The Asia Project

The+Asia+Project

Lauren Rhodes, Views Editor

On the day of the third and final Presidential debate, Wednesday October 19, Millikin via UCB was treated to a wonderful experience unlike any other. To celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Millikin’s community was invited to “come and meet the men of The Asia Project, an authentic and thought provoking slam poetry group that talks about life through the lens of being Asian American.” The event was an amazing spoken word duo that consisted of a man named Asia Samson who spits poems out like he just can’t help it. The other part of the duo is Jollan, Asia’s brother, the poet genius on a guitar. Jollan’s melodic riffs on the guitar gave the poems spoken that night a rhythm and heartbeat that allowed the poems flowing out of Asia’s mouth to vibrate and fill up the whole space. The spoken word delivered that night was done so “to move you.”  

The poems spoken that night were more than just art. Fun fact: this wasn’t The Asia Project’s first time here at Millikin. They were, in fact, here in 2011 at what Asia describes as one of the best shows he ever had at the time. All the audience had to do was sit back and be transformed. Not only were we most definitely transformed, sometimes we were even moved to tears. Asia has one rule and one rule only: treat the experience of listening to him recite his spoken word “ like sex.” What he means by that is, it’s more enjoyable for all those involved to not only be enthusiastic about the experience but to be vocal and give shout outs and declarations of praise while listening to him speak as well.

Asia has toured over 600 colleges since 2009, been seen on HBO Def Poetry and has had the pleasure of sharing the stage with such artists as Jannelle Monet, Jill Scott and Mos Def to name a few. Asia Samson and brother-in law Jollan have been featured together on TEDx and Button Poetry and are currently the highest booked poetry act in the college market. Together they have won APCA Performer of the Year and APCA Spoken Word Artist of the Year three times over.

Asia Samson started out the night with love poems because he felt the world needs a little love these days. Love in all forms I might add, since as he says “the world is so crappy like, cancel my Facebook bad.” He started out with a goal in mind to spread love and positive energy. His love poems carried the following messages, “kind words can heal all wounds” and “asking for permission is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of respect!” Those words came from a poem titled “For Jessica,” a love poem he wrote for his wife. This poem ended and Asia immediately launched into a wonderful dialogue with those of us in attendance that night, and over the course of the event he made sure to not only recite spoken word but also just have open and honest conversations with us as well. He even poked fun at those times in our life when we sit around a table with friends and we get so wrapped up in our phones we forget to just “live in the moment.” s he declares put down your phones, “be present, and I’m the most HD you’re going to get.”

He honestly spoke about surviving cancer and how the death of his sister brought him closer to his family. One takeaway that stuck out in my mind was that Asia said, “Life is a coma we can choose to wake up from.” He encourages his audience to “follow your passions first and success will follow you,” as well as “what I’ve learned from cancer, sometimes you have to lose a part of yourself to find your whole self. Don’t just give up and wallow until your self-pity consumes you, seek help and sometimes those obstacles thrown at you make you a better person.” The night was truly filled with magnificent spoken world as well as fantastic truth bombs being thrown down as well.

If you missed this wonderful event you can still see and be moved by The Asia Project’s amazing talent through their website, http://www.theasiaproject.com/.