The Asia Project delivers poetry from the heart

March 12, 2014

By Abrielle Backhaus

 

A small group of about 20 students gathered in the UC Down Under Thursday night to engage in a poetry performance by The Asia Project.

Asia Samson, a slam poet, was accompanied by his brother-in-law Jollan Aurelio, who plays guitar.

The night started with a poem about being beautiful without enhancements, makeup or “superficial ambition.”

All of Samson’s pieces come from personal experiences, most of which have challenged him throughout his life, including dealing with his sister’s death and his own battle with cancer.

Samson’s sister had gone to the hospital with complaints of a headache only to find she had a tumor in her brain that needed to be removed through surgery. After a blood hemorrhage Samson’s sister fell into a coma and later died.

Samson told the crowd he believes everything happens for a reason and everyone should cherish each minute because one never knows when it will be the last moment.

“We’re so worried about what will happen tomorrow we forget the moment we are in,” Samson said.

Samson said the poem he wrote in his sister’s memory was one of the hardest he has ever written, yet a valuable lesson was learned.

“Life is a coma we can still choose to wake up from,” Samson said.

Samson asked for audience involvement frequently, but he especially received support it in his poem “Love you Like the ’90s,” where he talked about different trends in the ’90s. Samson also spoke about his battle with testicular cancer in January 2006.

SEAL Manager Sara Molnar said The Asia Project caught her attention and Samson’s brief 20-minute preview performance about his cancer struggle was enough to engage her.

Molnar
Molnar

Molnar was one of the five delegates of SEAL chosen to attend NACA, a conference held each year to choose events and programs for the upcoming school year with the intent of finding something that will appeal to all students.

“Specifically for us, I think that a lot of times in spoken word it’s hard to kind of realize what would fit well in our campus, kind of what people are interested in,” Molnar said. “I think just how he was able to be so show such emotion and be able to talk about his personal experience was a reason that we really liked him.”

The Asia Project has been on the road since August and visits about 180 colleges each year.

Samson tailors his material for the college atmosphere, and Molnar said she knows everyone deals with hardships that maybe they can relate to Samson’s poetry.

“People deal with their own personal struggles on campus a lot, and we thought students could really relate to that and how to handle their own situations,” Molnar said.

Freshman Brandon Bennett was in attendance at The Asia Project to fill a class requirement, and said he was surprised by the emotions the event evoked.

Bennett
Bennett

Bennett said he initially was not looking forward to the event, but he connected with Samson through a similar struggle he is facing in his own life.

“He started talking about his dad and his sister with brain issues and everything,” Bennett said. “And my dad actually had a tumor taken out a couple of weeks ago and it’s cancerous, so I really related to that, just how’s he’s saying being places for a reason kind of hit me.”

Bennett said poetry has never been an interest of his. He only ever engaged in spoken word when it was required for a class.

Poetry can be hard to understand, Bennett said.

“I’ve never been a huge fan of poetry, but I don’t know, he kind of gave some respect to it,” Bennett said. “Like poetry just reading it, you don’t know the meaning of it, but him giving me the meaning and everything and telling me the background it made it more relatable.”

Cancer free for eight years, Samson reflected on his battle with cancer and left the students with one last bit of advice.

“Sometimes you have to loose a part of yourself to find your whole self,” Samson said.

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