N.J. Senate Advances Bid To Oust Controversial Poet


The New Jersey state Senate last week took a step toward ousting embattled state poet laureate Amiri Baraka when it voted to eliminate the post. The vote was 21-0, with 19 abstentions. The measure now goes to the state Assembly, but it is not clear when or if that body will take action.

As a backup plan, senators are considering a resolution to censure Baraka, who caused an uproar last year when he read his 9-11 themed poem "Somebody Blew Up America" at a poetry festival.

The poem has been deemed anti-Semitic because it implies that Israel knew in advance of the terrorist attacks and warned its citizens to avoid the World Trade Center on that day. Baraka, who has a reputation for sparking controversy, denies those charges.

The state’s poet laureate cannot be removed from the two-year post, and Baraka has rejected Gov. James McGreevey’s calls to resign.