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The Daily Tar Heel

"It takes a village to raise a poet:" student poet Mistyre Bonds talks slam poetry and community

Mistyre Bonds, a UNC senior, currently serves as the Residential Poetry Director for UNC Wordsmiths, a student-run slam poetry organization. Wordsmiths will host its September slam on Sept. 28 from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Anne Queen Lounge of Campus Y. The first and second place winners of the slam will get a chance to compete for a spot on UNC's 2018-2019 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI) team.

Staff writer Savannah Bradley spoke to Bonds about the event and her involvement in UNC Wordsmiths. 

The Daily Tar Heel: What inspired this event?

Mistyre Bonds: So the Wordsmiths do a slam every month during the fall semester — that's something that we've always done. But for this slam, we decided to dedicate it to Hurricane Florence — getting supplies for the victims of Hurricane Florence. 

I have family who are in Jacksonville, and I've seen the devastation of that town. I really relate to that story, and so, as an organization, we really wanted to find a way to pitch in, even if it wasn't directly, and how we could do it through poetry. 

DTH: And what do you expect the turnout for this event to be?

MB: We're hoping that we get a big turnout. 

DTH: What other kinds of events does UNC Wordsmiths put on?

MB: Annually we send a team to compete at CUPSI, which is the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational. That is a national poetry all spoken-word competition between all of the colleges in the United States and abroad. 

They're called qualifiers — slams to find the poets to represent UNC. In addition to that, we workshop and do volunteer events to help people who might want to learn how to heal through poetry or might even just want to turn their page poetry into spoken word, and we do a couple of showcases on various topics or events. 

DTH: How does one have the chance to be a part of Wordsmiths?

MB: We have a couple of different ways that people can get involved with Wordsmiths. The first is to join the management team — they're the team that helps us all out because it takes a village to raise a poet. Helping with slam schemes, designers, video production assistants, whatever you're interested in — they can help lend your talents helping to help poetry and find events. 

We also have the residential poets, and those are the performing poets that then work within the Wordsmiths organization. Auditions just passed for that, but people can show up to the open mic and slam, and we pick up poets at those slams also. If they're interested, please let us know right before the slam, and then after (the slam) we'll email them. 

Then, in general, people who just want to get involved — Wordsmiths is really about having a poetry community and encouraging to find their stories and voice and heal through poetry. So if there are people who don't necessarily want to be in the organization but do want to learn the form, we also do workshops about once a month. Come and learn different aspects of poetry.


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