DUNMORE, Pa. – Nationally known word/slam poetry artist Asia Samson inspired Penn State Scranton students with his life story at an event held on campus.
Inspired by "Where the Sidewalk Ends," a 1974 children's poetry collection written and illustrated by Shel Silverstein, Samson was hooked on the idea of storytelling through poetry at the ripe age of 6 years old.
“I don’t really consider myself a poet more than I consider myself a storyteller,” Samson said. “I think I am more passionate about the story than I am about the poem. I write my poems around stories."
Samson has toured over 2,000 colleges across the country, breaking college booking records. He's been awarded the APCA College Performer of the Year and the APCA Spoken Word Artist of the Year, and has even appeared on HBO's Def Poetry Jam, Ted Talks, Button Poetry, NPR's Tiny Desk Contest and So Far Sounds. This event was Samson’s fourth time at Penn State.
“College is hard,” Samson said. “People are trying to find their way in life and find out who they are, so I think when they hear a story from someone that’s older than them, like myself, about where life might take you, I think that helps a lot.”
Samson attained a degree in graphic design, only to find out years later his passion for poetry would lead to his eventual career.
“You never know how your passions might find you. What you’re going to school for now might not necessarily be what you will be doing in the future,” he said.
"People are trying to find their way in life and find out who they are, so I think when they hear a story from someone that’s older than them, like myself, about where life might take you, I think that helps a lot."
—Asia Samson , Word/Slam Poetry Artist
During his performance, Samson used his emotional poems to share his personal experiences with challenge and tragedy – from the shock of his own cancer diagnosis at the age of 11 and his recovery, to the tragic story of his sister Kate, who suffered a blood vessel hemorrhage and lapsed into a coma for several days before passing away. The underlying message for those in the audience was to embrace life and live it the fullest.
“It was a great representation of storytelling through the equations of turns and terrors; from the reality and hope we live around with rhythm and rhyme,” said Joshua Safuto, a second-year aerospace engineering student who attended the event. “Sometimes living in a life that’s so predictable, having a curveball like this and listening to his story kind of lightens up your day.”
Ashlyn Healey, a second-year English major, said that while she did not know too much about slam poetry before the event, it is something she wants to look into more.
“I really enjoyed it. I experienced a wide range of emotions – I laughed, I cried – I had a wonderful experience and would love to attend something like this again,” she said.
Healey said she appreciates Penn State Scranton's effort to organize events and bring in speakers with a focus on different cultures and backgrounds.
“You truly get to see life through someone else’s point of view, and it takes you into a different world for an hour,” Healey said.
For those who could not attend the event, selections of Samson's work are available online through The Asia Project.