Story by Portia Choi

There was extraordinary excitement at the First Friday Open Mic on November 4.  There was a standing-room only crowd.  That wasn’t all.  There have been other evenings with persons where persons stood to listen to poets perform their word creations.

Maybe it was that Mateo Lara, one of the regular performers at the Open Mics, was the month’s featured poet.  Mateo’s poetry has expanded over the year and a half since he began sharing his words with the poetry community.   Mateo’s first book of poetry, “Keta-Miha and other Poems”, is filled with self-discovery.  An excerpt from a poem is:  “you shivered through terror and trance, and beside this fear, I don’t want you anywhere near my gold…”

Whatever it was, the evening reflected the right combination of elements for an evening  for sharing one’s poetry with the community.

There have been other poetry open mics in Bakersfield.  The First Friday Open Mic at Dagny’s started on February 7, 2014.  It seems to have brought together the right mix for poets to express themselves.

The place was certainly right.  Dagny’s Coffee is the sublime local coffee house.  It is welcoming and relaxed:  so comfortable it feels like a second home.  There is an area with a sofa. It has a living room or a den homey feel.  There are areas for concentration for grading papers, or for writing one’s journals.  There is a place for group activity for musical jamming or for spiritual discussions.  The cashiers and servers are always friendly, smiling when bringing out the expresso, varied coffees or pastry.

The day and time was right.  First Friday in downtown Bakersfield is the happening for artistic expression, whether visual or musical.  There are street vendors with crafts and bands playing.  The art studios have their openings on First Friday.

Poetry as a language and performance art and found a home at Dagny’s.  The Open Mic has added to the festive atmosphere of the creative community.

First Friday Open Mic occurs each month at Dagny’s at 6:00 pm.  Sign-in to perform is at 5:50pm.  Each month, except for the summer months of June, July and August, there is a featured poet or a musical group performing their original creations.   Dagny’s is located at 1600 20th Street (corner of 20th and Eye St.)

For more information, contact Portia at or (661) 717-1346.