Word is Born

JMU's Word is Born Writer's Society has close ties to the Furious Flower Poetry Center.

When people with a passion for creative writing come together, so much more than stories are told — their spoken word becomes art. 

Word is Born Writers’ Society is a club that stems from the Furious Flower Poetry Center. Starting as a social club for English majors, the club has evolved into a community where JMU students of all majors, backgrounds and ethnicities can express themselves freely through poetry and spoken word. 

“We don’t normally have a chance to write things for class that we want to write,” Ryland Jones, a sophomore English and psychology double major, said. “By having [Word is Born Writer’s Society] we’re all kind of allowed to just come together and write whatever we want.”

Word is Born puts the students first and as their co-president, Chase Collins, a senior integrated science and technology major, explains it gives power to the people through poetry.  

“It really is a writer’s society,” Charles Smith, a sophomore theatre and media arts and design double major and co-president of the group, said. “This is a group of people who do actually like writing, who have critiques based on their experiences and who aren’t afraid to tell you exactly what you need to hear.”

The society typically meets once a week and sticks with a four-week rotation of what they discuss in meetings. Each week could include different topics or genres, but typically consists of free write nights, prompt nights, share nights and workshops. 

During prompt nights, members are asked to create a story from a certain idea. A prompt such as, “What can scare a monster?” can provide inspiration for a poem that a writer may never have thought of before. Share nights give members a chance to present what they’ve written in front of the entire group. Although they vary, workshops could be on writing pieces or actually performing them. 

“It’s not just about the writing, there’s a performance aspect as well to these poems and creative works,” Collins said. “We try to encourage at least once a month for our members to get up and speak these words that they are writing down.”

Word is Born always provides members with helpful feedback on how to improve their writings or spoken word for a broader audience. 

“I never had friends that wrote,” Jones said. “So now that I have more people to give me feedback on [my work], they have gotten progressively more nuanced.”

The club reinforces positivity regularly in their group. Word is Born prides itself on being a non-judgmental, open and safe environment for anyone to get involved. They start their meetings by discussing any good news that’s happened in the world and have what they call a “no disclaimers policy.”

“You’re not allowed to apologize for your work,” Smith said. “We want you to be proud of it ... not feel guilty or bad about writing about it. You have that right as a person, you don’t have to apologize.” 

On Feb. 15, Word is Born will be presenting its third annual Love Me, Love Me Not Poetry Jam from 7-9 p.m. in Taylor Down Under. In honor of Valentine’s Day, writers will be performing work that’s focused on love, heartbreak and everything in between.

Contact Leeyah Jackson at jacksold@dukes.jmu.edu. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.