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Banned Books Week: 2020

This guide introduces you to Banned Books Week. Click on the Menu to see the latest year

Top Banned and Challenged Books of the Past Year--Click on the Title to see FIU holdings

Challenged and Banned Comics



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Banned Books Week 2020: September 27 -- October 3


"We Real Cool" by Gwendolyn Brooks--the story behind the banning

We Real Cool by Gwendolyn Brooks,

                   THE POOL PLAYERS. 
                   SEVEN AT THE GOLDEN SHOVEL.

We real cool. We
Left school. We

Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We
Die soon.


One of Gwendolyn Brooks’s most famous poems, “We Real Cool,” was banned in schools in Mississippi and West Virginia in the 1970s for the penultimate sentence in the poem: “We / Jazz June.” The school districts banned the poem for the supposed sexual connotations of the word “jazz.”

However, Brooks herself maintained that that interpretation was erroneous. As she was quoted as saying in Conversations with Gwendolyn Brooks (University Press of Mississippi, 2003): “I didn’t mean that at all. I meant that these young men would have wanted to challenge anything that was accepted by ‘proper’ people, so I thought of something that is accepted by almost everybody, and that is summertime, the month of June. So these pool players, instead of paying the customary respect to the loveliness of June—the flowers, blue sky, honeyed weather—wanted instead to derange it, to scratch their hands in it as if it were a head of hair. This is what went through my head; that is what I meant.

“However, a space can be permitted for a sexual interpretation. Talking about different interpretations gives me a chance to say something I firmly believe—that poetry is for personal use. When you read a poem, you may not get out of it all that the poet put into it, but you are different from the poet. You’re different from everybody else who is going to read the poem, so you should take from it what you need. Use it personally.”

quoted from

BEYOND BOOKS---other types of censorship