Rashad Wright '12 named Jersey City's poet laureate

Kudos to Jersey City for giving poet voice, platform

Source: Jersey Journal Editorial

atorres@jjournal.com

Thanks to Jersey City and its arts council, a young poet’s voice now has a broader reach.

Last month, Rashad Wright, 24, was named the city’s first poet laureate in more than a decade. He brings an already impressive body of work to the two-year position, which is still in the formative stage.

A recent graduate of New Jersey City University and a member of the National Guard, Wright told radio station 101.5 that he started writing poetry as a student at Marist High School in Bayonne.

His verses are intricately designed with twists and turns, challenges and surprises. And his slam performances of his works are riveting.

In “Ode to Basketball,’’ he describes the game as an “urban symphony of body language’’ and “eloquent soliloquies with a ball and a net.’’

In societal commentary “Monsters,’’ he writes: “What is being black if not being like a monster movie waiting to happen? A movie to never have a sequel. A scene to be cut out of a script. I can be typecast into playing a hashtag at any moment.”

In prose piece “Between Lines,’’ about his identities as a Guardsman, civilian and poet, he tells us: “As a poet, it feels like the souls of black folks fire through my lips.’’

Poetry isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, which is why encouraging and celebrating performance art like Wright’s – works that pull you in and make you listen – is so important.

Wright will receive a $3,000-a-year stipend during his term, which some have questioned. We see it as a fitting token of respect and appreciation and certainly not something to quibble with in a more than half-billion-dollar budget.

Wright has said his mission is to improve lives through the power of the spoken and written word.

“At the end of his term, Rashad will be a better poet, and Jersey City will be a better place,’’ Edvige Giunta, one of Wright’s former professors at NJCU, told The Jersey Journal.

We look forward to seeing how Wright molds this opportunity.