“This event is a chance for individuals to express themselves in an accepting family environment, and it allows our community to interface with our youth and to tell their own stories.”
The Wordsmiths are the main spoken word organization on campus and UNC’s collegiate branch of Sacrificial Poets. They host several events a month and represent Carolina in national poetry competitions.
The executive director of the Wordsmiths, Kat Tan, said the organization has two main functions: to promote the love of poetry and to help people compete in slam poetry at the highest levels. She said she hopes Tuesday’s event will help promote underclassmen to join the organization and carry on its legacy.
“I expect to see a lot of faces there that saw us at Week of Welcome,” Tan said. “I’m seeing it as an opportunity to make new friends and to introduce some really cool people to the world of poetry. I’m really excited about that.”
McKeown has worked with Sacrificial Poets since her sophomore year of high school. In addition to studying poetry at UNC, she was a national finalist at College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI) in 2013 and has published three poetry collections.
McKeown said she loves these events because she gets to watch the audience’s reactions while she performs.
“The great thing about slam poetry is that you really have the opportunity to be in conversation with the audience,” McKeown said. “You have a real time sort of feedback loop and reaction.”
McKeown, who will be leaving for the Peace Corps on Saturday, said Tuesday’s open mic will be especially important to her. She hopes to use it as a way to thank Sacrificial Poets for supporting her and helping her to grow in her poetry.
“It’s this group that I got started through in high school and they’ve sort of raised me in this community, so it’s sort of a cyclical way to say goodbye.”