Gallery Off the Square in Sherman is working to help individuals develop businesses in cultural arts and other fields. Ruth Cox Williamson hopes the poetry jams that are held at the facility, which is located at 101 E. Jones Street in Sherman, are a way to do that.


The next poetry jam will be held Thursday at 5:30 p.m. The jam sessions will continue on the second and fourth Thursday of each month for writers of all mediums, including song, verse, spoken word, poetry and more.


“We had open meetings last year that ranged from 4 to 12 people of all ages participating,” Williamson said in an email. “Then a smaller group began meeting bi-weekly as a study group writing specific kinds of poems and bringing them to read. That group needed to change the meeting date, so I decided since I have the space, and I would be there anyway, to open up the process to a wider group of participants. This way, multiple small or large groups, as well as individual writers, can interact.”


During the meeting, poetry groups will be divided by genre and interest into groups of four to six people. The group members present to each other and give each other feedback.


“We have space for those that want to perform or read, and those that want to listen, can be met, as well as study groups,” Williamson said. “As the groups develop, I hope we can schedule public performance as well.”


On Aug. 9, two women drove from Denton to attend the event, she said.


“There is a revived interest in expression, I believe, that is more accessible because of digital media and self-publishing,” Williamson explained. “We will be helping people organize, print and sell their work.”


Writing, Williamson said, can held with self expression. She also said many therapists and life coaches ask their clients to journal for that reason.


“Self-employed expression brings clarity and transformation as people work through their thoughts, ideas and feelings,” she said in her email. “We would like to help develop art therapy programs with area therapists and counseling centers and develop a supporting grant program for practitioners so that creativity is used to help people with self-actualization and positive growth.”


In the future, Williamson hopes the poetry jams will also gain the attention of area leaders so new collaborative community-based programs can start taking place at Ideation Station and Gallery Off the Square.


“What is most helpful is to practice and to schedule time for writing and other creative outlets,” she said. “I have favorites in every genre — science fiction/fantasy — probably Asimov, Heinlein, LeGuin, Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, literature — the Bronte sisters, I love classic children’s stories and nursery rhymes, all kinds of music.”


The poetry jams at Gallery Off the Square are free and open to the public. Writers of all mediums in large and small groups can share their works.