I have been around the Jersey City art scene for less than a year, and yet it feels very much like home. I came to the area like many people do, in search of exploring the arts in New York City. Traveling from Vermont originally, it was my misconception that the only real art scene in the area was in New York. However, I feel that in many ways, what is going on in Jersey City right now is much more dynamic. The willingness that the artists of this community have to help one another, as well as to explore subjects and ideas which might not normally be their cup of tea, is extremely refreshing.
I have the privilege of being a member of The Waterbug Hotel, and it is amazing how much the community responds to the events we do. I have watched as our little poetry reading has taken on a life of its own, as poet after poet comes to have their voices heard. It is quite amazing how many people of different cultural and religious backgrounds are able to come together and express their human experiences. Only in a place as open-minded as Jersey City can one find a poetry reading that has a young rapper perform, only to be followed by a middle-aged blues singer covering a Johnny Cash song. It is this dynamic that makes the energy of Jersey City so fresh and organic.
As a poet myself, I have had the chance to read in salons, restaurants, bars, private apartments, and many other locations not traditionally associated with poetry. The reason for this is that the inhabitants of Jersey City have an unquenchable thirst for all that is creative. From art openings to acoustic music, there is no lack of creative energy. What makes this all the more remarkable is that there is an extremely limited number of venues for artists to display their wares. Yet this only adds to the art scene's charm.
Both Jersey City and the country as a whole are in somewhat turbulent times right now. It is of the utmost importance at this point in time to cultivate the arts here in Jersey City. The message of peace and harmony that resounds throughout the artist community of J.C. is something that everyone should hold dear. It is impossible to tell what the future of Chilltown holds, but for now, I am grateful to be here, and grateful to be a part of this thriving community. - Middlepoet, The Waterbug Hotel, Jersey City