Is Niceville a literary Murano?

Niceville glass bookCould Niceville be a literary Murano?

Most people know that Murano is a Venetian island known for its glass artistry. Fewer know why and how the glassblowers of Murano became renowned worldwide for their skills.

It began out of practicality. Back in the 8th century, Venice was a major commercial port and the people of Venice were able to import skills from visitors. One of these skills was glassblowing.

Unfortunately, at the time Venice also consisted of mainly wooden buildings. An unhappy side effect of the beautiful new glassware being produced was that the glassmaker’s furnaces sometimes burnt down the neighborhood.

In an effort to preserve Venice, lawmakers ordered all glassmakers to relocate to the nearby island of Murano. By the end of the 16th century, approximately half of the island’s inhabitants were directly involved in the glassmaking industry.

This high concentration of glass artisans in one community proved beneficial. Those that could eat, sleep and live their craft became immersed. They freely conversed and shared their techniques, creating better artists. Building upon their shared experience, the artisans of Murano took their craft ahead of the rest of the world in developmental leaps.

I see a similar community of literary artisans growing in Niceville. While we haven’t been banished to an island (even though we might wish to be) we have formed a concentration of word artists in the area.

At present, there is a creative venue to show off your words nearly once a week. The local media has been supporting the movement along with the libraries. A strongly literate area, we have at least four libraries within a 20 minute drive, quite a few independent bookstores, a few chain bookstores and some free community book boxes.

Will future generations look back to our Panhandle area and cite it as being the birthplace of a new wave of word play? We have what we need—media and community support and a strong network of cooperative individuals sharing knowledge.

See for yourself by visiting some of the local word artist events. You can always find updated community events, literary and otherwise, on the calendar page at the Panhandle Focus website. You can also find the Panhandle Focus on Facebook. Another page to watch for community events is Artsy Fartsy on Facebook.

Here’s a few of my favorites:

  • Say the Word Poetry Open Mic meets every first Wednesday at French Quarter Bar & Grill, 714 Howell Rd., Niceville beginning at 7 p.m.
  • Author’s Mingle, a networking group, meets every first Saturday at Cafe Bienville, 314 Bayshore Dr, Niceville beginning at noon.
  • Poetry Bistro will be March 5 at The Event Room, 1825 Hurlburt Rd #11, Fort Walton Beach beginning at 7 p.m.
  • TV Dinner Theater meets every first Friday at Cafe Bienville, 314 Bayshore Dr, Niceville beginning at 6 p.m. Please arrive at 5 if planning to order food.
  • Poetry and Music Jam meets every second Tuesday at Crestview Public Library, 1445 Commerce Drive, Crestview beginning at 6 p.m.
  • Stone Soup Open Mic meets every third Thursday at LJ Schooner’s, 300 Yacht Club Dr, Niceville beginning at 7 p.m.
  • Writers Support Group meets every fourth Monday of the month at Crestview Public Library, 1445 Commerce Drive, Crestview beginning at 6 p.m.

About Angela Yuriko Smith

Angela Yuriko Smith is an American poet, publisher and author. Her first collection of poetry, In Favor of Pain, was nominated for an 2017 Elgin Award. Her latest novella, Bitter Suites, is a 2018 Bram Stoker Awards® Finalist. Currently, she publishes Space and Time magazine, a 53 year old publication dedicated to fantasy, horror and science fiction. For more information visit or
This entry was posted in Panhandle Focus, Writing Life. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *