“We’re really looking for new talent: people who have things to say and a new, fresh way to say it,” said Kat Tan, executive director of the UNC Wordsmiths. “Again, we’re trying to find new poets who haven’t been performing necessarily, and they are the ones who we want on the team because that will strengthen the team overall. We are made up of poets who have been doing spoken word for a while, and we kind of want to open up the talent pool.”
One draw of Slamsgiving is that feature poet Kevin Kantor will be performing. They are a spoken word poet from Kentucky who tackles social issues in their work as a queer agent for social change.
“If you’re in the spoken word poetry community, Kevin Kantor is kind of a recognizable name,” Tan said. “They’ve done some really great work. I’ve personally been calling them for about two years now, and I’m just excited to have them come and share their work, which is super high caliber and kind of exposes the UNC community to what spoken word could be.”
The Wordsmiths include feature poets, like Kantor, at their slams to showcase the work of professional slammers.
“It’s always really awesome to have a feature come in that blows your mind with some of the work,” Nie said. “This is a person that has really been doing this a lot longer and has expertise and cool things they can share with us growing poets.”
Slamsgiving will also contain an open mic portion, during which, any performer can sign up to share skills, such as singing or rapping.
“If you have something to share, we want you to be a part of our community and come and share that,” Tan said. “No one is giving you a score, and it’s just an opportunity for people at UNC to share their art in this intimate setting, and we completely welcome that.”
The small-scale setting of poetry slams allows members to speak and even perform who may not be comfortable doing so in a larger atmosphere.
“Someone who's shy like me can come to slams, and it's really cool and exciting to find your own voice,” said Jin Kang, a sophomore student on the Wordsmiths' management team.
The Wordsmiths hope the audience will be engaged with and inspired by the spoken word performances at Slamsgiving.
“I come away from every slam learning something new,” Nie said, “or thinking about something in a new way because of the way that someone has performed a line — or maybe the way that they have written something. It’s really a good place to be inspired.”