People in the audience cried and wiped their eyes as poet Asia Samson recited a poem he wrote about the death of his sister.
“I bet when you came into this theater, you didn’t think you would be laughing and crying all at one time, right?” Samson said once the poem was finished. “I think that if you take the time to laugh at least once a day and cry at least once a day, it’s been a complete day.”
Samson and his brother-in-law, Jollan Aurelio, who plays the guitar during the show, are called the Asia Project, and they performed at Weber State University on Wednesday. Since 2009, they have traveled around the country performing, and are currently on their “Awakening” college tour.
Before performing the poem, Samson told the story of his relationship with his sister and how she suddenly died. Over the summer, Samson went to visit his family in California for three weeks. After suffering a three-day headache, his sister went to the hospital and learned she had a brain tumor. The tumor was not cancerous, but after she had the surgery to remove it, a blood vessel hemorrhaged in her brain, putting her into a coma. His family decided to pull the plug a few days later.
Samson said that after her death, he was not planning on going on the tour because he wanted to take a year off, but when he was performing at what was meant to be his last show, he changed his mind.
“It was such a beautiful group of people who were just there to listen to poetry,” Samson said. “It reminded me why I do this for a living. It reminds me to let you know that no matter what you’ve been through, whether you’ve had a rough day, rough week, rough month, rough year, you’re not alone.”
Samson also gave advice to the audience. He said what he has learned over the years is that “at the base of it all, life sucks. It’s what we do on top of that that makes it amazing. It’s the people that we love, it’s the friends that we have, it’s the activities, the passion — that’s what makes it amazing.”
He said he used to be in a job that he hated, but didn’t want to break his routine and do something he loved because he was afraid to fail. Then, in 2006, Samson was diagnosed with cancer. He said it made him realize he was wasting his life with something he didn’t enjoy. He went through surgery and has been cancer-free ever since.
“If you follow stability and money, I can almost guarantee it almost always leads nowhere,” Samson said. “But if you follow your passion first, I can almost guarantee you that success will follow you. What is success? It isn’t about being rich or famous. It’s about being able to wake up every day loving what you do.”
Thomas Judd, the programming director at WSU, helped put together the event. He said he first heard Samson perform at a conference in Michigan.
“Students are paying all this money to go to school, they are working so hard . . . so we want to create an opportunity for students to be college kids,” Judd said. “They need to do things outside the classroom that is fun.”
Mercedes Anto, a social work major who attended the event, said she liked Samson’s poem about his sister.
“It was awesome,” she said. “He made me cry; he made me laugh. It was better than I expected.”