Say the Word, a once a month poetry jam session, is celebrating two years today under the dedicated guidance of Sarah Clauson.
Sarah has been a tireless promotor of the diverse group of poets, prosaists and partners that meet at 7 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month at Michael Alan’s French Quarter Grill & Bar in Niceville.
Anyone is welcome to take the mic at Say the Word, and poets are encouraged to read 2-3 short pieces or 1-2 long pieces. Prosaists are welcome to read their work as well with the ideal time being 5 minutes or less per reading. There are usually a lot of names signed up and waiting to read.
No one is judged. The eclectic crowd is warm and welcoming. Anyone brave enough to take the mic is celebrated for breaking out of their rut and sharing their written words. People read from their phones, tablets, printed paper and scribbled napkins. It doesn’t matter where the words originate—people read their own work as well as others.
On a personal note, Say the Word has been a huge benefit to me as a writer. Standing up and doing public readings helped me tamp down on nervousness in front of crowds and come out of my shell to own my work rather then be timid about it.
I’m not a big poet, but listening to others improved my own craft, not only as a poet, but for all my writing. Because of Say the Word I may have just sold a poem that I wouldn’t have bothered writing otherwise. Because I read from End of Mae at a jam a few months ago, I stumbled across some amazing people who have helped me be a better writer with critiques and suggestions (and they are just wonderful friends besides!)
Behind all this literal goodness is Sarah. Ever encouraging and perpetually positive—the faithful cheerleader that shows up with her sound equipment once a month and makes all this possible. She’s been at this for two years now, doing more to promote literacy and art than a many a school, library and bookmobile.
Sarah brings a deep passion to the jam, a genuine affection for inflection and an enthusiasm that has turned many a shy wall flower into a poetical powerhouse. Thank you Sarah, from all your fans now, in the future and from the past. You are appreciated!