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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

‘Comfort in the words’: Poet Mystic Ross shares magic of writing

Monique Bever
Mystic Ross poses for photo writing in notebook on Feb 22. Ross is a creative writing student at Wichita State. She hosts and performs for open-mic poetry nights across the city.

Mystic Ross has been writing ever since she could. After creating her first story at 6 years old about a rabbit using construction paper and markers, Ross knew she’d continue telling stories for the rest of her life. 

“My mom was the source of my creative spark,” Ross said. “When I was younger, she used to create stories … and she would encourage me to do so. My earliest memory was me trying to recite ‘Three Little Pigs,’ and she was like, ‘That story’s already been made. I want something that you created.’”

Growing up at a predominantly Black Catholic school, Ross became exposed to poetry through Maya Angelou and Langston Hughes. Ross had always aspired to be a writer, and seeing two Black poets inspired her from a young age. 

“It just made me really happy to know that there were other Black people, people that looked like me, that were succeeding in poetry, in their careers,” Ross said. “And by me reading them, knowing their views and feelings along with their experiences at the time as well really inspires the topics that I usually write about.”

Through her poetry, Ross explores love, feelings, mental health and the complexities of the human experience. Ross finds she’ll often use her writing as an outlet to vent frustrations. 

“Writing has just been such a huge part of my growth as a human, being able to identify my emotions and things,” Ross said. “When I take my thoughts and feelings and turn them into my poems, my art, it heals me.”

Ross stood in front of a crowd reading her poetry for the first time in 2018 at an open-mic event. Nerves swept over her, but with two poems sitting in her notes app, adrenaline hit, and she was able to break out of her shell and introduce herself and her art to the community. 

“When I was able to start reciting, it felt like second nature,” Ross said.

After her first performance, Ross was inspired to write and perform more than ever before. Finding the Wichita poetry community relatively small, with infrequent shows and readings attended mainly by regulars, Ross hoped to widen that audience and create a space for everyone to experience poetry. 

“I think it’s very important that poetry gets spread into the community because you never know who can relate to your struggles,” Ross said. “People can find comfort in the words. People can find hope in the words … and just a lot of inspiration for themselves as well.” 

In March 2023, Ross began hosting poetry events to perform her work and give other poets a space to do so.

Mystic Ross does a reading of one of her poems. Courtesy of Mystic Ross.

While hosting shows at MONIKAHOUSE, she received a list of other poets in the community and reached out to Robinson Ensz, a lecturer at Wichita State. Ensz said he could immediately tell Ross was “the person who should be running” the poetry readings.

“Mystic has a really wonderful aspect to the way that she approaches poetry and the way that she approaches community and brings those two things in line where she’s striving to make a space for her own outlet, but also provide a safe outlet for others in the community,” Ensz said.

After Ross receives her bachelor’s degree in creative writing, she plans on joining a master’s of fine arts program and pursuing a career as an English professor. Ross has always wanted to teach and said she had an epiphany at one of her poetry readings that she was meant to teach writing.

“I want to be able to help other students find their voice in writing and give them enough confidence to be able to just keep writing,” Ross said.

Ross’ next poetry reading, Mystic’s Mic, is set to take place at 7 p.m. on April 12 at The Donut Whole.

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About the Contributor
Monique Bever
Monique Bever, Reporter
Monique Bever is a first-year reporter and photographer. She is a freshman majoring in philosophy. Monique has lived in Wichita for most of her life. She loves film, fashion, and her cat.

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    Carolyn BahrMar 7, 2024 at 6:24 pm

    I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to Mystic’s poetry readings. She is truly a gifted writer. Her readings hold my interest and leave me longing for more.