Artist In Focus: Ashlee Connors

She writes because she knows what it’s like to be broken, she speaks because she knows what it’s like to be silenced, she shares because she knows her gift is meant to be shared.

In a sea of T-Shirt and jeans, this fashion-forward poet stands out… At first glance, one would assume Ashlee is about to walk the runway. But when she walks to the mic, the crowd is in for a treat. Stitching stanzas, weaving wordplay, and hemming rough topics in her poetry, she delivers a one-of-a-kind brand.

Ashlee Connors is a poet based in Greensboro, NC. Her style has been described as unique, raw, yet uplifting to the spirit. Since she was eight years old, writing has proved to be her safe place. Because of her Caribbean roots, Ashlee never gave much thought to writing being a viable career. She graduated from Georgia State University with a Bachelor’s in English with the intention to study law. Being introduced to the works of Shakespeare, Maya Angelou, and Zora Neale Hurston, she knew law wouldn’t be her career. Ashlee Connors credits her creative rhetoric to her advanced life experiences. Ashlee inspires many with her writing by tapping into the emotional chambers of the heart and appealing to what the audience needs to hear.

While her family was stationed in Fayetteville, NC, she encountered a spoken word event at the Coffee Scene. She first appeared on that stage in 2014 but was stricken by fear; it was in October 2015 before she decided to confront her fear by entering a slam, a form of performance poetry that combines the elements of performance, writing, competition, and audience participation, in the local Fayetteville area. She hasn’t looked back since. Ashlee became confident in her voice and began to understand writing wasn’t just a hobby. She has performed on various stages from Atlanta, GA, to Raleigh, NC.

“My poetry takes a critical view of identity, relational, and cultural issues,” says Ashlee. “My work aims to explore the navigating of quixotic beliefs and unlearning what has not been of benefit to my growth as an artist. I have been moved to mentor others to walk in their authentic truths. Poetry informs while exploring the times we live in, and the Slam community has been a huge influence on me and my work. I create workshops, curate writing prompts, and host one-on-one coaching sessions.

The mission of Wild Seed Slam is to preserve slam culture in the city of Greensboro through education and the arts. I emerged into the Slam scene in 2016 and immediately noticed the absence and erasure of women’s voices and stories. Because of these experiences, I started a monthly slam in Greensboro called Wild Seed Slam, inspired by Octavia Butler’s novel Wild Seed. In the novel, we see the protagonist, Anyanwu, heal others, heal herself, and is essentially a shapeshifter. My peers and I have often discussed the burden and blessing it is to hold such power, fixing everyone else and somehow still having the strength to mend ourselves.