In April 2020, Art House Productions began collaboration on the Jersey City Community Poem project and received submissions from 42 poets with the theme: “Life in the Pandemic and Beyond: Quarantine, Devastation, and Hope for the Future.” Jersey City Poet Laureate Rashad Wright then curated the pieces into one crowdsourced, community poem entitled "Just Breathe". 57 performers, including Jersey City officials, local artists, and many of the credited poets filmed themselves orating different stanzas. This is the completed video montage of "Just Breathe" that premiered at Art House's Virtual Access JC Fridays on June 5th.

This project was sponsored by The City of Jersey City and the Office of Cultural Affairs. 

To read the poem "Just Breathe" and all of the submissions in full, please CLICK HERE


 Contributing writers:

Elizabeth Barry, Paula Borenstein, Laura Boss, Jessica D'Onofrio, Kaileah Daniels, Crystal Davis, LouLou deVallance, Erin Enriquez, Chris Garrahan, Deirdre Garrahan, Danusha Goska, Gia Grillo, Joe Herman, Nicolas Hornyak, Eza Iqbal, Shrujana Iyer, Abdul Rehman Khan, Mel Kozakiewicz, Aurelia Luciano, John Massett, Sean Miste, Leonora Obed, Patricia Olsen, Alisha Park, Suzanne Gili Post, Andrea Ragone, Dimitri Reyes, Hara Rola, Danny Shot, Mark Skrzypczak, Megha Sood, Sneha Sundaram, John T. Trigonis, Ann Wallace, Risa Wallach, David Williams, Alicia Wright, Rashad Wright.

Performers: Elizabeth Barry, Michelle Bellamy, Laura Boss, Dorian Bryant, Meredith Burns, Maria Connors, Michael Costanzo, Jessica D'Onofrio, Miranda Dahl, Crystal Davis, MA Enriquez, Gavin Flinck, Myles Flinck, Athena Flora Toledo, Lynnette Freeman, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, Christine Goodman, Millie Gonzalez, Kimberly Goycochea, Katelyn Halpern, Jack Halpin, Rachel Handler, Lynn Hazan, Nico Hornyak, Brett Iarrobino, Amanda Jones, Angela Kariotis, Annie Kessler, Rich Kiamco, Jersey City Councilman Rolando Lavarro, Courtney Little, John McGinty, Andrea McKenna, Nancy Mendez-Booth, Alex Pergament, Sam Pesin, Jersey City Councilwoman, Mira Prinz-Arey, Abdul Rehman Khan, Dimitri Reyes, Jersey City Councilwoman Denise Ridley, Paul Silverman, Deb Sinha, Megha Sood, Harmonica Sunbeam, John Trigonis, Kyiana Vargas, Gretchen Von Koenig, Ann Wallace, Heather Warfel, David Williams, Rashad Wright, Alicia Wright, Elena Zazanis.

Rashad Wright is the poet laureate of Jersey City, New Jersey. He is a graduate of New Jersey City University, receiving his BA in English: Creative Writing. Rashad’s poetry has been heard from both local and national stages via slam poetry. He is the only person to be titled the “Grandslam Champion of Jersey City Slam” twice. He has competed in Slams in Oakland, San Diego, Spokane, and Denver, once ranking 25th in the country. He has coached Jersey City Slam, the UACHS Poetry Club, and 6th Borough Slam whom placed 10th in the world at Brave New Voices 2019.

Rashad’s creative works focus on debunking the glorification of selflessness and sacrifice in communities of color and other disenfranchised groups. Rashad’s work gives visibility to a “self” in an attempt to reclaim the love that these identities deserve.

He currently is the host of ManaMic, Jersey City’s biggest open mic series and has published a fusion of memoir and poetry titled Romeo’s Whiskey. Instagram
Photo: Gerald Jacques