Roderick “Odd?Rod” Borisade, a spoken-word poet, has starred in commercials and published three poetic biographies about his life struggles. Though he was raised in poverty with a drug-addicted mother and absent father, he attended North Florida University and graduated in 2005.
He will perform “Odd?Rod: One Night Only” at 7 p.m. Monday in IC Square, sponsored by the Office of Student Engagement and Multicultural Affairs.
Staff Writer Candace King spoke with Borisade about his inspirational story.
Candace King: What inspired your nickname, “Odd?Rod?”
Roderick Borisade: It was from upbringing. I had humble beginnings. I had a real rough childhood. My mom was on drugs, and my father was not around. In 1996, my older brother at the time passed away from brain cancer. I decided to go in a positive direction in a negative surrounding, which was odd and different. And I just took the name myself and named myself Odd?Rod. I feel like I defeated the odds.
CK: What influenced you to write poems?
RB: I was listening to Tupac when my life changed. My brother died in 1996 and so did TuPac Shakur. He had a video that came out on TV, a song that came out called “I Ain’t Mad at You.” When I looked at the video, it was like my brother was standing next to me — he’s watching me. I need to live for him because I felt like if I died with him by going to jail, selling drugs or killing myself, that would be two deaths. I felt like I would have did him an injustice. He didn’t have a chance to live his life. What good would I be if I was living mine negatively or living in a way that I wasn’t living?
CK: You call yourself a “poet for the people.” What do you mean by that?
RB: I don’t make it my business to use the biggest words. When I speak, I want the people to remember me when I leave the stage. I want them to know who I am, rather than know that I was good with words. I know honestly that I have a big following just because of being a poet for the people. I know that they get something from it because I feel like I’m one of them.
CK: What can Ithaca College students expect from your performance?
RB: I’m funny. I’m hilarious. I got jokes and life stories, and then I have the poetry, and then I tell my story. Students that are sitting in there with a problem that they’ve never said to anybody or never mentioned to anybody will identify with me. I don’t put myself up on a pedestal like I’m a star. I feel like I’m a student. I’m right there with you guys.
CK: What is your next step?
RB: I have a children’s book out called “Buddy and Birds.” It’s all about cultural diversity. It’s a book of rhyme. It’s about two kids that meet in school and become great friends. That is doing well — it’s on the iPad and the iPhone. I’m going to bring out a brand new CD with less curse words on it. I just want a full clean CD that I can sell anywhere. I have grown, and I want to show that growth. My writing has even gotten better. I haven’t started that one yet because I’m trying to get used to all this touring and being away from home. Seeing all you guys is all I’m excited about — just seeing and affecting people. The money is the last thought, but the effect that I am going to have on the future is priceless to me.