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The Battalion

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Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) robs a home run from Florida infielder Cade Kurland (4) in the top of the ninth inning during Texas A&M’s game against Florida at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Sunday, June 15, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
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June 16, 2024

A quick snapshot of four students and recent grads who will compete at TGS

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Carla Pelcastre
After three years of creative writing, international studies senior Carla Pelcastre decided she wanted to share her work with others.
Pelcastre, who has been a poet since her senior year of high school, has performed at Mic Check to further develop her craft and said she is nervous and excited for her first competitive performance.
“I’m definitely halfway freaking out,” Pelcastre said. “But I’m also so excited to attend TGS and learn from all the other poets as well as to just be a part of something so incredible.”
Pelcastre said she often draws inspiration for poems from difficult experiences. She said the writing process was therapeutic and emotional.
“When I first started writing I just liked that I could actually express myself on paper — that when I looked at my writings I understood what I was going through and feeling,” Pelcastre said. “It’s an amazing feeling to be able to hold a sheet of paper that encompasses your demons and be able to face them that way.”
Although Pelcastre enjoys writing and performing her poetry, she is not set on pursuing it as a career. Pelcastre said she wants to stay involved by giving back to the arts community.
“I think, truthfully, poetry is very much just a necessity in my life,” Pelcastre said. “Regardless of my future in performing and competitions, I will always write poetry. However, right now I’m so proud and love the things poetry has enabled in my life. [Mic Check] has writing workshops with high school students where we meet once a week and we talk about spoken word and have writing prompts and get to know the kids.”
Brent Green
For Brent Green, Class of 2014 and former creative writing major, poetry began in high school when he was inspired by his interest in a girl and over the years evolved into a career pursuit.
Brent described his first experience onstage reciting his poetry as cathartic.
“When I was finally convinced to get on stage for the first time, I had people truly listening to me and I could build this sort of emotional bridge with the audience, sharing my thoughts and feelings and having them respond in real time,” Green said.
Since Brent started writing poetry, his inspiration has shifted from relationships and romance to questions of human nature.
“The ultimate reason behind why I do poetry and how I structure my poems is that I’m passionate about understanding our human condition, answering why we and others feel the way we do and the reasons we act,” Green said.
Having performed for a few years and being a part of Texas Grand Slam for four years, Green admitted that he still gets nervous from time to time onstage, but the feeling doesn’t last long.
“Over time you learn how to make the stage your second home, to confront the mic stand and crowd,” Brent said.
Green said he draws energy from performing, not the competition. It’s not only an experience for the audience, but for the poet as well.
“Audience and poet are with each other during every poem feeding off one another,” Green said. “So it’s as rewarding for the poets as it is the audience. That’s why festivals such as Texas Grand Slam are picking up huge amounts of traction.”
Kate Higgins
For Kate Higgins, geographic information science and technology junior, slam poetry is both an act and expression of honesty.
“I think a lot of times people walk through the world and don’t have a way to express their thoughts in that kind of manner that’s really raw, and poetry is that for me,” Higgins said.
Higgins said she was exposed to slam poetry and started writing her own as a senior in high school. She said she started going to Mic Check before her sophomore year in college.
“Prior to that, actually, when I was a senior in high school, our English teacher brought in some slam poets who did a performance for us,” Higgins said. “One of them actually ended up being ‘Good Ghost Bill’, who is a poet on the local slam scene, and he’ll be competing this weekend. Hearing them really kind of sparked and inspired me. I started writing when I was a senior in high school.”
Higgins said poetry is for everyone.
“You know a lot of people have different ideas about what poetry is, but my understanding I made is I think the idea of the local slam scene that Mic Check does you have a voice, and if you put something down on paper and you read it out loud, or even if you don’t ever read it out loud — that’s poetry and no one can tell you otherwise.”
Higgins said her performances will contain themes of the process of life.
“You know, just because I write something and I process through a life event, that doesn’t mean that I suddenly have everything figured out,” Higgins said. “I think that’s true of everyone. I’m not perfect, but life and poetry for me is all part of a healing process. and so I think that’s what it is. Life is a healing process and poetry can be that, too.”
Ryan McMasters
Ryan McMasters, Class of 2011 microbiology graduate, said this is his second time performing at Texas Grand Slam. McMasters said his first experience was nerve-wracking, but he looks forward to this year’s performance.
“Last year I did about the worst you could do,” McMasters said. “I was very nervous, I dropped a line and nothing was perfect. It’s easier to actually learn from mistakes and don’t try to relive what you did last year.”
McMasters has been involved in the poetry scene since he graduated from A&M. He began reading at Mic Check two years ago and now serves as writing director.
He draws inspiration for his work from Christianity and views on life.
“Some people have experiences that they need to talk about for therapy … some people see injustices and comment on it. In my case, you hear a lot of Christian undertones and overtones and perspective shifting,” McMasters said.
Ryan said he was attracted to the stage by the surprisingly friendly atmosphere and creative ambience.
“A lot of people see it as a family reunion because it’s not angry or hostile,” McMasters said. “It is more about camaraderie and healthy competition as opposed to, ‘I will win at all costs, no matter how I have to hurt someone.’”

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