The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday December 4th

The Rejects challenge stereotypical spoken word poetry

<p>The 2013 - 2014 Rejects members pose together. The spoken word organization began in 2011. (Photo Courtesy of Brianna Torres)</p>
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The 2013 - 2014 Rejects members pose together. The spoken word organization began in 2011. (Photo Courtesy of Brianna Torres)

The Rejects is a spoken word organization that was created in 2011 after founders Deseré Cross, Mariah Monsanto and Anastasia Mebane were not offered a spot in another spoken word organization.

But they’re not rejects anymore. The group participated in a poetry slam Saturday, hosted by fellow spoken word organization UNC Wordsmiths. Rejects member McKenna Gramzay won the competition.

The organization has flown under the radar since its inception in 2011.

“Originally, our plan was to work together to try and get better — so we could try out next year — but then it turned into, ‘Why should we try out again? We should form our own organization,’” Cross said.

The organization strives to create a home for its members and to cultivate growth, both personally and within the community.

The organization sets itself apart from other spoken word groups on campus with its focus on community service. Monsanto said service is a key value of Carolina students and that it was important to bring that value to the organization.

“We are the only spoken word and service group on campus,” she said in an email. “Volunteerism is a a staple as a Tar Heel and is required with membership.”

In the past, the organization has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and held workshops for visiting minority students under the Black Student Movement’s Movement of Youth subcommittee.

Many members came in with strong writing skills but no experience performing their poetry live.

The Rejects cover a variety of subjects, from breakups to events that affect an entire community. After writing, they share their work with other members for feedback.

“It inspires you to write something different or see something in a different light,” sophomore Estefane Santiago-Lopez said.

Santiago-Lopez said there is a common thread among them all.

“They are all united by the fact that they love to write and wanted to perform it,” she said.

Junior Brianna Torres, a member of The Rejects, said the organization is a safe place.

“The Rejects really fosters a creative and positive thinking environment in which students can be themselves,” she said in an email.

Co-founder Mebane hopes The Rejects continue to grow. The group recently held auditions and are planning events.

“Hopefully the Rejects remains an open creative space where words are used as a form of expression and a form of building connection between the poet and the audience or the poet or whatever socio-political movement is going on.”


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