Christopher Hitchens said that “the great thing about writing a book is that it brings you into contact with people whose opinions you should have canvassed before you ever pressed pen to paper. They write to you. They telephone you. They give you things to read that you should have read already. [Putting out a book is] a free education that goes on for a lifetime.”
Last month I got an email from Mike at The Encyclopedia Show Austin, telling me about Censored Mother Goose Rhymes—a charming little book featured in the Ransom Center’s excellent “Banned, Burned, Seized, and Censored” exhibit.
Published in 1929 by a writer and editor named Kenneth Banning, it was dedicated to “THE CENSORS who have taught us how to read naughty meanings into harmless words” and was supposed to be a demonstration “of the effect of censorship upon anything it touches.” If I’m not mistaken, it was even passed out to congressmen in the middle of the censorship debates.
It’s a very very funny book.
Anyways, Mike asked me if I’d do something with the book, and while I almost never read my poems publicly, I think this book is even better read aloud, so, with the help of my iPhone, I read a few at the show.