The Soul of Newark’s Ferry Street: João Martins’ poetry

In these days of globalization, it’s a challenge to find a street with some soul, with some substance. Now even the big cities like New York, have the same old shops. Pharmacies like Walgreens, CVS and Duane Reade are on every other block. These places, along with Subway, Qdoba Mexican and the famous Starbucks are just as prominent in American cities as they are in the shopping and strip malls and the suburbs.

However,  a street, an avenue and even a city can inspire love, creativity, e nostalgia, if it has a “soul.” According to João Martins “Ferry Street” of Newark, New Jersey, has a soul!  A Portuguese one at that.It’s the center of Portuguese culture in the city. It’s a little slice of Portugal that stimulates memory, artistic innovation, communication, love and saudade–it has a soul.

On November 11, Mr. Martins recited from his body of work. He spoke of many ideas–and about his love of Ferry Street–at Villanova University, near Philadelphia. Martins is a member of the  Sport Clube Português, a cultural center in Newark, and is collaborating on the following project: Rua da Palavra Ferry Street. Martins and other artists of lusophone descent are creating a work that combines, fado, music, text and painting. Amazing! Linked because of their immigrant experience and the fact that they speak Portuguese, I believe that this is a new artistic and/or literary movement. The poets and writers of  Ferry Street periodically get together at the Sport Clube to recite and read from their works, to captive audiences. On other occasions, the fado singers come out to entertain the Ironbound public!

Some of Martins’ poems, remind me of João do Rio‘s work, a writer from turn of the century Brazil. João do Rio wrote of the soul of the city of Rio de Janeiro, which at the time was being torn apart due to further urbanization. For sure, Ferry Street has a soul–overall a Portuguese soul, but it opens up and embraces other people, cultures and languages.

To find out more about Ferry Street Rua da Palavra: