It’s BANNED BOOKS WEEK again and I’ve been thinking about how IDEAS CAN BE DANGEROUS.
I struggle with the question of content all the time as an author who writes from young adults. During the process of editing COURAGE: DARING POEMS FOR GUTSY GIRLS, my fellow editors, Mindy Nettifee and Rachel McKibbens and I had lengthy discussions about the language we wanted to include. Knowing certain words would get us banned from school libraries, we wanted to keep it PG. I mean, we really, really wanted as many girls as possible to get their hands on this book. Not just the ones with cool aunts living in big cities who would send it to them. Not just the ones with L.A. teachers who used to be slam poets. We wanted the girls who needed it to get it.
However, being poets presented a real problem for us. We trust girls with language and we didn’t want to mess with censorship. Who among us could write to women poets and say, “We love your poems. Could you take out the part where you refer to your own body with specific language?” It didn’t pass the gut test.
And so, there is no limit to the language or subject matter you will get in Courage except for the ones our editorial minds and hearts decided on, and what our poet brains thought teenage girls would want and need to read.
More about how these decisions play out in my YA novels in another post. Happy Banned Books Week! Read something DANGEROUS!