PATERSON, NJ - In the mid-20th century, William C. Williams wrote poetically about the history, people, and essence of Paterson. On Saturday, with the Paterson Courthouse as the backdrop, many talented young poets were heard and celebrated during the inaugural Paterson Poetry Festival contest.   

Talena Lachelle Queen, the city’s Poet Laureate, and organizer of the Paterson Poetry Festival, told TAPinto Paterson the event was an opportunity to “bring artists and scholars together as we do our athletes and musicians.”

“When you think of Paterson, we want to change the news feed to focus on the positivity of the Paterson community.”

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The day was packed with art, music, and performances, notably from the young artists who were selected as the winners of the poetry competition. These artists, each representing categories from high school, grades 6-8 and grades 3-5, had the opportunity to share their poems with the assembled crowd. All of the performances including Jennifer Guizer’s, Rosa Parks High School of her poem “Face of Beauty”, “Sleep No More” by Nathaniel Muñoz, School 18,  and Edward Easterling’s “Even Though we Speak Different Languages,” represented the great potential of Paterson’s growing art scene.

In congratulating the student winners prior to the event Councilwoman Dr. Lillisa Mimms, who helped initiate the judging panel that included members of the council’s Education Committee as well as the Board of Education said that “our children are our future, we must continue to empower, enlighten, and invest in them!”

Nathaniel’s mother Tina Cruz said she was very proud to see her son acknowledged for his poetry while Board of Education Commissioner Manny Martinez offered that he appreciated the opportunity to share his own poetry.

“It feels good to be in the same city that world-renowned poets like Allan Ginsburg and William C. Williams performed and to share my poems that talk about Paterson, to the people of Paterson, because I am also from Paterson.”

Martinez’ colleagues Oshin Castillo and Vincent Arrington also attended the event and expressed their excitement while 5th Ward Councilman Luis Velez said that he was “encouraged to see our young students engaged in such creative ways that support the educational growth of our children.”

Also featured during the festival was a "poetry slam", a competition in which poets perform spoken word poetry. Paterson resident Jordan Henry was the win claiming a $250 cash prize.

Rosie Grant, Executive Director of the Paterson Education Fund, offered kudos to the organizer acknowledging that “events like these promote literacy in children that will help them express themselves as they grow.”  


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