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  • I was cleaning up old files on my computer and there is was. An old photo I had taken years ago during a writing residency in England. I was in Britain to finish work on a series of stories for my MFA program. I stayed in an old converted abbey about an hour outside London. And on a day off, I took the train into the city to explore. I had been to London before, but this time I wanted to just hang out in a pub, a bookstore, walk around in Chelsea.

    Although my goal was to just "be" in London, I had never been to Westminster Abbey to see the Poets' Corner. That had to be on my agenda.

    Dylan Thomas is not buried in the Poets' Corner like Geoffrey Chaucer, Charles Dickens, or Robert Browning, but he is memorialized there, as are many others. And this got me thinking about the way Americans memorialize our authors and poets. There is no Poets' Corner in the United States. In fact, consider the statues, the memorials, we erect in the United States. Most are of generals, soldiers, presidents, or sports figures.

    When I was in Dublin years ago, I couldn't help notice there were memorials, busts, and statues of James Joyce nearly everywhere you turned. And when I came to London, more of the same. I am a fan of Thomas, mainly due to the oral interpretation of his poetry. He had an incredible presence and a magnanimous voice. So his memorial, among the others in this crowded corner of the Abbey, was most inspiring to me.

    But when I left Westminster and on the train out of London, what was on my mind most was this: Why America doesn't have its own Poets' Corner, its memorial to our most American authors, poets , artists - Hawthorne, Poe, Whitman, Frost, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Kerouac? What does this say about us, about who we are?
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