Sol-Legacy Magazine

2nd Issue

March 2024

Welcome to Sol-Caritas' captivating exploration of the minds of extraordinary individuals. In this exclusive interview, we invite you to delve deep into the thoughts, experiences, and perspectives of Neo2Rize, a person whose story is both captivating and inspirational. Join us as we embark on a journey to uncover the intricacies of her life, her passions, and her aspirations. Together, we'll shine a spotlight on her unique insights, accomplishments, and the wisdom she has gathered along her remarkable path. Prepare for an engaging conversation that is sure to leave you inspired, enlightened, and eager to draw from the well of her extraordinary journey.

Introducing the First Lady of the Sol-Poetry Family

Ashlie M. Young aka Neo2Rize

Neo2Rize, how did your poetry journey begin?

I penned my inaugural poem at the tender age of seven, amidst the solemnity of my Great Grandmother’s funeral. Writing has been my solace since as far back as memory serves. Though my formal foray into creative writing began with school classes, it wasn’t until the age of nineteen that I stepped into the realm of performance poetry. A Liberal Arts assignment at Texas Southern University nudged me towards this path. Tasked with attending a live performance and documenting my experience, I found myself at G’s & Z’s, nestled in the heart of black Houston. The open mic poetry night I stumbled upon was nothing short of transformative. Captivated and emboldened, I penned two pieces upon returning home, diligently committing them to memory for the next show. Despite my initial hesitation, the allure of the mic drew me to Mocha Life Café along the same Almeda strip. Finally summoning the courage one fateful night, I stepped onto the stage, and from that moment forward, I’ve been enraptured by the electric thrill of performance poetry.

Could you tell us about the key themes or subjects that frequently inspire your poetry?

Advocacy, a fervent passion for people, purposeful poetry, and life events—all these themes spring to mind when I contemplate what truly ignites my creativity and influences my writing. I firmly believe in the intersection of advocacy and artistry; it's this fusion that serves as the driving force behind my poetry, reflecting the issues and experiences that resonate deeply with me.

Many poets have unique rituals and routines when they write. Could you share your creative process and any specific habits that enhance your writing?

To be candid, I find my best poetry emerges effortlessly, without any sense of forced inspiration. These are the moments when verses flow naturally, unencumbered by the constraints of specific subjects or themes. While I do sometimes engage in themed poetry, I often find myself drawn to the raw spontaneity of unstructured creativity.

When I do embark on themed poetry, I typically immerse myself in instrumental music—LOFI beats or tracks by artists like J. Dilla, Robert Glasper, or E. Jones—setting the mood for my creative process. Yet, it's those unexpected moments that truly stir my soul. Whether it's composing verses in my mind while navigating Houston's notorious traffic or waking abruptly in the dead of night with lines begging to be written down, these instances are not bound by any rituals. They feel like divine intervention, as if God is channeling inspiration directly into me in the form of poetry.


How has your poetry evolved over time, and what role does it play in your life today?

When I initially delved into performing spoken word, my primary focus was on self-healing. Consequently, my poetry largely revolved around introspective explorations of my personal life experiences. However, as I embarked on this journey of self-discovery and growth, my writing naturally evolved. I transitioned from introspection to observation, from writing solely about myself to delving into broader life events and societal issues.

This shift has mirrored my journey through adulthood and womanhood, reflecting not only my personal growth but also my increasing awareness of the world around me. My poetry now delves into topics that transcend individual experiences—issues like eradicating homelessness, advocating for equitable and affordable medical services, and championing women's rights and empowerment. These are causes that extend far beyond my own existence, yet they deeply resonate with me and shape my perspective on life.

By addressing these pressing issues through my poetry, I aim to use my voice to serve others—a purpose that I believe defines my existence. My poetry becomes a tool for advocacy and social change, allowing me to contribute meaningfully to the world and fulfill my purpose in life.

Do you have any memorable or particularly meaningful experiences related to your poetry?

Performing at Jones Hall was a watershed moment for me, evoking memories of another transformative experience from my past. It harkened back to my teenage years in Atlanta, GA, where my aunts and grandmother treated me to my first stage play, 'Save Me From my Secrets.' Although I can't recall every detail of the play, the overwhelming feeling it left me with remains etched in my memory. I was captivated, teetering on the edge of my seat, enveloped in a whirlwind of emotions. In that moment, a seed was planted I knew deep down that I wanted to pursue a similar path someday.

The lights, the laughter, the palpable energy coursing through the audience—I longed to evoke those same sensations in others. When I stepped onto the stage at Jones Hall for our first rehearsal, the air crackled with excitement. Standing in that grand space, I felt minuscule yet connected to something vast and profound. It was a privilege to share my artistry on such a prestigious stage, surrounded by the echoes of countless dreamers who had come before me.

This experience was profoundly humbling, serving as a poignant reminder of the privilege and responsibility that comes with being an artist. It's a moment I cherish deeply and one that fuels my determination never to take such opportunities for granted.

Can you share some of the challenges you've faced during your journey and how you've overcome them?

a. Challenges with my poetry have mostly manifested in seasons of writer’s block rather than external factors. Initially drawn to spoken word for its healing and community-building potential, I've found the landscape evolving into a competitive arena, diverging from its original ethos of embracing humanity over ego.

b. Life's responsibilities often overshadow opportunities for creative expression. Balancing daily stresses with the desire to write can feel overwhelming, leading to a perpetual cycle of convincing oneself there's never enough time. Overcoming this personal challenge has been a defining aspect of my poetic journey.

Activism often requires collaboration and networking. Can you share some of your partnerships and collaborations in your work and how they contribute to your success?

a. As a dedicated advocate within the social services sector, I've channeled my passion for community empowerment into my poetry. With a background in Psychology, I've been profoundly influenced by the stories and struggles of those I've encountered throughout my journey. Through my spoken word, I strive to shed light on pressing social issues, from encouraging voter participation to amplifying voices at conferences on homelessness. Collaborating with public health agencies, advocating for healthy sexual behavior, and supporting women's rights are just a few of the causes close to my heart. My aim is to use poetry as a vehicle for spreading awareness and inspiring action, leaving a positive impact on the world long after I'm gone.

b. In the spoken word community, I believe there are individuals who engage with pure intentions of healing, fostering community, or serving altruistic goals. When poetry is used not merely for visibility but to amplify voices and educate both the performer and the audience, it becomes a powerful tool for social activism. Over time, spoken word platforms naturally evolve into spaces for education and awareness, ultimately shaping individuals into social activists through their craft.

What role do you believe technology and social media play in modern activism, and how do you leverage these tools to your advantage?

a. In an era where technology and social media dominate our lives, the question arises: is this shift beneficial or detrimental? While the accessibility of information and the ability to freely express ourselves through platforms protected by the 1st Amendment are undeniable advantages, the impact of social media on activism and the dissemination of information is a double-edged sword. It's crucial to consider how we engage with these tools and what legacy we leave behind in the digital age. Social media can immortalize our memories and thoughts, but it's up to us to shape how we want to be remembered.

b. I firmly believe that if you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything. I aspire to be remembered as someone who fought for justice, love, and human rights—someone who left behind a legacy of positivity and upliftment through my artistry.

c. To combat the negativity and superficiality rampant on social media, I've created Moments of Impact (MOI). These are the moments that inspire me amidst the noise of fake news and trivial trends. Through MOI, I strive to share poetry, positivity, and impactful moments that resonate with me, contributing my sprinkle of modern activism to the digital landscape.

d. As the founder of HERIZONE, I've established a creative platform dedicated to empowering individuals to reach their highest potential every day. HERIZONE merges artistry and advocacy, with a particular focus on empowering women worldwide. More than just a brand, HERIZONE is a movement—a beacon of positivity, sisterhood, and celebration of womanhood, encouraging all to rise and thrive.


Can you share a success story or a specific moment in your activism that you feel had a significant positive impact on your community?

My journey in the social services field began as an outreach counselor at the Houston Area Women’s Center, where I had the privilege of working with survivors of domestic and sexual violence. In addition to traditional counseling methods, I introduced poetry as a therapeutic tool in group sessions. Through these sessions, we explored mindfulness techniques while writing, creating a safe space for healing and self-expression.

Listening to the stories of survival from these brave women, each coming from diverse backgrounds and experiences, profoundly impacted me. Witnessing their resilience and participating in their healing journey left an indelible mark on my soul. These moments not only transformed me as a woman but also deepened my understanding of humanity and empathy. They serve as a constant reminder of the power of compassion and the resilience of the human spirit.

Do you have any mentors, professors, or individuals who have had a specific impact on your personal growth?

My Husband. My Parents. Our Girls. My Circle.

My circle of family and friends holds a paramount place in my life, shaping my personal growth and providing unwavering support through every twist and turn. They offer unconditional love, keep me grounded, and stand as my rock through life's most transformative moments, be they personal, professional, or spiritual. In times of triumph and challenge, they remain steadfast, embracing every facet of my being with unwavering acceptance. Their presence has been a constant source of strength and inspiration, anchoring me through life's ebbs and flows.

On an artistic level, I've drawn inspiration from a diverse array of talents, ranging from encounters with lesser-known artists to iconic figures in the industry. Rapsody, Missy Elliot, and the Floacist are among my favorite female artists whose poetic prowess I deeply admire. Their lyrical genius and creative vision have left an indelible mark on my artistic journey, fueling my passion for expression and creativity.

What advice would you offer to aspiring poets who are looking to find their own voice and style in the world of poetry?

"Don’t write the poetry, allow the poetry to write you." This profound advice resonates deeply with me, reminding me to surrender to the creative process and let inspiration guide my pen. I've learned the importance of immersing myself in literature, reading voraciously to enrich my vocabulary and absorb the wisdom of literary masters. It's a journey of self-discovery and growth, where I'm continually evolving as both an individual and an artist.

Finding your artistic identity takes time and patience. It's okay not to have all the answers right away. Embrace the phases of growth, both in life and in art, knowing that each stage contributes to your journey. During moments of doubt or writer's block, remember that what is meant for you will always find its way to you. Stay open, stay receptive, and trust in the divine timing of your creative process.

Ultimately, the essence of poetry lies not in the applause or recognition it receives but, in its authenticity, and resonance with your own soul. Each poem you write is a reflection of your unique perspective and experiences, a gift from a higher source. Honor that gift by staying true to yourself and sharing your truth with the world.

Reflecting on your academic and extracurricular activities, is there a particular accomplishment or project that you're especially proud of?

As the Manager of Landlord Engagement with the Coalition for the Homeless-Houston/Harris County, I have the privilege of hosting the annual State of Homelessness Conference. This gathering brings together philanthropists, funders, and agency partners invested in ending homelessness. Each year, we assess our progress toward the goal of making homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring, while also acknowledging the challenges that remain.

One of the highlights of the conference is when I open the event with a poem. It's a moment where art meets advocacy, as my words resonate with the audience on a deeply emotional level. I witness tears, smiles, and a renewed sense of purpose in the room. It's gratifying to know that my poetry moves the very individuals who have the power to effect change in our community—the decision-makers and funders who hold the resources to make a difference. Additionally, my poetry serves to reignite the passion of our change agents already committed to the mission and movement to end homelessness. It's a humbling and rewarding experience, knowing that my artistry contributes to advancing our collective efforts to create a more just and compassionate society.


Are there any upcoming projects or events you'd like to share?

a. As a dedicated member of the Sol-Poetry team, I'm thrilled to be part of our ongoing efforts to write, perform, and collaborate on events throughout Houston and its surrounding areas. With a show produced every other month, you can catch me onstage at least six times this year, sharing my poetry with our vibrant community.

b. In addition to my live performances, I'm currently hard at work on my poetry book and audiobook, titled 'HER•I•ZONE,' slated for release later this year. This project is a labor of love, a culmination of my creative vision and personal journey captured in written and spoken word.

c. Excitingly, I'm also launching the HER•I•ZONE website, a digital platform brimming with motivational products and accessories designed to inspire individuals to rise to their highest selves every day. It's a passion project aimed at empowering others through creativity and positivity.

d. On the cinematic front, I'm eagerly anticipating the premiere of the first film produced under Sol-Productions, titled 'A House Without a Father,' scheduled for release this March 2024. It's a project close to my heart, and I can't wait to share it with audiences.

e. And looking ahead to the fall, mark your calendars for the premiere of 'Skulls & Butterflies,' another captivating film from Jalaworld Productions. It promises to be a mesmerizing cinematic experience, and I'm honored to be part of such a groundbreaking project.


A House Without A Father (Official Trailer)


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