WMUC’s Third Rail Radio show has been entertaining the University of Maryland and College Park communities each Sunday with features from local acts since 1996.

Some of the show’s past guests include Alexander Sway, Fontana and Flo Petite, who all performed in the WMUC studio above the South Campus Dining Hall. The coolest thing about Third Rail, which takes place every Sunday, is that it feels like this university’s version of NPR’s “Tiny Desk Concerts,” with performers and hosts packed into a small space where they can vibe to music. Sunday night was no exception, but this week’s show provided a new twist.

Sunday marked the first time Third Rail has hosted a spoken word performance. Camilo Montoya y Los Locos performed – and what a performance it was!

By infusing music with spoken word, the performance delivered something different to Third Rail, which is most famous for its punk rock acts. Montoya’s performance was riveting because the poetry became an embodied act that incorporated instruments, which allowed the audience to participate.

Behind Camilo Montoya y Los Locos is Camilo Montoya, who grew up reciting other people’s poetry but didn’t start writing his own until his junior year of high school. His favorite original poem from Sunday’s show was “Role of a Poet,” which he wrote for the Third Rail performance.

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“I wanted a piece that would get the audience engaged and also put out a statement at the same time, like ‘oh, we all poets, we all do poetry,’” Montoya said. “It was the newest one and the least structured one.”

Montoya’s goal was to make sure everyone in the audience felt that poetry was accessible to them.

“I wanted to be like, poetry can be cool, poetry is accessible, we can all do it,” he said. “It’s just [about] pushing poetry out there.”

The poet’s Nicaraguan identity and local upbringing also plays a huge role in how his poetry takes shape

Senior pre-nursing major Sarita Miller said that Sunday’s performance was “powerful.” Miller, who is from Costa Rica, said it was great to hear the perspectives of other Latinos through art.

“It’s really hard to put into words experiences that are so complex and [Montoya] does that really well,” Miller said. “I think that the music aspect also adds something that words can’t fully capture…It adds another layer.”

My favorite poem of the night that Camilo performed was “Juana.” The poem starts off with the line “Strong, Bold, Brown woman.” It was a beautiful ode to older Latina women that have been mothers, grandmothers, aunts and sisters. The poem also touched on the complexities of trying to make a life in America.

Third Rail brings together people from many different backgrounds to gather around live music.

Julia Matney, a senior government and politics major and WMUC’s Live Music Director, said the number of people who came to see the show Sunday was a personal highlight.

“During COVID we couldn’t have guests come on the show, it was completely virtual, so we had to slowly bring back the idea of it being a live show,” she said.