Arts & Entertainment

KU’s Open Mic Night with Asia Samson

By Jenny Wallace
Arts & Entertainment Editor

On Friday, Oct. 14, KU held a virtual poetry open mic night hosted by Asia Samson, a professional spoken word artist from South Florida. 

He has toured over 1000 colleges and his work has been featured on HBO, Ted talks and Button. He has worked for Nokia and Disney and has won APSCA college performer of the year.

Samson started off the night with his poem “Slash.”

“Think about what you wanted to be when you grow up…”

He spoke about his long list of goals and careers he had as a kid, such as heart surgeon, architect and painter. 

As he grew older, teachers and counselors discouraged him from pursuing many of his lifelong dreams, “flicking off the lightswitch in young minds,” leaving him to “[run] out of slashes” and question what his purpose in life was.

Credit: YouTube

Afterwards, Samson spoke about his new goal in life, which is to be steady. Even that becomes a struggle though, telling the audience about his battle with testicular cancer, which he ultimately beat and eventually even had a son.

Samson lightened the mood by reading comical haikus:

Turnup on fleek

Cash me outside

Stop texting me mom

You’re 65

I’ve got 99 problems

But a testicle

I only have one

Just cause I have small feet

Doesn’t mean I have a small

Samson continued by talking about his poem “90’s Love,” which no longer resonated with the young college audience , each year speaking to younger and younger audiences. He then wrote a “2000’s Love” for the technology brand Nokia. 

After “2000’s Love,” a KU psych major, Hayley Benson, took the stage to read her poem, “Burning Cigarette.” 

A short but striking poem, Benson uses a clever near rhyme scheme and detailed imagery that creates a burning emotional tone.

Samson then read a newer poem, one he wrote during quarantine, that compared his family’s cooking to his family functioning. Without all the ingredients in a recipe, the food won’t turn out properly, just like a family isn’t a family without each and every member. 

Samson stressed that what we have is enough, and we should quit searching for happiness, as it’s right in front of us while we’re too busy searching to try and find it.

The poem, “Awakening” spoke to this point even further. Having lost his sister abruptly from a brain tumor, Samson talks about staying present, spending each possible moment with those around you.

“We get older, busier, and have less time for people that we love,” so spend all the free time you can hugging and loving those around you.

Next up, another KU student Eleanor Trigony read two of her poems. Both had a very rhythmic and rap like flow to them, the first touching on thoughts like failing, fear and hiding. 

Her second poem was about the feeling of acceptance and the anxiety that comes with it, as well as discovering her gender identity. Trigony had to first hide and run from her identity to blossom and find herself.

Samson then reads his poem “Bathtub” which details his experiences from when his wife had a miscarriage and tells the horrors and beauty of starting a family. 

“Walking constellation” talks about his son’s struggle with neurofibromatosis and how what used to be seen as something to hide from the world became viewed as miracle birthmarks. While some may stare and point at the unique spots on his son’s skin, people also stare and point at the stars.

Samson ended with a poem about tombstones and being remembered. He had an ongoing joke with his sister about what their headstones would say, and it quickly became reality when she passed away. 

But Samson used his tragedies to help teach others, reminding listeners to focus on the true meaning of life.

“How did you live your life for YOU?”

“Be a savior to the ones who love you.”

Check out Samson’s work on theasiaproject.com.

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