memorial for a brilliant woman

Monday, May 12, 2014

Great Thanks

Thank you all for your continuing support! The concert yesterday was beautiful and had great attendance! The best thing someone whispered to me was "it would've been better organized if your mom was here"

For you writers still following, there's a great opportunity happening this summer-
My mother loved going to this workshop and always came home with more books than she wanted to carry up and down the hill of a town not far away from my father's hometown- Masontown. They clearly loved her too...
So thank you, WVW for honoring my mother. She was so happy to be a part of the workshop for many years, and I can see that that happiness was requited. Have a wonderful time, and I hope everyone is happy and healthy- and not TOO sweaty up there. The below text is from an email sent to me.

The warmer temperatures mean that the West Virginia Writers’ Workshop is soon approaching. The deadline to participate in full workshop is June 2nd:

[WVWW] is working on a several ways to honor our friend Shann Palmer. Many of you emailed me after my last update, and I appreciated hearing from you. Among the special events is one proposed to us by some of Shann’s workshop friends, and I’m excited to share with you some ways you can choose to be involved.

The idea is to raise money for a WVWW scholarship for the next year’s event in Shann Palmer’s name, which we thought was a tremendous way to honor her. Several faculty will be donating books to be raffled off during Saturday’s dinner/open mic. As well, any participants who would like to donate books to include in the raffle—whether they are authored by you, or are a favorite by another you would like to share with others—we would love to include anyone’s contribution. This is, of course, completely voluntary, and, again, the idea came to us by Shann’s friends and we just thought it was so in her spirit of literary community that we wanted to invite anyone to be involved that wanted to be a part of it. Of course, you can also be involved by buying raffle tickets when you are at the workshop this year. All the money will go to this scholarship.

If you would like to contribute books, please send me a email at This will allow me to organize things. We have other ways we will remember and celebrate Shann Palmer as well.

Sunday, April 20, 2014


The Virginia Benefit Chorale, in cooperation with Grace Episcopal Church, Goochland, is giving a community concert to honor the life and works of Shann Palmer, poet and author of books, who was Sharon Radabaugh in most other walks of life. Sharon was a soprano in the Virginia Benefit Chorale, and was the organist and Choirmaster at Grace Episcopal Church.
The concert featuring Chorus and Orchestra, 
conducted by Steve Davis, will be on Mothers Day, May 11, at 4:00 pm. there is no charge but donations are needed to defray the costs of the concert. Make checks payable: see below.
If you are a singer, we need you in the chorus. (no audition) The rehearsal schedule is below.
The Chorus will be joined by Orchestra

The program will include:
The Gloria,    Antonio Vivaldi
 Ave Verum,    W. A. Mozart
Laudate Dominum,  W. A. Mozart
Rejoice in the Lord, Henry Purcell

Checks should be payable to the Virginia Benefit Chorale, and put in the offering.
Or you can mail checks to:
11130 Sterling Cove Drive
Chesterfield, VA   23838-5158
If you would like your name in the program
please email the director at:

The rehearsal schedule:
3 Fridays: Apr25, May2, May9  Time 6:30-9:00
3 Saturdays: Apr26, May3, May10
Times on Sat AM: 9:30-12:00 Lunch Break
Times on Sat PM: 2:00-4:00

All rehearsals and the performance at:
Grace Episcopal Church
2955 River Road
Goochland, VA

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Mark your calendars!

The Virginia Benefit Chorale will be performing a community concert on May 11th at 4pm to honor the life and works of Shann Palmer.

The performance will be held at Grace Episcopal Church: 2955 River road, Goochland, Virginia. There is no cover charge, but donations are very welcome.

If you would like to participate, donate, or have any questions, don't hesitate to email the director Steve Davis at

They are always looking for more singers!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Always Hungry

Hi folks,

I posted this picture on Shann's facebook yesterday.
I remember her stories about being terribly poor as a kid- her father calling the kids to scrounge the 7-11 parking lot to gather lost change. There was a great time when she went out to some restaurant with her ex-husband and others and ordered goulash, which she assumed was her father's amalgamation of macaroni, hot dogs, and ketchup... whatever was in the fridge, and was very surprised with what she got.
When she was in college, she told me tacos were (maybe?) twelve cents and she would keep those on the radiator and almost only go on dates for free dinners. It's also where she started being a professional cleaner. She really was a very poor, very hungry girl.

When I was a kid (like out of a Joni Mitchell song- all are fat and none are thin) we would once in a while drive to Costco and get one of those gallons of tiny frozen creampuffs, wait 'til they weren't rock hard and eat them. She told my pseudo boyfriend that I started the tradition, but my story is different. Of course I don't think I've had one in twelve years or so, and really haven't been a fan of desserts aside from a taste of her Costco berry sundae. We usually went together.

And when I pick up my no-refill prescription for pain meds, the pharmacist tells me I look like her.
Every single day that we live is a new war. It can be bad or good, but you have to live through it to know which one it is. Most of us are scared shitless, but it happens, it all happens.

Thursday, January 09, 2014


Hello folks,

Change is temporarily out of stock. We plan to at least restock, but we're hoping to go bigger in 2014.

To those who have not yet received your orders, they will be sent out today.  Thank you for bearing with me!

I'm still finding chapbooks scattered all over... some without covers.

The Poems in a Bag series is in abundance, in the meantime.

Finally, to tide you all over:
here's a digital copy of her chapbook "Skip Tracing Angels" or "Uttering and Publishing" hosted by the Dead Mule School of Southern Literature.

Sunday, January 05, 2014


(read during her service today, 01/05/2014)

I know to some it might be a bit crass to say this, but I think if this sudden and tragic turn of events could have a headline attached, Poet Crushed by Two Tons of Irony would work. Between the near take-off of her American Housewife Haiku, an optimistic prognosis leading us to believe here is the last place we would end up, and then a possible near-miss turned into a total disaster just before Christmas, it sounds about right. Now, to describe it that way sounds terrible, but If I know my mother, and I sure hope I do, I can see her laughing at the sheer perfection of absurdity in this, like Much Ado About Nothing adapted by Frank Zappa and directed by David Lynch albeit with fewer dwarves speaking in reverse. As a family, we always did enjoy a good, dark comedy, though it’s challenging from time to time when you discover you live in one.

Ultimately, everyone here has a different experience of Shann Palmer or Sharon Radabaugh, as some know her as one or the other and still to others, she’s both. To me, mother, savior, friend, mentor, ringleader--a veritable Voltron for you millennials in the crowd, manned by Glinda the Good Witch, John Connor, Samwise Gamgee, Yoda, and maybe Vito Corleone in the left foot. To others, the metaphor might be even more complicated. But one viewpoint I know we all share in knowing her is her sense of humor and the bright, brilliant light she brought to the world around her. Although she’s not physically sitting here with us right now, I can feel that each and every one of us carries within a sliver of her goodness and positivity just from having known her in this all too often dark and tumultuous world.

And speaking of goodness and positivity, though this might have the backdrop of a dreary day in the Great Gray Beast of January in Virginia at a somber moment of reflection with some songs of lament no doubt thrown in at the reception--and trust me, I’ll be singing one, myself--I can see her over next to the organ saying "are you guys kidding me?" Because despite her leaving she would not want any of us to sit in solemn silence or dwell or pontificate "what-ifs" and how the people of Earth-225 must surely be faring better. She craved and had a zest for life greater than anyone I’ve ever known outside of fiction, and a gratitude for the time she had and the family and friends she cherished above all. So, if we all can take that sliver of her essence and carry it forward into the world and spread love and gratitude and good humor for the rest of our lives, we will never have lost her, because she’ll always be here. But for today, laugh and remember her as the sharp, witty, wonderful woman you knew, and tell her story and sing her songs. And if you must cry, cry for joy that you were one of the fortunate souls to cross her path in this wide world of ours, for the only ones who suffer today are those who never knew her.


Charlie Palmer a.k.a. Paul Radabaugh 1/05/2014

Friday, January 03, 2014

Memorial Reminder/ History Illuminated

A reminder to all those who wish to know- Shann's memorial service will be held at Grace Episcopal Church in Goochland, VA on Sunday at 2pm. It will be followed by a potluck reception and entertainment, including a short Broadway singalong (as she used to do in times passed in several places).

Today, January 4th, would be her 64th birthday. She died a day before her mother, 28 years later. Until Mark Zuckerberg became a mogul, her side of the family only existed in her stories. People suddenly come up, like questions you meant to ask or convenient things to get out of awkward dates. Sifting through her 20+ years of scribbled-on notebooks, printed out drafts, I feel blessed. She left me (an undeniable burden) her greatest gift. There are facts that I've forgotten that I search and search for, only for them to take their time to come out, like a bit of corn in between teeth. That's almost a simile for going through her huge stacks of work.
Here's something that probably isn't the most recent draft, but it's refreshing in my search for lost lineage.

She must have written this in 2010 or thereabouts.

History Illuminated

Mamma played trumpet, Mamaw sewed
costumes for the Houston opera, Margaret
was a secretary at Esso, Wynter Grace wrapped
packages at Neiman-Marcus every Christmas
and Genelle was the favorite until she moved
all the way to the arctic circle to save heathens.

Uncle Howard was wealthy, had an ex-wife, a son
dead from polio, saved even though he was a Jew
and divorced but we didn't talk about that, not ever.
It was enough he loved Wynter, called her be'be'.
Sent her carnations big as pie plates every birthday,
took care of all of us, had a drawer full of surprises:

chattering teeth, a Ginny doll. He'd cuddle me up
at the lake house early mornings, loved me best
over all the other nieces and nephews, I was good,
knew how to be quiet and learn, try new things.
He hated my daddy, bought all my school clothes
kept everybody straight, smoked Cuban cigars.

Uncle Lew pinched my legs, said I was 'spoilt'
looked me in the eye and saw the devil, twice,
saw the devil, twice, died on Christmas Eve
a few years ago, now Aunt Genelle goes to Branson
for the nativity play with stars as old as she is,
doesn't so much as send a card or phone anybody.

Even after twenty-five years gone I talk to Mamma,
every day, she finally killed herself with cancer,
sat up straight in a chair her last day, they told me
she did, bargaining. I believe it because I would too,
looking out the window, waiting for Prince Charming
or Jesus to actually show up as the sun set.

Then there was Nanny (Ila Faye) with Ruby, Falvey,
Virgil and a lot of others in nameless pictures.
The night she died I stood out on the landing
at the Barn Dinner Theater and saw a shooting star.
I played Lady Brockhurst for three long months
only to find fifteen dollars a show wasn't enough.

When I left Texas, I left everything I ever knew
in the front hall laying on the faux-marble floor,
moved to Arizona to change the world, change.

It's too hard to rout out what might have been
under different circumstances, before it all went bad,
pieces ease together as if the edges were worn
smooth like Aunt Ola's butter churned to gold,
making mad money to put by for a hat, or red shoes.

For those who cannot attend but wish to honor her, you can send donations to the paypal on the sidebar, or send some love to a charity of your choosing. Also, although there is currently a limited amount, I am still selling the two older poetry offerings on the sidebar. You could also spend no money and just keep writing, because I'm pretty sure she would be happy in any case.