Poet Ashlee Haze graced Goshen College with her presence this week in an event organized by both Campus Activity Council (CAC) and Black Student Union (BSU).The event took place at 10 p.m. on a chilly Saturday evening in the Umble Center auditorium.
The night of poetry kicked off with an introduction of Haze from BSU leaders juniors Alhassan Barrie and Alia Byrd. Then Haze walked on stage to much applause from the people in the audience.
Haze started off her set by giving a little information about herself and a statement about how she usually conducts her shows.
“I talk to my audience,” Haze said. “I hope you all talk back.”
And there certainly was “talk[ing] back” from the audience during all of the poems spoken during the night. Haze alternated between speaking from memorization, reading from her phone and her book of poems titled “Land of the Living.”
Each poem lasted about five minutes and Haze would banter with the audience in between. During those times, Haze introduced several different call and responses that the audience could take part in.
The first call and response was titled “five-seven-five,” where Haze would call out “five-seven-five,” the audience would respond with the same words and then Haze would recite a haiku. The name “five-seven-five” came from the number of syllables that are in each line of a haiku.
Another call and response activity Haze did involved popular songs. She would recite the first few words of a famous song’s lyrics and then the audience would finish the line.
Haze tried this activity with the famous lyrics to the theme song of the TV show “Prince of Bel Air” and could hardly get the audience to stop from singing the whole song.
Haze, a native Chicagoan, started doing poetry at the age of ten. Haze didn’t always want to be a poet and originally thought that poetry was boring, and it wasn’t until a nudge from her mother at the age of 10 that she was directed towards the art of sculpting words.
“[My mother] was like ‘yeah you’re gonna be a poet’ and I’m like ‘ah, poetry is boring,’” said Haze. “And so what happened was we ended up, um, doing a church thing and they asked us to right something, and so I wrote [a poem], and I’ve been writing ever since!”