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Freedom to Read – Would You Print a Banned Book?

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  • Blackbird Poetry Festival April 25, 2019 Howard Community College, Columbia, MD 21044, USA Mississippi’s Poet Laureate Beth Ann Fennelly headlines the eleventh annual Blackbird Poetry Festival for HoCoPoLitSo. The festival, set for April 25, 2019, on the campus of Howard Community College, is a day devoted to verse, with workshops, book sales, readings, and patrols by the Poetry Police. The Sunbird poetry reading, featuring Ms. Fennelly, as well…
  • Film/Author Presentation of Girl Rising With Aminatta Forna June 30, 2019 at 2:30 pm – 4:30 pm Join in saluting the founding of the Columbia Film Society and HoCoPoLitSo with an afternoon that celebrates the education of girls, the beauty of story, and the power of collective action. This joint anniversary event features a talk by one of the writers of Girl Rising and a showing of the documentary film that inspired…

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  • CityLit Festival - Baltimore April 27, 2019 at 9:00 am – 5:30 pm 11 W. Mt. Royal Ave., Baltimore, MD 21201 Each April, CityLit Project presents its signature event: CityLit Festival. The day-long celebration of literature includes concurrent programming throughout our partner's venue so that there is something literally for everyone.
  • Wilde Readings May 14, 2019 at 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm Columbia Art Center, 6100 Foreland Garth, Columbia, MD 21045, USA Monthly reading with featured writers and open mic. Free.
  • Books In Bloom June 2, 2019 at 11:00 am – 4:00 pm Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy, Columbia, MD 21044, USA Downtown Columbia's book festival.

Freedom to Read – Would You Print a Banned Book?

Book:  Tropic of Cancer

Author:  Henry Miller

Controversy:   First published in 1934 by Obelisk Press, Tropic of Cancer was banned in the United States for obscenity (graphic sexual content).  U.S. Customs banned the book from being imported and sold in the United States.  However, the book was frequently smuggled into the country.  From the 1930s to the 50s, Tropic of Cancer was the subject of many lawsuits between the government and publishers/book sellers.

Challenge:  In 1961, Grove Press legally published Tropic of Cancer, and lawsuits, once again, were filed in 21 states against store owners that sold the book.  The case against it went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1964 with the decision of it being obscene was overturned.

Impact:  Tropic of Cancer is considered a 20th Century literary masterpiece.  Miller broke ground with a new literary writing style with his fusion of real life with fiction, free association writing, mysticism, and philosophy in the book.  Many writers of the time hailed Miller as a new literary voice despite critics of the book.

Beat Generation writers, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Williams S. Burroughs and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, claimed to be greatly influenced by Miller’s work.

It has been named on several 100 Best or Must Read Book lists and was instrumental in paving the way for challenging censorship in the United States and Freedom of Speech cases.


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