Groups Perform Thought Provoking Spoken Word at TNL

Photo courtesy of Michael Pacheco

On Tuesday, the College Programing Board hosted the latest installment of their Tuesday Night Live event series at 10 p.m. in Friends Hall, this time featuring spoken word poet Ashlee Haze. Students came out to enjoy her dynamic performance, while also munching on some Chinese takeout that the CPB provided.

The night opened with a performance by student band Our Wits That Make Us Men. Featuring alumn Dean Scordilis as the vocalist and current student Matt Billy on the guitar, the duo performed eccentric spoken word pieces accompanied by melodic guitar strums.

“We started off as a spoken word group, but evolved into a screamo-emo band,” said Scordilis, referring to the band’s early days. “Tonight, though, since it was a spoken word event, we only performed poetry pieces,” he explained further.

The band uses its voice as a platform to talk about important issues that “need to be talked about,” ranging from sociopolitical topics to mental health topics. One of the pieces they performed was entitled “Holy Father Franklin,” a poem Scordilis said was about the “toxic relationship between the Church and money.”  

“This started off as a cathartic emo release of emotions for me, but then we wanted to write songs that could also relate to others,” said Scordilis. “Personally, I wanted to help kids who have depression and who are suffering, and to let them know that they’re not alone.”

After their performance, which lasted about 20 minutes, the highlight of the night was introduced to the stage. Haze nearly bounced on stage, and her presence claimed the floor as though she owned it. With a smile and an excited “Hello,” she captivated the audience.

Haze effortlessly incorporated humor, warmth, and a little splash of sass into her performance. She read about 16 poems with little personal monologues and funny haikus thrown in between each one.

“Performing came easy to me,” said Haze after her set. “I’m an introvert inside, but an extrovert on stage. Spoken word is a way for me to release my emotions and get out my thoughts.”

Haze explained that she has been performing since she was 16, but she began writing poetry when she was 10 years old.

“I want my writing to be impactful. I want to be that person who says those things that someone else has been thinking. So someone else can say, ‘Hey, that person finally said what I was thinking.’”

Her favorite poem that she performed that night was called “The Help,” inspired by the book and movie of the same title. It is about strong black women she encountered in her life, and how she was inspired by their incredible strength. Empowered by these women, Haze incorporates their themes of fortitude, persistence and working hard through cruel times in her poems.

Haze performed her already spectacular poems with such passion, that the night was an impactful one like she hoped, and the audience will never forget.

“It is such a privilege to write and communicate my thoughts,” said Haze. “I love engaging with my audience, and so tonight was a great night for me.”