Editor's Introduction

With great pride, we introduce the premiere issue of The Trenton Review.

We hope that this journal will lend a creative voice to a city that is in the process of revitalization and that it provides another crucial contribution towards the promotion of the arts in the greater Trenton area.

The arts are crucial to the vitality of any community. While developers, politicians, community leaders and small business people work towards a strategy for Trenton’s financial and social health, we hope that they will recognize the importance of the writers, painters, musicians, sculptors, photographers, poets and other creative visionaries who have chosen to make central New Jersey their home. A community of artists is the voice of an on-going collective dream. It articulates the higher aspirations and deeper insights of every member of that community.

We decided from the beginning to capture the full spectrum of creative life in and about the city of Trenton: literary, poetic, musical, cinematic and visual talents. We didn’t have to travel far to find it: The Passage Theater, The Trenton Film Festival, ArtWorks, The War Memorial, The Old Barracks, The New Jersey Network, The Trenton Downtown Association, Gallery 125, Classics Bookshop, Café Olé, painters laboring in their studios, writers hiding in their office cubicles, poets living at the YWCA, novelists disguised as computer hackers, engravers observing their faith at the Quaker Meeting House, photographers posing as cardiologists, and creative visionaries biding their time in the corner bar.

This issue has the distinction of presenting two poems by Yusef Komunyakaa, a distinguished professor from New York University and a Pulitzer Prize winning writer and playwright, who has graciously consented to reprint two poems from his extraordinary Dien Cai Dau (Wesleyan Press, 1988), a collection that boldly recounts his experiences during the Vietnam War.

We are proud to print Mr. Komunyakaa’s poems in the same volume as those written by seven Trenton High School students, all of them previously unpublished. They are speaking from a different battlefield, the landscape of inner city urban violence, an issue with which Trenton struggles. We are honored to let these young people speak their truths.

While the chosen theme of this issue is Peace And Violence, we have given considerable space to the cultural phenomenon of graffiti. This is because we believe graffiti to be full of peaceful solutions. To illustrate this, we have showcased the art work of Leon Rainbow, a Trenton resident who is an important figure in the regional rebirth of graffiti, and the photography of Jon Naar whose work documented graffiti back in the 1970s.

The section on legendary Trenton night club City Gardens is from a work in progress by Amy Yates Wuelfing. To many people, City Gardens defined their youthful Trenton experience but is now a part of city history. These excerpts feature anecdotes and historical testimonials by Mickey Ween of the rock band Ween, Gibby Haynes the lead singer of The Butthole Surfers, and others who remember the fearful night when the Surfers first came to Trenton. Any one who would want to contribute to this oral history of Trenton arts is invited to contact the author via this journal.

From Trenton’s musical past to its artistic future, this journal is dedicated to capturing the spectrum of creativity in our midst.

Richard Behrens & Eric Maywar, Fall 2009
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