Tag Archives: libraries

One Day

“One Day” originally appeared here in 2015, https://kmorrispoet.com/2015/12/23/one-day/. A friend subsequently commented to me (in person, not on this blog), that the poem could equally apply to both readers and writers. He had a point. However I had writers/authors in mind when I penned the piece, hence my poem stands as originally written.

Kevin

Advertisements

Banning Books

A couple of weeks ago, I fell into conversation with a librarian. During the course of our conversation she mentioned that the library does not stock books which their readers might “find offensive”. This exchange got me thinking about how one defines what constitutes “offensive”, and whether something being so classified is a sufficient reason for not allowing it on to the library’s shelves.

The great English author and poet, Rudyard Kipling is loved by people of every race and creed. Yet a number of his writings would, in today’s society be considered “offensive” by many. Take, for instance his poem “The Stranger” which begins thus:

“The Stranger within my gate,
He may be true or kind,
But he does not talk my talk –
I can not feel his mind.
I see the face and the eyes and the mouth,
But not the soul behind.

The men of my own stock
They may do ill or well,
But they tell the lies I am wonted to,
They are used to the lies I tell.
And we do not need interpreters
When we go to buy and sell”. (http://www.kiplingsociety.co.uk/poems_stranger.htm”.

The message of “The Stranger” is, in effect that people of different races should not mix (I.E. the black should stick to the black, the Asian to the Asian and the white to the white”. This is not a view I share and I can understand why many people find Kipling’s sentiments highly offensive.

“The Stranger” can be found in any complete collection of Kipling’s poems. Given that most people (including me) find the sentiments expressed in the poem offensive, should libraries not stock complete collections of Kipling’s works on the grounds that readers may be offended by them?

To answer the above question we need to stand back and look at “The Stranger” from the perspective of the time of it’s composition. The poem was written in 1908, at a time when many Englishmen (of all political persuasions) held views which we would, today regard as racist. Kipling believed that Britain had a duty to look after what he (in “The White man’s Burden” terms as “lesser breeds without the law”. This was not (as with the Nazis), a belief that those with white skin had the right to enslave or exterminate those of darker skin. Rather it was a paternalistic (and to us today) patronising view. It was not, however an uncommon opinion (as stated above) and was (as previously mentioned), widely held by Europeans at that time.

To banish “The Stranger” from library shelves would be a deeply illiberal act. Educated adults can employ their judgement and understand the historical context in which “The Stranger” was written and (without in any way justifying the message of the poem) appreciate the musicality of “The Stranger”.

One of the problems with defining what is offensive, is that what I may find offensive my friend Jo Bloggs may find perfectly acceptable. For example some religious people wish to see books which (in their words) “promote homosexuality” banished from libraries. They regard gay sex as immoral and believe that those who engage in it (or, via books, the media etc “promote”) it are ungodly. This is not a view I share, however those holding it are entitled to do so. What they are not entitled to do is to foist their opinions on others. If you don’t approve of a particular book, don’t read it, but don’t dictate to others what they can and can not read.

In conclusion, adults should be treated as such and not as children who need to be protected from reading something which may “deprave”, “offend” or “corrupt” them. Its perfectly possible that some of the views which are, today mainstream may, in the future be considered as “offensive”. I trust that, if this does transpire, that the librarians of the future will treat adults, as adults and not as children.

I would, of course be interested to hear your views and, in particular those of any librarians who may read this post.

Kevin

How to Promote Your Books

14033201 - bright idea concept, glowing lightbulb with word idea on grey background

Free Image Licensed from 123RF Stock Photo – Copyright amasterpics123

How best to promote one’s literary masterpiece, is an issue which exercises the mind of many an author, including my own. In the spirit of reaching out to my fellow authors I thought it was high time for me to set out my thoughts on this most important of topics. Below are some suggestions which will, I hope prove helpful to those who labour over smoking hot keyboards:

1. Climb Nelson’s column and recite passages, from your books with the aid of a loud hailer from that vantage point. You will, no doubt attract a crowd of curious onlookers together with a fair quantity of pigeon droppings for Trafalgar Square is a magnet to which our feathered friends flock. If it’s a nice sunny day you might also wish to don colourful swimming attire thereby further delighting the audience who will be listening, with rapt attention to your every word.
2. Hide behind the bookshelves in W. H. Smiths or some other purveyor of books and jump out on potential readers shouting at the top of your voice, “buy my book, buy my book” and if they are so ungracious as to refuse to avail themselves of your literary masterpiece, belabour them around the head with a copy of same.
3. Remove other authors books from the shelves in public libraries (for they are mere dross when compared to your scribblings) and replace their works wwith copies of your worthy tomes.
4. When talking to potential dates, regail them with chapter and verse as to why they should purchase your books. I find it helps to back them into a corner and (if at all possible) to ensure there is no easy means of exit. You may well not find the love of your life by employing such a stratagem. However your ex date will, very probably buy your book in order to effect his/her escape!
5. Send out automated tweets, every 5 seconds or so saying “please, please, please buy my book”. Your Twitter followers will be so impressed with your efforts they will show their appreciation by purchasing your book in droves or, just possibly deserting you in droves …!
6. If all else fails, repeat and repeat again!

School Days

I recall The library’s high shelves
Where I would delve
For books.
Often I forsook
My peers
To read
And on solitude feed.

All those years
Gone by.
I sigh
And wonder why
The past holds such sway.
And we humans lose ourselves in yesterday.
Oh how easy it is to perspective lack
As we gaze back
Down childhood’s track.

I remember the schoolyard’s din
And the wanting to join in.
Sometimes I ran with the crowd
Yet my nature proud
Held me apart
And I solace found in art.

I see the library now
And wonder how
The school goes on
Now that I am gone
An whether books still stand
Waiting to command
The future poet’s hand.

What Would Your Youthful Library Record Say About You?

What would your youthful library record say about you? An interesting question and one addressed by John Crace (amongst others) in yesterday’s Guardian, (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/dec/03/youthful-library-record-haruki-murakami-belle-de-jour).
I, like John Crace, used to enjoy reading the Biggles books. Indeed I still have a copy of “Biggles Millionaire” on the bottom shelf of the bookcase in my living room. A good old fashioned yellow hardback book. I also still possess H. G. Wells “The Time Machine” and his “War Of The Worlds”, together with Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four” (although the latter is missing one Braille volume. Heaven only knows what happened to that)! I must have been an extremely boring teenager as I have no recollection of reading anything salacious unless one counts a rather abridged version, on audio cassette of “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” which, I must confess I did not enjoy reading.

Kevin