Sarasota Storytellers Unite
Local storytellers and fans of the craft assembled to read and show their support at the Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center last night for the Sarasota debut of literary arts organization Wordier Than Thou. The Pinellas County-based group, created and organized by writer Tiffany Razzano, organizes community open mic events dedicated to storytelling, an oddity in the world of open mics where poetry and music dominate, in an effort to build writing communities and inspire fellow writers to work and then share that work.
“It’s about creating this community. You’re going to be more successful with the community around you and supporting what you do,” said Razzano. “You don’t live in a vacuum. You need to have that audience to get the feedback, and these are the people who are going to come out and buy your book.”
Founded two years ago in St. Petersburg, Wordier Than Thou’s shows quickly spread via word of mouth, gaining popularity through St. Pete and spreading to Tampa. Now, Razzano hopes to achieve equal success in Sarasota.
A distinguishing feature of Rozzano’s organization is the ability to draw featured speakers, accomplished regional authors, to headline the events, sharing short stories, writerly wisdom and even excerpts from works in progress. Last night was no different, with Elizabeth Sims, author of the Lillian Byrd detective series, opening with the first chapter of her forthcoming Byrd novel Left Field. Later, Lynn Waddell, author of Fringe Florida: Travels among Mud Boggers, Furries, Ufologists, Nudists and Other Lovers of Unconventional Lifestyles, read from her humorous take on Florida’s overflowing well of weird.
“It’s community. It’s inspiring to go to a reading and to be around other people writing. Sometimes it kind of shames me into writing,” said Waddell with a laugh. “It’s important to be a part of Wordier Than Thou and support the cause of writers who are willing to read and engage people.”
Both authors stayed to mingle with Sarasota’s fans and aspiring storytellers, sharing tips, signing autographs and selling their work.
The turnout, roughly 40 people, mostly women, with ages ranging from the college writer to the been-around bard, was impressive for a debut event, but Razzano knows it will only grow with time, as words goes round just like it did in St. Pete and the community expands.
“We’ve grown so much and I want to give this a chance to grow,” said Razzano of Wordier’s Sarasota expansion. “Narratives are really important and the art of storytelling is something that’s coming back.”
In case you missed last night’s show, Wordier Than Thou currently has plans for the next Sarasota event come November and following every other month.