Carmen Pullella is an international student from Rome, Italy. She is a sophomore majoring in Psychology with a focus in interested in Child and Adolescent Psychopathology. She also enjoys writing poetry, going on an adventure to Northampton downtown and around Smith, taking pictures, and knitting on her own free time.
This winter, she made one of the top four students who will be attending College and University Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI), poetry slam nationals, in Colorado in March to represent Smith College.
Q: What other activities/leadership positions are you involved in at Smith?
A: I wish I had more time to be involved in student organizations! But so far I am only part of a couple, including Spitfire (which is the spoken word club on campus), Active Minds (which focuses on mental health and well-being), and the Sophian (the campus newspaper), for which I am the photographer.
Q: How did you come to competing in the poetry slam?
A: I have always enjoyed listening to spoken word. But an event in particular that drew my attention to poetry was attending an open mic night. The presented and performed pieces really touched me and that opened up my mind to the world of poetry slam. I did not think I could perform but I came to become more engaged. Eventually, I even joined Spitfire and began writing more. Through this process, I gained more confidence and the courage to perform at the next open mic and the next open mic happened to be a poetry slam. And it was a special one too since it determined the winners who would represent Smith to go to nationals in March.
Q: Congratulations! So how does the process of going to nationals really work?
A: So the poetry slam is a competition that determines who would be chosen to go to College and University Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI) in Spring. The first slam round took place at Smith in the TV lounge of the Campus Center. It lasted about three hours with fourteen students who read their pieces. Then, from this event, the top seven poetry readers with the highest score would be chosen to perform for the second round of slam. Then the top four finalists out of the seven are would be those selected to go to CUPSI.
Q: Tell me about the piece you read!
A: I read two pieces throughout the entire process.
The first piece I read dealt with the issue of eating disorders and body image. When I read the piece, in my mind, I was addressing it to my future daughter. I wanted to communicate to her about her how she should not be afraid to be “hungry” for life and new experiences.
The second piece I read was an extended metaphor on letting go called, “The Art of Loose Knitting.” The title stems from the image of knitting myself closely to people then having a hard time letting go and unraveling the strings that I have knit so tight around them.
Q: What inspired you to choose these particular pieces?
A: Both pieces were written during times when I felt the need to examine certain aspects of my relationships certain people in my life and myself. Poetry is my outlet and my own method of release. It is a healing process for me where I am able to reflect, but at the same time, vent out and move on.
Q: How did Smith help or inspire you to be successful in this opportunity?
A: I honestly would not have been able to win the slam had it not been for Smith. Not only did I get involved in poetry slam at Smith, but also I was inspired to become a better writer and poet by my fellow Smithies. Without them, I could not have had the courage to perform or to share my work.
Q: Would you recommend current Smithies and prospective students to look into the Poetry Center at Smith?
A: Of course! The Poetry Center is a great resource and you should definitely seek there for any help regarding poetry writing, ideas sharing and more. And if you are looking to become an active member of a “poetry society,” where there are weekly meets in which the students write and host open mics and spoken word events, Spitfire is fantastic. And Creative Writing club on campus is also an excellent student organization. There are many resources for budding poets and writers on campus that will help you grow exponentially! Get involved, you will not regret it!