In downtown Riverside, the cafe bar Back to the Grind hosts an open mic every Monday at 6:00 p.m. This event is free and has a multitude of great coffee drinks you can try.
Back to the Grind is a cool, scenic coffee spot that has been open for more than 20 years. This hidden gem is known for its many events like chess night, paint night, science night, and so much more, but its most popular event is an open mic. On the contrary, attending and just enjoying the event is free.
Kim Ashley attended Back to the Grind’s open mic night. She is a 48-year-old woman from Compton, California, who works at a recycling business. She started poetry in her twenties and fell in love with it ever since.
“What inspired me to start poetry was my inner healing from my bad past,” said Ashley.
Ashley’s inspiration for her poetry came from the support of her mother.
“I grew up watching my mother struggle with four children. My mother had to work two jobs to keep all of us happy; her struggle made me want more for myself in the future and that really prompted me to find something I love doing,” said Ashley.
Ashley shared her first poem called “hair full of roses.” It was about her insecurities and inability to see success like how others would. According to Ashley, the hair symbolizes a bush, and the roses symbolize growth. The overall message was flowers bloom when they are ready and not when a person wants them to.
Ashley shared some of her biggest struggles with finding her true passion.
“My biggest struggle was finding my true self in my early twenties. I was stuck doing drugs for a short period of time,” said Ashley.
Ashley related this struggle to her poetry in a symbolic way through her hair.
“I wanted to follow a bad group of friends who weren’t doing anything but keeping me down. One day I let go of them, went to rehab, went to therapy, and never looked back,” said Ashley.
Hearing her say this while in my twenties gave me so much inspiration for my future. It made me feel like we, as a younger generation, forget we have so much time to turn our lives around to still do what makes us happy. Even if you cannot find what makes you happy right now, you will eventually with time.
Ashley also shared some of her favorite things about writing poetry.
“There are no limitations to poetry, I can be my full self however I want to be in my writings,” said Ashley.
Ashley also shared that talking about a personal topic made her nervous but excited and proud of the work she has done as a poet.
Meeting Ashley made me happy to go to this open mic. A coffee bar can be a welcoming place that opens up opportunities to meet new people.
Overall I loved the event, the music performances and spoken words were great.
I also enjoyed interviewing the wonderful Kim Ashley I met that night. Her story was truly inspirational, and it touched base with me and how I should never give up on myself.
While parting ways, she said she was thinking about releasing a poetry book of all the poetry she ever read. She didn’t know what she would name it, but it was her next biggest goal. Until then, she said she will be at the open mic for anyone interested in her poems.
Without a doubt, I encourage people to go to this bar to meet strangers, enjoy the atmosphere and be a part of the live music. You never know what you will learn by simply being in the moment.
If you are a contestant who wants to sing a few songs or even say some poetry, there is a 4$ admission, but all are welcome according to Back at the Grind staff.
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