By: Tonya Jackson
Sluggo’s, a local vegetarian restaurant, 101 S Jefferson St., devotes Tuesday evenings to spoken word poets. Diverse poets of all ages come to share their hearts and words with an enthusiastic audience. Recently I had the opportunity to speak with a vet with over 20 year’s of professional experience, a nationally known artist, and a poet on the verge of breaking out who read from his recently released book.
Asia Samson was at Sluggo’s preparing for the Emerald Coast Edition of Poetry Bistro. After his set, he took the time to speak with me. He shared that he has been writing since he was about five years old and remembers his first poem was written to impress a girl. While working in corporate America, he was encouraged to try his hand at an open mic. After a few open mics, his raw talent caught the ear of his now manager. Three months later his manager was ready to sign him, and he had to tell him that he had just diagnosed with cancer. His manager actively helped him with his fundraisers to pay for his treatment, and they developed a bond and a business relationship.
Samson states, “My manager took me to the college market, and I performed a poem about cancer, and it was the first time that people gave a standing ovation to a poet at this college. Then the shows started coming in. It was during this time that Def Poetry Jam called me and said, ‘Hey, we want you to be on Def Poetry Jam.’ I was like, this is crazy! I was just watching you guys! Now I’m on the other side of this, and I just thank God. God works, man!” He has been cancer free for ten years, but his poetry still has consciousness as he displayed when he shared “Pink Crayons”.
Quincy Hull, “Q”, is a native of Gary, Indiana and has been involved in poetry for over 20 years. On Tuesday evenings, he shares hosting responsibilities and his poetry. “Q” noted, “in those early years, I was more driven. When I released my first book, my mom and I did an interview together, and she said I started writing in the womb and used the umbilical cord as a pen. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t write.” Writing helped him survive the harsh reality of growing up in the violence of Gary. He noted that one year he lost his brother and 14 friends. “Our connection to this universe is the word, ‘In the beginning there was the word.’ That’s very, very powerful and I love the power of words.”
“Q” has written three books and recently released his fifth cd, “A Son Never Forgets – Ashe”. You can purchase it at www.stillblacksee.bandcamp.com or you can buy one after he finishes his set on Tuesday nights.
Kendall Donar, a Panama City native, began writing poetry at the tender age of ten. A few months ago Donar issued a challenge to his Facebook friends help him and his mission. “When people liked my statement I reached out to them individually and asked them how they could contribute to help me and my mission, which is PLANE. PLANE is Positive Living Alters Nearly Everything. I put that into everything I do.” His challenge caused many of us to look at him differently, this isn’t just a hobby it’s his calling. Donar just recently released his first book, “Acuity” and on this evening he shared a poem from it “And to You”. Donar usually goes by his onstage persona FAME (Forget About ME) because he wants the focus to be on his poetry. You can find him around the city at various poetry venues, and his book is available on Amazon.com.
Spoken Word Night at Sluggo’s is free and they usually have a dinner special. If you have a poem burning inside of you, they welcome you to their stage. If you just want to hear poets perfecting their craft, applause, snaps, and tips are accepted.