply encourages literary engagement that details all parts of all narratives, giving both readers and authors a medium that recognizes the specificity of their experiences. Maybe through this experience will I discover the stories my mother left for me to uncover.

Brooke Shannon is a published poet, speaker, and aspiring author. She attends Grand Valley State University for a Writing Major and Minor in African/African American Studies and Psychology. Her work has appeared in Display Magazine (Issue 111), In the Limelight with Clarissa (Fall 2021), and the 4th edition of Joining the Conversation


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