National Banned Books Week (Sept. 22-28) Focus on the Right to Read in the Nation’s Prisons

“Literature Locked Up” will engage authors, readers, and policymakers to support an end to prison book bans nationwide.”



America’s prison system implements that largest book ban in the United States. This year, as part of national Banned Books Week (Sept. 22 – 28), the free expression and literary organization PEN America will launch a weeklong initiative to shed light on the practice of banning books in the nation’s prisons and jails. “Literature Locked Up: Banned Books Week 2019” will feature events across the country, online activities, and public education to highlight restrictions of the right to read for the 2.2 million people currently incarcerated in the United States.

“With all of our societal focus on how to make the criminal justice system more just and less self-defeating, vindicating the right to read in prison is an obvious and essential step,” said Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America. “Yet tens of thousands of books are banned in prisons. Systems ban access to everything from classics including Alice Walker’s The Color Purple and Toni Morrison’s Paradise, to coloring and self-help books. These restrictions are stunningly arbitrary and defeat the ability of incarcerated people to learn, explore, and envision a future. We call on states and the federal government to lift these pointless bans and uphold the freedom to read.”

Increasingly, state and federal prisons are dramatically restricting book deliveries or shutting them down entirely. The federal Bureau of Prisons recently attempted to institute an unexplained 30 percent markup on books ordered by or for incarcerated readers, ultimately rescinding that idea under public pressure. Texas’ Department of Criminal Justice has banned over 15,000 books from its prison system, including books by Alice Walker, John Grisham, Michelle Alexander, Jenna Bush Hager, Frederick Douglass, and Bob Dole. Throughout Banned Books Week, PEN America and its members will highlight this injustice and call for reform.

As part of “Literature Locked Up,” PEN America has launched a national petition drive urging the House and Senate Judiciary Committees to convene hearings on book banning in the nation’s prisons. The organization is coordinating with bookstores and other partners across the country to highlight book bans, including events in Oklahoma, Michigan, Illinois, and Texas. And alongside the Dramatists Legal Fund, PEN America will co-present Banned Together, a series of performances across the country of shows that have been censored or challenged on the American stage.

“Banning books is a serious threat to free inquiry and free expression,” said award-winning author and PEN America board member Dinaw Mengestu. “We’re calling on state prison systems across the country to review their policies and, where possible, rescind arbitrary book bans. And we’re asking members of Congress to review book restriction practices at the federal level. Oftentimes all that stands between prisoners and a transformative work of literature are arbitrary decisions made by wardens and prison mailrooms. It just shouldn’t be that way.”

PEN America has long been at the forefront of supporting the right of incarcerated people to create and access literature, including mentoring, honoring, and finding audiences for writers currently in prison through the Prison and Justice Writing Program. Many of those writers will be featured in a series of public readings co-sponsored by PEN America and The Poetry Project. That series, BREAK OUT, will include dozens of public readings events for the month of September.

Read more about the “Literature Locked Up: Banned Books Week 2019” project; see events related to the initiative; and follow our social channels to get live updates as more events are added to the calendar. You can also listen to a playlist of banned songs assembled by PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection.

100TPC: Heads-up Cities Around the World, The Love of Peace, Sustainability and Social Justice Is Viral; and, Banned Book Week

“Poetry. It’s better than war!” Michael Rothenberg, cofounder of 100,000 Poets (and friends) for Change



The slide show below displays some of the posters for 100TPC events happening in different parts of the world. To find something in your area check 100tpc.org or Michael Rothenberg’s 100,000 Poets for Change Communication Hub. I’ve also been trying to track the events and post links to them on The Poet by Day Facebook Page. The Zine is an online event, so you can go to an event in your area and still participate in The BeZine‘s virtual 100TPC on Saturday, September 29th.

Over 2,000 groups and individuals have signed-up to read poems to children (part of 100TPC Global 2018) from September 24-29.

If you are reading this post from an email subscription, you’ll likely have to click through to this site to view the slide show.

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HEADS-UP ISRAEL …


 

SEP
26
Sukkah Salon
Public · Hosted by Jerusalism.

This 100TPC event is hosted by our own Michael Dickel (Meta/ Phor(3) /Play) and his friends.


Our poster for 100TPC 2018. It was designed by Corina Ravenscraft (Dragon’s Dreams)

 

Michael Dickel is also the Master of Ceremonies for The BeZine Virtual 100TPC event, Sept 29. Join with us on Saturday and support this great global effort, read some fine work, share your poetry and other art, and meet poets and other artists who share your values and concerns.


Banned Books Week: Banning Books Silences Stories,  Sept. 23 – 29, 2018

By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship. The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted with removal or restrictions in libraries and schools. While books have been and continue to be banned, part of the Banned Books Week celebration is the fact that, in a majority of cases, the books have remained available. This happens only thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, students, and community members who stand up and speak out for the freedom to read. Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community – librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types – in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

About Book Bans and Challenges
Books are still being banned and challenged today. A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials.

While books have been and continue to be banned, part of the Banned Books Week celebration is the fact that, in a majority of cases, the books have remained available. This happens only thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, students, and community members who stand up and speak out for the freedom to read.

–  Frequently Challenged Books

–  Top 10 Challenged Books

American Library Association


ABOUT

Poet and writer, I was once columnist and associate editor of a regional employment publication. Currently I run this site, The Poet by Day, an information hub for poets and writers. I am the managing editor of The BeZine published by The Bardo Group Beguines (originally The Bardo Group), a virtual arts collective I founded.  I am a weekly contributor to Beguine Again, a site showcasing spiritual writers.

My work is featured in a variety of publications and on sites, including: Levure littéraure, Ramingo’s PorchVita Brevis Literature,Compass Rose, Connotation PressThe Bar None GroupSalamander CoveSecond LightI Am Not a Silent PoetMeta / Phor(e) /Play, and California Woman.

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