Photos by Victor M. Rodriguez
There are any number of indicators of a town’s evolution from industrial hub to hip hometown. Take Bayonne. It used to be that you could get a cappuccino only at our fine Italian restaurants. Now lattes and macchiatos and au laits and mochas and chai teas and smoothies and wraps and bowls can be found at dozens of spots around town.
And those condo buildings going up near light rail stops? They’re filling with young working people who commute to Manhattan. And how do they get there? Soon it will be by ferry from a terminal on MOTBY. And how will they get to the ferry terminal? By CitiBike.
All these changes bespeak a city on the cusp, on the move, and ripe for poetry and rap and spoken word.
Enter open mic night at the museum.
Apparently the idea for open mic night at the Bayonne Community Museum stemmed from a conversation between DPW Superintendent Tim Boyle and Mayor Jimmy Davis.
“We have sports leagues and visual arts, but an urbanized community with 70,000 people was lacking something,” Boyle says.
There are plenty of open mics in the area for standup comics, but what about spoken word events for poetry, rhymes, and raps? Not so much, and Boyle wanted to fill the void.
If it’s Tuesday …
The event is held the second Tuesday of each month from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Dors open at 6. The museum provides a public space for “family-oriented” material, and light refreshments are served.
One performer who has made it to open-mic Tuesdays is Marc Surujballi. Marc, who plays guitar, had been attending open-mic events in New York City and Jersey City.
“I decided to check out the Bayonne Museum,” he says. “There weren’t too many people, maybe eight, but that was a good start. There are some talented people in Bayonne. There was a good feeling, they were liking my poetry and rap. It was a good start for Bayonne.”
Marc has lived in Bayonne for most of his life. He attended Woodrow Wilson School and Bayonne High School. He is currently majoring in business and minoring in music at NJCU.
“I’ve always been inspired by the arts,” he says. “I played the clarinet and sang in the choir in middle school and high school. I did a little bit of everything, including dancing in college.”
His music inspirations include the Beatles, Bon Jovi, the Jonas Brothers, and Green Day, among others.
He hopes to one day run a recording company and perform part-time.
That arts background provided a good foundation for his current interest in poetry and rap.
“Spoken word is very popular,” he says. His own poetry “describes family and relationship struggles, my relationship with parents and ex-girlfriends.”
Both Boyle and Marc are hoping that participation picks up in the fall when school starts again, and people are back from summer vacations.
“People will probably want something to do on weekdays,” Marc says. “It’s open to anybody. They can come and perform and test out their skills.”—Kate Rounds