Thursday, 30 September 2010

Roses From Dark Places - Banned Books Week 2010 (Continued)

Sometimes, just sometimes, good comes out of bad.  Since I wrote my last post I have been overwhelmed by the responses I have received on a personal level, both from the book community and from the wider world outside it.  It has, at times, made me very emotional.  Scribble City Central has has had well over a thousand visitors in just a few days (a lot for a blog such as this) and the number is growing by the hour. Yesterday I was interviewed by Alison Flood of The Guardian newspaper, who wrote this article, bringing the #SpeakLoudly campaign to the attention of British readers, and that has now been picked up by the Huffington Post in the USA too.  So right now, I would just like to thank all of you who have taken the time to visit and comment here, on Twitter, on Facebook, on #SpeakLoudly and elsewhere--you are wonderful, and it means a great deal to me. 

The thing which has really overwhelmed me, though, is the private emails I have had from so many women, telling me their own stories of abuse as children and teenagers.  I will not tell you what they said--I do not intend to break the confidences I have been entrusted with.  However, they all had one thing in common which I can reveal.  Each told me that 'I'm not as brave as you. I'm not brave enough to speak out'.  I want to say this to them.  They were brave.  They were brave enough to write to me. And I will try to be another voice for them, along with Laurie Halse Anderson, Cheryl Rainfield, Ellen Hopkins and the myriad wonderful writers of YA and other fiction all over the world who continue to let the sunshine into the dark places of abuse and fear and shame and guilt and enable the roses to grow. I'd like to leave you with Ellen Hopkins' wonderful poem on the subject of book banning from her article in today's Huffington Post.  It says it all, really.


To you zealots and bigots and false
patriots who live in fear of discourse.
You screamers and banners and burners
who would force books
off shelves in your brand name
of greater good.

You say you're afraid for children,
innocents ripe for corruption
by perversion or sorcery on the page.
But sticks and stones do break
bones, and ignorance is no armor.
You do not speak for me,
and will not deny my kids magic
in favor of miracles.

You say you're afraid for America,
the red, white, and blue corroded
by terrorists, socialists, the sexually
confused. But we are a vast quilt
of patchwork cultures and multi-gendered
identities. You cannot speak for those
whose ancestors braved
different seas.

You say you're afraid for God,
the living word eroded by Muhammed
and Darwin and Magdalene.
But the omnipotent sculptor of heaven
and earth designed intelligence.
Surely you dare not speak
for the father, who opens
his arms to all.

A word to the unwise.
Torch every book.
Char every page.
Burn every word to ash.
Ideas are incombustible.
And therein lies your real fear.

© Ellen Hopkins 2010
PS: If you would like to join the fight against book banning, please sign up to SPEAK LOUDLYThe more who join in, the more powerful our voices will be.  And if you think that small things don't make a difference, just try going to bed with a mosquito in the room.


Lee Wind said...

Yay! Thanks for getting the word out - I love Ellen's poem.

gardenwitch said...

Thank you for the poetic expression of censorship and your great interview. I sooo agree with you.Why must all children be deprived of a good book because one person doesn't like it.

Lucy Coats said...

Namaste to both of you--and very glad you liked Ellen's poem. Mark Twain said something like (and I am quoting VERY loosely here), "why should a grown man be deprived of steak just because a baby can't chew it?" I now gather that Prof Scroggins is well-known in his home town for the sort of bigoted utterance which we have now all read about. He is entitled to deprive his own children of 'book steak' if he must, but not anyone else's.

Jan Markley said...

I heard Ellen speak at the Bologna SCBWI symposium this year and it was great. I participated in Banned Books week by posting a review of two banned books on my blog!

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