Ode to a Banned Book

20 Oct

At the Wednesday, October 14 Banned Books event at Woodland Pattern Book Center, ACLU of Wisconsin Youth and Program Director Emilio De Torre donned a costume in the spirit of Geoffrey Chaucer and welcomed the audience for an evening of live reading of banned books. His opening poem on the theme of censorship set the tone for the evening of humor and a celebration of literature…

“On behalf of Woodland Pattern Books and the ACLU of Wisconsin, welcome to our Banned Book Event. We are most pleased you soudry folk are here in support of intellectual freedom, to raise awareness of censorship — and to promote the free exchange of ideas.”

“turn over the leaf and choose another tale”
Ladies and Gentlemen, scholars, students and rogues,
I pray thy mercy for my New York brogue,
For although the guise of Geoffrey Chaucer I wear,
It is not MY dulcet tones that you’ve come to hear,
Nor my pinched verse, kitchen prose or gutter rhyme,
Rather, the immortal men and women who’ve taunted time,
With works of art, beauty and thought,
That even now influence what we’ve wrought,
Their printed words filling schools, libraries and nooks,
Brave drafters and authors of the printed word —- Books.

Sadly, some would have us burn our literary friends at the stake,
And force us to read only their unique take,
Denying young folk access to vital information,
Whilst wielding the torch of intellectual cremation.

And although some may balk and blow their fuses,
To see books writ to other Gods, reason, or Nine Muses,
Let us not to the marriage of true minds impede,
Our Bodies Ourselves, or Voltaire’s Candide.

Where’s Waldo, Scary Stories, Lord of the Rings?
Is NOW the time to purge pagan, agnostic and atheist things?
Strike from these lists Morrison, Chbosky, and Hemmingway,
You CANNOT censor a theme ’cause it’s black, brown or gay!

Schindler’s List, Beloved, & The Great Gatsby.
Lolita, Ulysses and Tango Makes Three,
Baby Bebop, Atlas Shrugged, Go Tell it on the Mountain!
Native Son, Winnie the Pooh, even the Maltese Falcon…

So I put it to all of you my dear friends,
To boldly our 1st Amendment rights defend,
We cannot let others rob parents of the right to decide
With loutish attempts at self-righteous libricide.

Over time and in other places,
McCarthy, Genghis Khan, the Spanish Inquisition,
Have sought to suppress thoughts,
And hold civil liberties in submission.

But if you’re inspired by the words that you hear,
And censorship makes YOU tremble with rage and with fear,
Then gift envelopes can be found in the rear,
5 dollars for students, otherwise 20 per year.

You can follow up on Emilio’s invitation to membership by joining the ACLU of Wisconsin.

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