The lights dim as the audience waits in quiet anticipation for a poet. The spotlight is turned toward the stage, pointing to a solitary microphone. It is dark but intimate, a moment where performers can be himself or herself among the crowd.
Richard Damon S. Blacksher, senior English major, was 13 years old when he had his first poetry reading. His brother, Anthony, was hosting a college event at California State University at San Marcos, an event Blacksher and his parents attended.
Blacksher said he was nervous at the beginning of his performance, but the energy of the crowd provided him with the courage he needed to continue in his reading.
“Coming offstage, (I) knew that this was something I could see myself doing for the rest of my life,” Blacksher said.
He said he did not begin to fall in love with the art of poetry until he witnessed his brother enter the poetry scene while in college. Watching his brother and other poets perform onstage is what inspired him and his poetry.
However, Blacksher said what inspires him today is his life.
“The poems I’ve written are all about things I’ve gone through,” Blacksher said.
Poetry enthusiast Mike Teruel, a graduate assistant at California Baptist University, said he has never attended a live poetry session but hopes to do so in the near future.
Teruel said the closest he has been to performing was rapping in public. His inspiration and interest in poetry began as a sophomore in high school when he started listening to Lil Wayne.
“He’s one of the most talented emcees to touch hip hop,” Teruel said. “When I first started listening to him, I was fascinated and drawn to his ability to tell stories through metaphors, allusion and creative rhyming. I found my love for poetry as I discovered the art of messaging through hip hop.”
Since attending CBU, Blacksher began performing at places in Riverside, such as The Depot and Back to the Grind.
He heard about these places through some of his musician friends and missed being away from the major poetry houses he attended in San Diego and Los Angeles.
According to The Depot’s website, they perform at The Box in Riverside, which is near the Fox Performing Arts Center.
Tickets are $5 pre-sale and $10 at the door.
The Depot is open to poets, dancers, musicians and singers. If interested in participating in a poetry session or even performing music, sign-ups are online.
Back to the Grind has poetry sessions every Monday at 9 p.m. The event is free for both the observer and performer.
If interested in performing, no experience is necessary. However, to be on the list, readers must show up half an hour before the event is scheduled to begin.