Colorado Springs poet Ashley Cornelius capped off an impressive 2017-18 poetry season by winning the Hear, Here! Poetry Women of the World Poetry Slam Qualifier in late January.
She started the year by winning the inaugural Hear, Here! Poetry Slam at Ivywild Gym and is our featured poet for March. Since claiming the 2018 WOWPS title, Cornelius has been preparing for the international poetry event, set for March 14-17 in Dallas, Texas.
We caught up with Cornelius to talk poetry, Colorado Springs and more!
How is your preparation for WOWPS going?
Prep has been exciting, I have the poems that I’ll perform and am working on editing and tightening them up so that I can put my best foot forward.
The editing process has been interesting and helps me fall in love with my poems all over again. I am grateful to Susan Peiffer for her mentorship and support while editing.
What does it mean to you to rep the '719' in Dallas?
I am so honored to represent Colorado Springs. I’ve written poetry for most of my life and would often sit in the back of open mics and never get the courage to sign up. Winning WOWPS qualifier was a huge step for me, and I share this to say that all it took was me signing up and I know there are so many amazing poets who may still be nervous to share and to them, I want to say you can do it and that it's worth it!
I am nervous every time I perform but I know that my words are meant to be heard and can help others and myself in the process. I’ve grown up in Colorado Springs and I’m proud to represent my community.
You've had quite a year in poetry! What's your next goal?
My next poetry goal is to continue to perform in the community with my poetry, speaking engagements, work to provide workshops and continue my work with poetry therapy. I also want to create a book of poetry so that I can create a legacy of my work.
If someone in Dallas learns one thing about you or Colorado Springs from your WOWPS performance, what do you hope they glean?
I hope that people learn that as a woman of color in Colorado Springs I am representative of a whole community of marginalized voices that are speaking up and using platforms to make a change. I want people to know that my experiences are valid and that poetry is a way in which I am an activist. WOWPS is an amazing opportunity where poets can come and share their stories, their struggles and I am beyond honored to be one of them this year!
"I would often sit in the back of open mics and never get the courage to sign up ... I know there are so many amazing poets who may still be nervous to share and to them, I want to say you can do it and that it's worth it! "