During the spring of the 2012-2013 school year, Nina Fox, then a second-year student, walked into an empty Is the Word event. Or … nearly empty. Leaning against the opposing wall in the dusky, mood lighting of Newcomer 19, Hayley Brooks, the club’s co-founder, sat twiddling her thumbs.

No one had shown up.

Fox laughed aloud at the absurdity of the empty room and joined Brooks, where, waiting dubiously for others to join, the two laid out blankets on the floor and ate too many clementines. A half hour later, two students showed up, smuggling in candy from another campus event. An hour later, some 15 students had joined the motley crew, and for the next hour, the group read and shared poetry. Some students shared their own poetry, some found poems in books laid out on the blankets, some looked up favorite Shel Silverstein rhymes from childhood. Regardless of whether or not they shared, however, all students shared in the eclectic camaraderie of the moment.

Is the Word, a club that was formed to create a unique venue for the sharing of poetry, was founded by Brooks and Kate Stoltzfus during the 2012-2013 school year. The purpose of the club, said Brooks, is to create “a space for people to share their poetry and creative writing.”

An outlet for budding writers, the club is an informal way to gather and share. In the past, students have read original poetry and have also read the work of published poets.

While the club met bi-monthly last year, this year has brought some changes. Rather than hosting smaller, more periodic events, Is the Word is hosting a larger semester event. The fall semester event is an open mic and slam, which will be held at 8 p.m. Sunday in Newcomer 19.

According to Brooks, the open mic will preface the slam. There are five spots for students to share during the open mic, and students are encouraged to read both original and unoriginal works. After a short break, the slam will follow, with an anticipated eight slammers. Comprised of two rounds, the slam will begin with eight slammers and will allow only three to advance to the second round. The evaluative panel will consist of three to five judges and the poems/performances will be judged on a 10-point scale. Each poem is limited to three-minutes.

Said Brooks, “Slams are always really fun for me, they’re rowdy, they’re a place where people are intentionally gathering to hear stories … I think spaces like that are really necessary, they have a lot of power.”

To participate in the open mic, in the slam, or as a judge, contact Brooks at hjbrooks@goshen.edu.