“Word Salad:” a literary open mic night

June Melby reads her short narrative at

Photo courtesy of decorahnews.com

June Melby reads her short narrative at “Word Salad”

On the third Wednesday of every month, “Word Salad,” host and founder June Melby gives professional and amateur writers a space to share their work with other lovers of literature. This month, “Word Salad” was held on Feb. 19 at 7p.m in the Courtyard and Cellar in downtown Decorah.

The theme for the show was “Hurry Up.” Melby says February weather invokes a sense of urgency to enter spring. Participants who followed the theme were rewarded with chocolate. The decision was made based on a unanimous yes or no from the audience.

Melby began the show by reading a couple of her short stories. The first piece was about her mother’s fern which she compared to the size of a small car. Her the second personified a tree detailing her struggles to fit in with human.

After Melby spoke, the floor was opened to others to read their work and a few Luther students took to the stage to share. Aaron Marx (‘21) enjoys sharing his work at “Word Salad” and wants to continue to particpate in the future.

“Last year over J-term I took creative writing and poetry, and towards the end of our poetry unit, the first “Word Salad” happened,” Marx said. “I really enjoyed reading what I had written for the class. I saw it as a good way to start writing more and also having an outlet to present it and hearing other people’s stuff as well

Other participants shared pieces inspired by personal experiences. Kat Hoffman (‘20) wrote a poem about her J-term trip to Costa Rica which was about imagining an embodiement adventure. The poem featured Hoffman’s experience with running.

“A lot of what the trip was about was making your own practice for your well being,” Hoffman said. “My poem was about me running in the jungle and how it was freeing.”

Members of the Decorah community also shared their work. Jimmy Sidebottom read a poem about eggs and his dislike for them. Another participant read a poem about his time in the computer lab at the University of Iowa and the irritation of hearing all the sounds of people’s devices as they worked. Melby ended the night by reading a narrative essay about the loss of gravity and bullies on a playground.

Melby launched “Word Salad” at the Courtyard and Cellar last year. She hopes the event creates opportunities for professional and amateur writers to come together and share their work.

“My favorite evenings are when we have both [amateurs and professionals] and in betweens,” Melby said. “People are encouraged to share their own writing, their own stories. I really want everybody to come share their stuff.”

Melby is a poet, musician, and performance artist originally from Iowa.

She moved back to Decorah nine years ago from Los Angeles where she lived for 15 years. During her time in California, she performed at major West Coast clubs like Punchline, Cobbs, and The Improv. Melby is also the author of the book “My Family and Other Hazards.” Melby enjoys sharing her work with others and believes that other writers should have the opportunity to do the same.


“I just love the camaraderie and I loved spending the evening hearing other people share,” Melby said. “I wanted it to happen and nobody else was going to start it, so I had to do it myself.”

The next “Word Salad” event is on Mar. 18 at 7 p.m at the Courtyard and Cellar.

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