First Friday Open Mic – September 1, 2017
Story by Shanna O’Brien
Photos by David Serrato

YIPPEE!! It was another wonderful evening at the Kern Poetry open mic night held at Dagny’s Coffee Shop.  The room was brimming with poets and musicians anxious and excited to share their revealing creations. All were shown appreciation with enthusiastic attention and applause.

The featured Bakersfield artist was a new musical group called “Moon Spirits,” who mesmerized us with their dreamy and captivating melodies and lyrics.  Watch out for their performances around town and you’ll agree they are HOT.  Below is a little insight into the band given by guitarist José M. Lopez:

Please name everyone in your band and tell us what instrument they play.

Aramy Scrimshire – guitar, vocals
John Lanier – piano, vocals
Felix Lopez Jr –  drums, guitar, beatbox, vocals
José M. Lopez – guitar, beatbox, vocals

How did you and band come up with the name “Moon Spirits?

After much trial and error of picking interesting words out of a bag we finally combined the words “Moon” and “Spirit.” It resonated with us due to our profound love of the Moon and our Vibrant Spirits.

What is the intent of your music and what type of audience do you hope to reach?

We all have different intents with our music but one we could all agree on is to truly express ourselves and the songs we compose to the best of our ability. Every song we create is like a Wave that hopefully ripples out and brings whatever the worlds people may need for further growth as human beings.

As leader of the band, when did you start playing the guitar and what inspired you to write songs?

I wouldn’t necessarily say I am the “Leader” of this band. Leaders are chosen and as far as I can tell they have never named me their leader. I began playing with the guitar when I was very little however, it was more of an off and on relationship so I’d say with regards to total hours played, it must be under a year’s worth of guitar practice.

The Beauty of the Universe inspired me to write songs. My first song was about a girl I met during a field trip. Although I was a freshman looking at college campuses and she was a tour guide, I could tell our connection was genuine. Her small entrance into my life was mirrored by her even more rapid departure and I couldn’t help but write my High-School single named “Sweet College Girl.” It was in Spanglish to further express how our bilingual conversation was the most beautiful I’ve ever had.

Are there any musical influences that inspired your band’s direction?

No. Well none that we are consciously aware of at least.

After “Moon Spirits” finished their performance, the evening opened up to poetry and one of the most interesting poets was Mandy Anderson whose pen name is Rainy Dawn. Below is Mandy’s fascinating poem followed by her insightful interview:

 Who Asked Your Fucking Opinion
by Mandy Anderson (Rainy Dawn)

Short shorts, miniskirts, short black dresses

You know what these have in common?
Because wearing any of these means baring skin

It means someone thinks you want to be sexual
It means you must be a girl, only girls wear these

It means put some damn clothes on, you are practically naked! 

Girls who bare skin are the easiest to get. 

Chokers wrap around her neck, space buns up her hair two tones of purple
She has a black belt in taking blows to the face
She must like it rough, BDSM is her thing
When did self-expression turn into an open door

Of others belittling those trying to find a place in this world

People who are trying to find themselves
NO.. I am not a slut because I love the way the sun kisses the uncovered parts of my body
NO.. I am not a slut because I love the way these shirts amplify the curves of my body
Chokers are just decorations I add to this empty canvas I have been given
My hair becomes my art project when i suddenly need change
Oh and last thing..
Who asked your fucking opinion anyway?


What are you trying to communicate with your poetry/art – and in particular the poem from first Friday?

Most of my poetry or writing in general has one theme; acceptance – whether that be acceptance of oneself, gaining acceptance or learning to accept all the differences in the world. I write a lot about the things no one wants to talk about. My poem “Who Asked Your Fucking Opinion” has to do with a trend I’ve seen as well as have been pulled into. Memes in the social media world are making it so much easier for bullies to attack. Girls are constantly being specialized. Boys can’t dress like girls and girls can’t dress like boys everything is based on this preconceived gender role we were given without a choice. If you wear a choker you must be a slut. Girls can’t enjoy their unique bodies they have been given. They are constantly being told to feel ashamed. Ashamed of their sexuality, their body, told to hide it away. Only guys are allowed to like pleasure and be open about it. Guys can bare skin and now (not)  feel ashamed. My poem is a girl reclaiming her self-image and being proud.

What does “being creative” mean to you? 

Creativity to me means seeing the world through many different lenses at a time and from many angles, taking those different images and putting them out for the world to view. It’s take rawness and bring it to the surface of life. Anything can become a story for a writer; painters can incorporate many different colors showing you details that they can see. Creativity is believing in a world we can’t see. It’s connected to our imaginations. We work with our surroundings and bring it to life in a dream world.

Do you have any creative patterns, routines or rituals?

Meditating is extremely important for me; it allows me to quiet myself and my surroundings. Doing so allows my thoughts to be less all over, allowing them to flow and it’s reflected through my writing. I also love going to things that inspire me. Watching slam poetry on Button Poetry has become a big part of my routine, along with reading R.M. Drakes work on line.

Is there a time when you first realized that creating was something you absolutely had to do?

I was a freshman in high school. Growing up I was taught to hide my emotions. I had a hard time learning how to express how I felt. Writing was my door to the outside world. While I couldn’t speak verbally about how I felt sometimes, writing always got me through it. I knew I had to have my voice heard and to be a voice for the voiceless. I also wanted to bring some happiness back into a mad world.

Do you have any advice to share about how to be more creative?

Listen to your mind, body, and spirit. Only you can truly learn from yourself when it comes to creativity anything else is just tools to help guide you.

Do you have a favorite thing you’ve ever created?

My daughter will always be my favorite creation if we are being technical, but in the art world I am currently putting together a book that I am extremely proud of.

Are there other creative mediums you would like to pursue?

I would love to spend more time painting! My girlfriend and daughter paint all the time!



Although all performing poets and musicians were captivating, another who caught my ear was poet Caleb Coley, a tall handsome young man, who recited his poem “Black and Lonely.”  Please enjoy his poem below followed by his thoughtful interview:

 Black​ ​&​ ​Lonely
by Caleb Coley

 I’m bad at makin’ friends,
My eye contact is unwavering,
Like a black hole somebody told me.
I either talk too much or not at all,
I go off on like 12 different tangents when I try to tell a story.
I’m very pretty, that’s no lie,
But girls don’t like me, and shit like that is probably why.
I’m quite tall, I guess that intimidates people,
When I can reach the top shelf, they get mad that vertically, we’re not equal.
I get afraid to open up to people,
I feel like that big ass book in the back of the library that no one wants to read.
I don’t know how to approach people,
So in my free time, I kinda just workout and eat.
This is a pretty sad story but I’m keepin’ it lighthearted,
If I feel myself about to cry, I’ll just point out that that girl farted.
That’s not nice, but see I do that, I’m mean cuz I’m scared,
I got these walls because I’d hate burden to bear.
So I ride solo, like Han with no Chewy,
I’ll never get my princess Leia,
I’m just a little too spooky.
Now I’m talking about Star Wars and I lost where I started,
Before I get choked up, don’t forget, she farted.

What are you trying to communicate with your poetry/art – and in particular the poem from first Friday?

My art is not only a reflection of the reality I live in, but also the different realities that I dream of. My poem on First Friday was, simply put, one of many cries for help.

What does “being creative” mean to you? 

Being “creative” gives you the power to build worlds out of thoughts. It’s a superpower to me.

Do you have any creative patterns, routines or rituals?

My entire being more or less revolves around my creativity, so there are no patterns or rituals. I just do.

Is there a time when you first realized that creating was something you absolutely had to do?

I’ve been drawing since I could pick up a crayon, writing ever since I learned my first word. I guess it’s in my blood.

Do you have any advice to share about how to be more creative?

My advice would be to not think about it while simultaneously thinking about it all the time subconsciously. You’ll know what that feels like once you start to master it. Everything you need to be creative/a creator is already within you.

Do you have a favorite thing you’ve ever created?

I’m forever in a constant battle to outdo myself, in every aspect of life. So I guess my favorite thing I’ve ever created is the person I am in the current day, because I always make sure that I’m a little bit better than I was yesterday

Are there other creative mediums you would like to pursue?

I want to do everything I can. I wanna act, write, sing, rap, learn instruments, paint, etc. My main goal in life though, the one I’m working towards as we speak, is that I want to write and star in my own film franchise. I wanna create a world for future generations to escape into.


Please come back again and get to know more of our wonderful poets and musicians who participate in the Kern Poetry First Friday event at Dagny’s.  Everyone is different yet we’re all the same, wanting to express what’s in our hearts.