No joke. Elizabeth, N.J. And Bayonne. And Carteret. And maybe even Port Elizabeth and Ho-Ho-Kus and Secaucus. Joe Weil’s a great poet. It’s taken the rest of the world too long to notice, but Joe Weil — product of the streets of Elizabeth — sees beauty even when its face is smudged and dirty, hears music in cries of sorrow, sees greatness in the ordinary, finds songs in his heart when there appears to be no reason to sing, write poems about Elizabeth that remind me very much of my old hometown of Yonkers, N.Y., and turns his gritty city into a place of sad stark beauty inhabited by the ghosts of sad beautiful human souls who still walk those streets and abide in Joe’s memory. Listening to Joe Weil talk about poetry and about Elizabeth, N.J. and listening to him read his poems…it makes you understand more clearly what Springsteen meant when he sang about that opera on the Turnpike and the glow from that giant Exxon sign.
So check this out. Here’s a link to a special broadcast recently by New Jersey Network, the state’s public television channel, about Joe Weil: