By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Jul 27, 2021 at 1:01 PM

Black Is Beautiful is a series of interviews with interesting, intelligent and immersed-in-their-passion local African American women.

Shandle Chapman, a longtime Milwaukee who now resides in Florida, began writing when she was 14 years old to process and address strong feelings. Her first poem was about a young man – a crush – who was in a car accident and later passed away from the injuries.

"I wrote my first poem in Milwaukee long ago and to this day writing is my release and my way of expressing how I feel. It’s very therapeutic,” says Chapman.

In 2018, Chapman released a book of poetry called "Muddy Wings." Recently, she wrote a second book, “The Smile Inside of You,”  an interactive workbook for parents and children.

Chapman returns to Milwaukee for a book signing at Daddy's Soul Food, 754 N. 27th St., on Saturday, Aug. 14 at 1 p.m.

Chapman was born in Laurel, Mississippi and raised in Milwaukee. She gradated from Riverside University High School in 1999 and studied at Alverno College before moving to South Florida.

During her studies, she was deeply inspired by numerous female writers, including Maya Angelou and Nikki Giovanni.

"I have always used writing as a way to heal," says Chapman. "My intention is to help others heal as well.”

OnMilwaukee: The last time we spoke was 2018 and you were living in Florida and working as a writer and medical professional. Can you get us up to date on your life?

Shandle Chapman: Since the last time we spoke so much has happened. I still reside in West Palm Beach, FL working as a writer and medical professional. Additionally, I'm the owner of a beauty spa, Phenomenal Aesthetics, where I provide a variety of beauty services ranging from facials to eyelash extensions.

Due to Covid-19 I started hosting virtual book signings, and having a virtual “Weekly Word” session on my Shandle Writes Facebook page. I wanted to try something new to keep people engaged and encouraged since Covid has also taken a toll on the mental health of several people.

Can you share a little more about your “Weekly Word” sessions?

The purpose of the "Weekly Word" sessions are to help people see beyond the surface of a different word each week and how their words impact their lives or how the words have been a challenge in their lives. The next session runs from October to November on my Shandle Writes page. 

So tell us about your new book.

I created another book called “The Smile Inside of You.” It's an interactive parent/child workbook which encourages children to use their voice. It also encourages parents to listen and it helps parents identify underlying issues that could be affecting their child's behavior.

You are a mother to two boys, right?

Yes. Both of my boys graduated high school and are attending college in other states which gives me the opportunity to travel more often. I recently turned 40 years old and it feels great to be alive, well and reaching my goals.

How was your life and work affected by COVID-19?

Covid truly took us all by surprise. It not only affected my health, it also affected my finances. When I became sick with Covid I received prompt medical attention. Thankfully I was able to overcome the virus. I'm vaccinated now, but I still wear my mask for the additional protection especially now since I own a spa.

Shortly after starting my small spa business Covid hit so I wasn't able to accept clients which was a challenge but I got through it and it's going great now. 

You grew up in Milwaukee and return here often. What are some of your best Milwaukee memories?

I have so many memories of Milwaukee growing up as a child and my fondest memories were from school and my neighborhood friends – many of whom I'm still friends with now. Although Florida is filled with unique cuisines, I have a few restaurants that are a must to visit when I come to Milwaukee. Cousins is one of them. I grew up eating their sandwiches.

I'm also excited to try the food at Daddy’s Soul Food during my book signing. I have to thank the wonderful staff who helped me organize this upcoming event. 

How has Milwaukee changed from your perspective?

Being that I was raised in Milwaukee, I have seen several changes take place. Mostly changes that have helped improve the city and changes that encourage and support entrepreneurship in our communities. Sherman Phoenix is one of the changes that has empowered our communities.

I would love to see more buildings in the inner city communities dedicated to building and growing small businesses in the same manner. I would also like to see something dedicated to our youth who want to become entrepreneurs and possibly an establishment that will bring light to mental health as it pertains to our communities. 

Milwaukee is very special to me and will always be a part of who I am.

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.