So tonight I attended a Jersey City Slam competition- I participated in a workshop led by Jacob Victorine (pictured) and I even got the chance to judge the semi-finals (along with a couple other judges)! I was a little nervous to judge, honestly, being more of a “page poet,” but I went with my gut, and was pleased to see Erin Anastasia win. I like her spunk. Full disclosure: I met Erin a few days ago and will be working on a creative project with her (stay tuned!), but I don’t think that interfered with my judging- I hadn’t seen her perform before.
Jacob Victorine and Will Gibson were the featured poets. I enjoyed speaking to Jacob a bit before the event and thought he ran the workshop well, using an excerpt from the Triggering Town. My favorite poem out of the ones he read was It’s Like There’s Ash Everywhere. It reminded me of the 9/11 aftermath when I was in college. My own experience was a bit more remote than the speaker of the poem, having attended The College of NJ at the time, but I do remember going into Manhattan less than a month after the disaster and visiting the Islamic Wing of the Met. The air still smelled like burning rubber, but the mosaics were beautiful. It was a strange, sad experience, to live through 9/11 while dating a Muslim and studying Islamic Art and Literature… Jacob’s poetry took me back to that time, but with wonder and reverence. My favorite line was “some kids saw the planes / and bodies / and think they’re still falling.”
Will Gibson’s (pictured) poetry was powerful, too, and as I’m looking through his collection Harvest the Dirt, I’m struck by a poem about NYC entitled I Couldn’t Make It There: “New York felt like / Atlantis before the / water came.” Haunting.
Perhaps it’s a little odd that here I am in New Jersey, connecting with these poems about NYC, but I did live there for 9 years. I’m happy to call Jersey City home now, though. Oh, and another great place to get poetry from both sides of the Hudson is the Cross Poetry Review reading! They have an event coming up on May 8th at Porta– check it out!