Archive for the ‘Censorship’ Category


May 28, 2009

(First printed in Riding Home, Talon Books, 1995)

Sex and violence cannot be censored;
this would be an infringement
of human rights,
free speech,
the rights of writers,
and the right to information.
Only women’s issues are to be censored.
Books completely concerned
with, for example, day care,
do not get published.
They are not of literary merit,
or universal concern.

Universal concerns are:
a man catching a fish,
rape, torture, war
and other forms of barbarism.
Universal concerns do not include
any rights of children,
living with spousal violence,
or poverty.

Poverty finds it’s way
into literature
only to illustrate some other point
like, maybe, man’s inhumanity,
the black inner depths of every man’s soul,
the nature of god
or some such matter of concern
to those who don’t have to live in poverty.

Literary middlemen find
native issues
are really much prettier
when defined and described
by non-natives.

Worker’s rights are not of interest
to publishers and academics
so the question of censoring literature
completely concerned with union organizing
does not arise.

We, the censored,
are allowed voice
only to defend the oppressors.
We, the censored, cannot speak
against pornography.
Pornography is defended
by drunks and literary men,
and young women die
so that rich men can be free.

We, the censored,
are allowed to speak
in defence of the right of a rich Englishman
to write garbled books,
but we do not speak of the censorship
of half the population of Iran.

Half the population of Iran
cannot speak in public
or publish books
or even appear on the streets
looking like people.
Women made slaves
is not censorship;
it is merely a peculiar culture. 
We, the censored,
cannot speak out for the women of Iran.
We do not know the details
of their slavery
because that information
is censored.

Freedom of speech is claimed
as a basic right of free men
even when they use this freedom
to silence their slaves. 

Every ruling class practices censorship;
their lackeys defend this
by calling it freedom of speech
and surely everyone knows it’s a joke
to talk about freedom of the press
when a few rich men own the media.
In the name of freedom of speech,
the hate-mongers own the streets
and we, the censored, are not even free
to tell them to shut up.


Copyright 2009, Helen Potrebenko. For permissions please visit