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  • Writer's pictureChris Rockwell

Poetry in the Port Celebrates Six Years of Morally Corrupt Magic

This past Saturday night, in a tiny, unassuming coffee shop in Matawan, New Jersey, a large and very assuming crowd gathered to celebrate the sixth year of Poetry in the Port, a reading series that features established poets and an open mic. Hosted by Damian Rucci since its inception, this event originated at the now defunct Espresso Joe's coffee house on West Front Street in Keyport. Since then, Brandon Castro at Brew on Main Street in Matawan has opened his doors to the poets, attracting a swarm of talented writers from across the state and beyond.

As a host, Rucci promotes inclusion and diversity when booking his featured acts, but at the end of the night, he turns the mic over to the crowd, inviting the attendees to showcase their own work; and what a crowd it was. I was grateful enough to be presented alongside a lineup of New Jersey legends such as Cord Moreski, Miriam Kramer, Tohm Bakelas, Rebeca Weber, and former Jersey City Poet Laureate Rashad Wright. Also in attendance were Soup Can Alum Poets Blush Ellis and Sam Rubinstein. Each of these poets with whom I shared the mic was capable of carrying the entire show on their shoulders alone, but combined, they formed a kind of collective incantation, calling to the crowd to dust off the parts of our hearts we don’t use as often as we should. However, the chills crawling up and down my arms throughout the evening culminated as Rashad Wright recited his poem "Black Runner Boy", while, by some unfathomable and uncanny mischance, police cars sped by outside the window behind him, sirens blaring. The moment inadvertently made palpable the backdrop of police presence in the life of a running black man in America. Poetry brings out the truth in us all, whether or not we're up for it.

There is unquestionably something brewing in Matawan, and you can catch Damian Rucci and his rowdy troop of troubadours traveling between any of three venues every month throughout Monmouth County. Brew is located at 133 Main Street in Matawan, NJ. To follow Damian Rucci, follow @damnianrucci on Twitter and Instagram, or just look to the parking lot of the nearest 711 because he’s likely outside bumming cigarettes off people.

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