There was excitement mixed with hesitation among the poets at Dagny’s, the hesitation in sharing one’s innermost feeling and thoughts in poetry with others, some who were friends and some who were stranger.  Excitement also in that it was a contest with four poets being recognized with awards.

On Saturday November 21, 2015 poets and friends came together at Dagny’s Coffee for an open mic hosted by the Taft College Literary Magazine Club.  Alex Victoria, the editor of the club’s magazine,  A Sharp Piece of Awesome, was the emcee for the event.  Victoria said that it was a way to promote their magazine and also to accomplish one of the club’s mission to spread and encourage culture and literacy in Kern County.

The event was judged by a panel of published, local poets who selected the first, second and third place.  The criteria were originality in use of words, the poetic expression and ability to connect with the audience.  There was also an award for people’s choice, based on the response of the other poets and friends of poetry.

Geoffrey Dyer, professor of English at Taft College, was the faculty sponsor of the Taft College Literary Magazine Club.

The first place winner was Liz Greynolds who read from her poem “6:00”.  

A few of the lines are:

“That’s where I saw it first.

I sat and watched it – the light

Until the sun got snagged on it and dragged it behind a mountain

And I was left in the unlight of a desert where dark was tangible and colors

Existed in memory”

Greynolds was inspired by a simple moment in her life. “The poem was originally a diary entry that I jotted down really quickly while lying in my bedroom and being awestruck by the way the sunlight was coming in,” she said. “It reminded me of a dream I had where I watched the sunset in a desert. I knew my phone wouldn’t be able to do it justice in a picture, so I tried to use my words instead. It was turned into a poem months later, and it’s one of my favorites to read aloud.”  

Greynolds has been “writing poetry since middle school” and began to “identify my writing as poetry until about a year ago when someone else referred to it as poetry. . . I’m inspired by the things that are all around us, like light and nature.”  She likes “writing that creates a setting and places you in it using delicious language, and poetry is my favorite medium to do so.”

The People’s Choice was won by Mariah Bathe who read a poem after an encounter with an employee of a food establishment after her divorce.

  “I am not and will never be the girl looking for someone to affirm her outward appearance for edification

    No thank you

    Because I’d rather spend a thousand years weeping in front of my ex-husband who has more respect for me in his right pinkie finger      than you did those two minutes.”

Mariah has “always had an interest in poetry and had the desire to write since a young age but it wasn’t until recent that I felt the freedom to actually act on it.”  For Mariah, poetry becomes “a form of release for me in times of heartache or trial. It helps keep my head and heart unburdened.”

The other two awards went to Zack Alqaisi for the second place and Shawn McQuilliams for the third place.