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Saturday, May 16, 2009

“is that it’s a place of many places.”

KEVIN COYNE writing in The New York Times, attempts to explain why the state of New Jersey is so rich with successful poets of late. He points out that W.S. Merwin's Pulitzer Prize for poetry makes the fourth such poet to win the prize in the past 10 years and he says this is a streak that is unmatched by any other state.

Coyne reports that another of New Jersey's Pulitzer Poetry winners, Stephen Dunn thinks he knows what what it is about the state that has given their poets this edge. “New Jersey’s gift to its poets, is that it's a place of many places."

It seems there are 566 municipalities compressed together in the state with a total population about equivalent to that of New York City.  There are in fact more municipalities in the state per square mile than in any other state in the nation. Lots of places provide a treasure trove of places to write about. Each with their own history, their own landscape and so on.

As I read Coyne piece and thought about Stephen Dunn's remarks, I am once again reminded how much emphasis place can have on poetry.  Poems are like a snapshot. A story stopped in time. The have a place in time and a geography all their own. I do believe Stephen Dunn is onto something here.

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