7th Annual Int’l Book Fair Hosted at San Diego City College
Saturday October 6th, 2012
12-1:30pm at the Saville Theater
Readings of excerpts from banned books by faculty and staff members including: Roberta Alexander, June Cressy, Farrell Foreman, Kevin Gossett, Jan Jarrell, Nadia Mandilawi, Elizabeth Meehan, Oscar Preciado, Anna Rogers, Elva Salinas. With a discussion to follow.
Event Review by: Raeanne DuPont
When I first heard about the Banned Book Reading I was thrilled. Banned books? What is more exciting than a book I have been forbidden to read? Then when I realized it was a whole event that was dedicated to reading books that have been banned in general it perked my interest even more. Sadly, my first impression of the Fair crushed my hopes for what the rest of the afternoon would hold.
While I was trying to find the event I became hopelessly lost. Entering the event I was personally confused as to where I should be going. It wasn’t very clearly laid out and if I hadn’t been on the hunt I would have probably passed right by it. There were no signs or banners saying “this way to a reader’s paradise” or something of the effect. When I finally found the theater and sat down for the actual reading I was struck at how few people were there and the overall feel of the reading was rather somber. The readers wore all black and then one at a time went up and read the piece they chose. In some ways it was like watching a funeral progress as each eulogy is presented.
I was grateful though for the addition of a colorful slideshow that played alongside the readings. Each slide included a picture of the book that the piece was selected from as well as an author photo. Other information such as the speaker’s name and the date the book was published was also included in the slides, creating a very listener-friendly introduction to the reading. However, people also kept entering and exiting the reading throughout the session, which was distracting and kept me from getting completely into the reading.
Other than the somber first impression of the reading I found it to be quite relaxing. As a child my mother and father would read to me every night before I went to bed and this brought me back to those days. The speakers were masters of their craft, each bringing something new to the piece they chose and bringing it alive with their words. Most of the pieces chosen were from minority authors and this minority voice was largely present. It was great to hear these pieces, which are such a large part of our culture and other cultures.
When the faculty and staff were asked after the reading, “Why did you choose the banned book that you did to read,” a wide variety of answers were given. One that particularly stood out to me was stated by a large African American man, “It takes a lot of nerve to ban a book. It probably takes a lot more nerve to ban Shakespeare. If you ban a book you cut off anybody’s possibility of being inspired by it. You can’t ban no books folks!” This really struck me. He is right, you can’t ban a book. If you ban a book you eliminate the chance for someone to read it and fall in love with it. Those who wish to ban books snuff creativity when they ban a book. “Wild tongues can’t be tamed, they can only be cut out,” (How to Tame a Wild Tongue by Gloria Anzaldua). This is exactly what the book-banners are attempting to do. They can’t tame the words that are being written so they believe that by banning the book they can silence it by cutting out a person’s chance to read it. Ironically though, “by banning books they make them sacred documents.” Keep reading, educate yourself, and don’t fall into the set parameters of what we have been told is okay to read because looking at the banned book list these are probably the books that we should be reading. Overall, looking past my first impression of this event, I found it to be educational and an eye-opener and would recommend others to go to it. Cause as a man once said, “You can’t ban no books folks!”
Find information on events, authors, and speakers at the International Book Fair website.