Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Award-winning poet, Ashlee Haze, reads to students over Zoom

Tuesday, November 17, 2020
Ashlee Haze is an award-winning poet. Having been writing for 15 years, she writes and performs free verse poetry that gives her the nickname, “The Big 30.”
Photo submitted by Joanna Shaver

Becoming a published writer is difficult. Becoming an award-winning writer is even harder. Ashley Haze accomplished both. Haze is a published poet with the nickname “Big 30,” which she earned by being able to get a perfect score at poetry contests she attends. On Nov. 10, Ashlee Haze read her poetry to students in the UC Ballroom, which students could attend for free with their student ID.

Haze is a successful poet in the slam poetry community. Poetry slams are competitive art events, where poets perform their pieces in front of a live audience and a panel of judges. After a poet performs their poem, judges give a score between zero and 10. The scores are based on both content and delivery. At the end, the poet with the highest score is declared the winner.

At the reading, Haze read excerpts from her new poetry book, “Smoke.” The poetry in the book is free verse, which is what Haze said she wrote most often when she first began writing poetry, writing what was on her mind. To be an accomplished writer, Haze recommends listening and reading to what others have made.

“I always tell people to listen more than you speak and to read more than you write,” Haze said. “So every poem you want to write, you should be looking at what a writer who doesn’t look like you is saying.”

The night of poetry readings and Zoom calls was set up by Raven Cole, president of Sigma Gamma Rho, and Joanna Schaver, student activities council advisor. Schaffer said they listened to Haze before and were happy to set up another event with her.

“She is a genuine person,” Schaffer said. “The kindness and giving life advice about hydration and telling someone they’re dope, that’s just who she is. I appreciate that [her personality] comes across even with her not being here in person.”

Students who went to the event received a free copy of Haze’s book, “Land of the Living.” "Land of the Living" and all of Haze's other work can be found on her website,