The Louisville Cardinal

The Asia Project: Poetry for the masses

By Ryan Considine–

“Breathe. It’s a process, an involuntary function of which lung muscles expand and contract, in fact the human body can’t survive without oxygen.” Oftentimes we tend to forget how truly great it is to be alive and breathing. We feel so stressed from our everyday busy lives and we don’t even take time to “breathe.” The Asia Project landed in Louisville’s Floyd Theatre on Sept. 12 and set out on their biggest, recordbreaking “Project Bleed,” a 6-month tour featuring over 120 universities across the country.

The two-man duo now includes lead man Asia, an inspirational “slam poet” from Miami, Florida and his right hand man and brother-inlaw Jollan Aurelio who plays guitar. The Asia Project has achieved great success and recognition being featured on Russell Simmon’s HBO Def Poetry – hosted by Mos Def – and named 2006 performer of the year by the Association of the Promotion of Campus Activities. Asia most recently broke the record for most college-booked poet ever by booking a whopping 185 college shows. He is a living example of a miracle on Earth, having battled cancer in 2006 and survived. It is his belief that everyone was put on this Earth for one specific reason, to share his beautiful story of struggle and to emphasize what’s most important in life: living everyday like it’s your last.

Clinging to his death bed, looking for unanswered questions, debating the very existence of God, Asia says in his poem “Breathe,” “Time is ticking, slipping, faster than we can expect,” bursting onto the microphone, motioning his hand like a ticking clock, but slowly coming back down to a slow, steady pace. “My doctor says all I can do is wait, wait until the incision heals, wait to see if the cancer was caught in time, and wait to get back to my right state of mind. Imagine yourself, lying in your hospital bed, a state of sheer panic, waiting to know if you’re going to live or die. Luckily Asia was able to win in his battle against cancer, but as soon as he knew he was going to live, he made a promise to himself that he would never take anything for granted. He began to understand that there was no more time to be wasted on doing something you do not love, something so unfulfilling.

He quickly quit his job in industrial America and began working on his poetry full-time. Asia screams out for the world to hear, shouting with every last breath in his lungs, “I am living now, I am living today! With every breath, I’ll know I’ve lived this life to the fullest!” At that very moment, I began to notice what an incredible impact he had on this crowd and how touched they were by his words. People were crying, maybe knowing someone having battled cancer themselves or in memory of the loss of a loved one, cheering and screaming everything they could think of. But this is exactly the kind of engagement Asia is looking for. “Laugh, cry, cheer, do whatever you want to tell me you’re listening and like what you hear.” This gave him the proper respect he is looking for to fuel his spirits and gave him proper recognition.

Asia not only speaks of his battle of cancer, but also speaks passionately about the love of his life in “For Jessica,” a poem written for his wife. Asia began writing the poem after the first date he went on with his wife, and then read it to her on their
wedding day. After having stated this before the crowd of 25 in the Floyd Theatre, the crowd all began an overwhelming “Awww!” “Let go of past mistakes, let go of past heartaches, let go of past arguments, the past is something you should both learn from, it is not something that should be brought up to just to prove a point.”
Photo:Johnathan Masters/The Louisville Cardinal