Poet Laureate of New Jersey

The Poet Laureate of New Jersey position was created on October 4, 1999. Gerald Stern was appointed first New Jersey poet laureate on April 17, 2000, by Governor Christie Whitman. The second poet laureate, Amiri Baraka was dismissed after reading his poem "Somebody Blew Up America" at the September 2002 Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival. Some thought the poem was antisemitic and that it supported the theory the that the United States knew about the 9/11 attacks in advance (see 9/11 advance-knowledge debate), based on the following lines:

Who knew the World Trade Center was gonna get bombed
Who told 4,000 Israeli workers at the Twin Towers
To stay home that day
Why did Sharon stay away?

Governor Jim McGreevey asked for Baraka to resign, but he refused, stating that the poem was intended to be critical of Israel, racism, and militarism, not of Jews. Because there was no way to legally remove a poet laureate, on October 17, 2002, a bill was introduced to the New Jersey Senate that eliminated the position entirely only three years after it was created.

Famous quotes containing the words poet and/or jersey:

    The worst tragedy for a poet is to be admired through being misunderstood.
    Jean Cocteau (1889–1963)

    To motorists bound to or from the Jersey shore, Perth Amboy consists of five traffic lights that sometimes tie up week-end traffic for miles. While cars creep along or come to a prolonged halt, drivers lean out to discuss with each other this red menace to freedom of the road.
    —For the State of New Jersey, U.S. public relief program (1935-1943)