Kiera “Ashlee Haze” Nelson, a spoken word writer from Atlanta, was at Millersville on October 4, 2017, speaking in her passionate tone as usual. On her web- site, she says her work is “in- tended to enlighten as well as entertain,” which is the exact explanation for her performances. Known by the nickname of “Big 30” because she gets a perfect score in the poetry contests she enters, Haze has been participating in poetry in Atlanta for over a decade. She has been writing over 15 years, and last year she was featured on “Blood Orange’s Freetown Sound.” Her thoughtful reading for her piece titled “For Colored Girls” speaks about her inspiration from Missy Elliot saying, “Feminism wears a throwback jersey, bamboo earring.” This poem went viral in 2015 and caught the eyes and ears of Missy Elliot herself and she reached out to Haze. Elliot went and surprised Haze at her house after reaching out to her. One of the lines from the poem goes, “If you ask me why representation is important, I will tell you that on the days I don’t feel pretty I hear the sweet voice of Missy singing to me Pop that, pop that jiggle that fat” praising Missy Elliot for her confidence.
Back in 2006, Haze was the Grand Prize winner of the V-103’s “Got Word” Youth Poetry Slam and she has been writing ever since. Receiving plenty of recognition, she has been published in three national publications. She has also performed at plenty venues across the country. In February 2016, she released a full-length collection of poems, “Land of the Living” in a live one-woman performance at Apache Café in Atlanta. On her website, she has a list of 10 accomplishments that she’s had throughout her time performing poetry.
Passionate, funny, and inspirational are just a few words to describe the performance Wednesday night. As she effortlessly speaks her poems, you feel her passion in her voice. You can feel the sincerity, as if she is directly talking to you in conversation. She often stops during the performance to get her audience involved, telling small jokes and asking questions. Her friendly, welcoming personality shines through when she speaks her poems.
Ashlee Haze, you were amazing! Thank you.