Saturday 25 November 2006

British kid discovers Larkin, mother gets all waspish and huffy

In his famous poem, "This Be the Verse," Philip Larkin wrote: "They fuck you up, your mum and dad. They may not mean to, but they do." But one mum in England thinks it goes the other way around and is placing the blame on Larkin himself. Her son, Kieran, took this book home from his school's library for a homework assignment. Upon examining her son's choice of reading material, she was shocked to discover the afore-mentioned verse by Larkin, as well as some sexually suggestive poems, such as E.E. Cummings' erotic sonnet "i like my body when it is with your..."
Two more pieces of work described two people killing themselves while another told of a drunk vomiting.
Babs, 40, of Parkstone Heights, Poole, confiscated the book from Kieran before he got to read it and then phoned the school to complain.
She said: "I was horrified that this sort of material was available for kids in a first school.
"I could possibly understand it in a secondary school but it is totally inappropriate for a child of seven.
"I would have been livid had he read it. Some of its is filth." (from the Dorset Daily Echo)
I'm not sure what to think of this except that Babs might be over-reacting. There are ways of pointing out that a book might be unsuitable for a children's library without running to the press and crying foul. And besides, there are enough grown-ups who can't get their heads around poets like Larkin and Cummings; I hardly think a seven year old boy could be seriously "fucked up" by a couple of maturely themed poems.

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