Before I Say Hello: A Poem in Honor of NSAW

May 10, 2019
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Kelly Severseike is an AIS client who a writer, blogger and poet. Kelly shared with us her poem "Before I Say Hello" in honor of National Stuttering Awareness Week. "Before I Say Hello" speaks to the uncertainties of stuttering and the power that comes from owning and speaking in her own voice. We applaud Kelly for her courage and thank her for writing such beautiful words.

Before I Say Hello

Before I say hello,

I acknowledge

to myself

what will happen.

I will stutter.

Sometime throughout

the string of words

that will flow

out of my mouth,

there will be a bump.

It’s inevitable.

This is okay.

A bump


or two

of three

won’t kill my flow.

A big bump

that causes me

to use a trick

won’t stop me

from speaking.

What’s important

is that I share

my thoughts.

I speak for

my voice,

my voice


does not

speak for me.

I continue to learn

how to navigate

the strong waters

when there’s an uptick

in my stutter.

How I approach

conversations has shifted.

I have gained

an awareness

I never could

have predicted.

I still say

what I want

but I may not

ramble on the way

I once did

when I was comfortable

with the stutter I knew.

For things have shifted

and that’s okay,

It’s apart of stuttering,

nothing is certain.


If you enjoyed this make sure to read Kelly's piece on "What Stuttering Means to Me", published on May 9th in honor of National Stuttering Awareness Day. As well, you can explore more of Kelly's poetry and her writings at

To learn more about National Stuttering Awareness Week and exciting events at AIS, check out this blogpost on our website.


The American Institute for Stuttering is a leading non-profit organization whose primary mission is to provide universally affordable, state-of-the-art speech therapy to people of all ages who stutter, guidance to their families, and much-needed clinical training to speech professionals wishing to gain expertise in stuttering. Offices are located in New York, NY and Atlanta, GA, and services are also available Online. Our mission extends to advancing public and scholarly understanding of this often misunderstood disorder

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