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June 02, 2005

Betcha Jesse Ventura Would've Signed That Bill

by Ron Hogan

Minnesota shall have no poet laureate. Because, Governor Tim Pawlenty told St. Paul Pioneer Press reporters, he worried "this will lead to calls for similar positions. We could see requests for a state mime, interpretive dancer or potter." Yeah, right, that could happen. Lord knows New Jersey was overrun with that sort of thing before Amiri Baraka screwed the whole laureate system up for everybody.

Actually, I was a little more put out by the comments from local poet and editor Richard Broderick, who reacted to the crowd that came to see Ted Kooser last April in Minneapolis by complaining, "I think highly of Ted as an individual and a poet, and we've published a lot of his work at Great River Review. But I don't like what that event said about the culture of celebrity." Me? I'm just happy to hear that nearly 1,000 people went to a poetry reading, so the event can say whatever the hell it wants about celebrity after that. I gotta admit, though, Coffee House Press senior editor Chris Frischbach has the right idea: "The best thing people can do is read and buy books of poetry and go to readings. That's more important than whether there is a poet laureate."

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