Spoken word duo inspires hope, change in small doses

The stage holds a guitar, but no band. A chair, but no drama. A microphone, but no comedian.

At 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 7, The Asia Project, a spoken word poetry duo, took the stage at the Rhea Miller Concert Hall.

“I think it’s really important that we have a diverse selection of entertainment,” Program Board President Molly Starr said. “It’s really cool that we have a poet coming rather than a comedian or musician.”

The Valley Vanguard

Vanguard photo | Jamie Loubert

Asia Samson, the poet of The Asia Project, performs a selection last Friday in the Rhea Miller Recital Hall. Samson performs alongside guitarist Jollan Aurelio for their dual performances.

Asia Samson, The Asia Project’s poet, performs alongside guitarist Jollan Aurelio.

“The music just brings poetry to another level,” Samson said. “I think it really brings the emotions out of (poetry) and puts people on some emotional ride.”

The duo performed seven poems, and Samson told the story behind each poem before he shared it. The first poem introduced him and his purpose, the second poem discussed the idea of body image and the third poem focused on successful relationships.

Criminal justice junior Destyn Graves called the humor in Samson’s performance her favorite part.

“I liked the jokes (Samson told),” Graves said. “He was really funny.”

Not all of Samson’s poems were comical, though.

Samson dedicated his fourth poem, “Awakening,” to his sister, who passed away in a coma from complications following the removal of a brain tumor.

“I can’t do a show without honoring her,” he said. “It’s the hardest poem I’ve ever had to write.”

Samson said that the poem is not about death, though; it’s about life. Near the end of the poem, he said “life is a coma we can still choose to wake up from.”

Samson’s battle with cancer inspired his fifth poem, “Waiting Hour.” He said the poem was his most personal piece.

His last poem, “Alive,” contrasted his sister’s death with his son’s birth.

“If there’s anything I want you to get tonight, it’s the fact that you’re alive,” Samson said. “Whatever you’re going through, see it through because life is too precious to just waste away.”

According to Samson, college students are a good audience for his messages.

“I can really reach a lot of people doing the college circuit,” Samson said. “We always have a great time doing colleges, and a lot of big acts start off doing colleges as well. It helps build a fan base. College is perfect in that, plus the young adults are really receptive to (our messages).”

Program Board canceled the student poetry slam portion of the event due to a low turnout.

Starr said she hopes the students who heard The Asia Project enjoyed the unique performance.

“I hope that some people who did not realize poetry was cool came and liked the experience and maybe get into poetry themselves or go see more shows like this,” Starr said. “I hope that they had a good time and came to appreciate a more diverse range of entertainment.”

For more information about The Asia Project, visit their website at theasiaproject.com.

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