View Full Version : "Goodbye, Baraka!"

07-02-2003, 10:50 AM
(1010 WINS) TRENTON, N.J. State lawmakers voted Tuesday to eliminate the position of poet laureate of New Jersey an effort that began after Amiri Baraka wrote a poem suggesting Israel had advance knowledge of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The Assembly approved a bill Tuesday that passed the Senate in January. Gov. James E. McGreevey, who cut off the $10,000 annual stipend that goes to the poet laureate after Baraka refused to resign, intends to sign the bill, according to a spokesman. After Tuesday's vote, Baraka said he would sue the state for violating his First Amendment rights and for slander. ``Very few of those people have even read that poem,'' Baraka said. ``I can't have a differing opinion about a foreign state?''

Abolishing the position was the only way to remove Baraka because the governor and Legislature cannot fire the poet laureate. Democratic Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein, a sponsor of the bill, said the poet stepped over the line. ``Baraka certainly has the right to write his poetry,'' she said. ``But Baraka used the position as a jumping off point for his own political motives. All under the umbrella of his position as New Jersey's poet laureate.'' The post of poet laureate was intended to celebrate such New Jersey poets as Walt Whitman, Joyce Kilmer and William Carlos Williams.

07-02-2003, 11:25 AM
It's just as well the position was abolished. I mean, who wants to read poetry about New Jersey, for God's sakes.

"I think that I shall never see/A poem lovely as a smokestack" just doesn't do it.

Robin, who is glad she's safely ensconced in Pennsylvania.

07-02-2003, 02:37 PM
Poets can't experss opinions! Art is supposed to be boring, detached, purely academic drivel only doctoral candidates can enjoy as they suck the soul out of it by overanalyzing its metaphors and structure! :p

In other words, blah.

07-02-2003, 04:18 PM
One has to sympathize with NJ however, given that Baraka's opinions were based on nonsense. He chose to accept what amounts to a state sponsored position. Both the poet and the state share a certain amount of responsibility. The poet, as he knew his poem would run counter to the sensibilities of the vast majority of the state. The state for choosing someone they should have known would voice opinions they did not countenance.

07-02-2003, 05:38 PM
Also, of course, he is a really, really bad "poet," which the NJ officials should have been able to spot much earlier . . .

07-02-2003, 05:47 PM
OK, on this one I'm in complete agreement with Eve.

07-02-2003, 05:47 PM
I didn't think Walt Whitman had much really to do with New Jersey, except for dying alone in Camden.

07-02-2003, 06:45 PM
More often than not, "bad poet" is a redundancy.

Little Nemo
07-02-2003, 10:38 PM
Damn, if I had known there was ten thousand bucks in it, I'd have applied for the job.

Ode to the Garden State

There once was a state called Noo Joyzee
Some say it is stinky and noisy
But don't put it down
Cuz it's the hometown
Of a lot of Mafia Boys, see?

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