Posts Tagged ‘z’Dark Things”’

“Do We Censor Ourselves in What We Write?”

January 13, 2018

Supermoon in dec.


Very recently I received an email asking to be ‘friends’ on facebook.  The person was a woman I knew slightly during Y2K.  Our relationship wasn’t close and she wasn’t a literary friend. I have no problem adding friends to fb, but when I told her I was a writer, she asked me if I ‘wrote dark things.’  That question startled me.  Apparently in the ‘60s she had a nervous breakdown and couldn’t tolerate ‘dark things’.

I thought about this.  Hell, yes, I write about ‘dark things’.  “Olsen’s Pond” is an example of dark things.  But further, I am not responsible for the mental stability, comfort, etc. of readers.  I don’t think this woman would want to be ‘friends’ with me on fb according to her standards. And frankly?  I don’t think I would be interested in her.

I have come across this sort of censorship before.  When I published my first book (“A Seasoning of Lust”) there were a few rather comical stories with sex mentioned.  Not full bore sex but a dusting of this issue.  My mother’s opinion was this: “ I  was a pornographer, would always be such, and I would live in the gutter.”  Thanks, mom.  But this is the opinion of a woman who writes little and when she attempts poetry, it’s sentimental mush.

I remember a woman in ERWA (Erotica Readers and Writers Assoc.) who styled everything she wrote after a silly, demented ‘dom’.  He was a hack at this site and frankly, people started to notice his projection of horrendous sadism in his work posted there.  She didn’t notice there was a rumble around his work and just continued to style her work after his.  She was rather stupid.  But it did raise the issue of censorship.  His work was so vile, so misogynistic it outdid deSade.  He projected a sense of power but I did meet him.  He was a small, whiny man, with nothing that would appeal.  He hid behind his words and they were pretty awful.

In that case, he should have censored himself.  But he was insane.


Censorship is something I have struggled with.  Do we do this to ‘please’ potential readers?  Are we afraid our ‘dark things’ in verse and story will isolate ourselves?  Last year I posted “Olsen’s Pond” and some people wrote that they ‘refuses to read this poem because it would depress them’.  Well, they must have read some of it to have that opinion.

I have written a lot of Japanese stories and poems.  Some in the tanka form and most not.  Some readers have no information on shibari, something I studied for a year or so because it interested me.  It was such a strange-seeming, alien practice but I kept reading about it to at least have some clarity before I ditched the whole subject.  People again were horrified that a woman (or man) would allow oneself to be tied with rope.  Some called it barbaric, some called it ‘oppressive’.  I have read one translation of the word ‘shibari’ as ‘tying up the heart’.  This was enough for me to write some comical pieces (Metamorphosis series) and some not so comical works.

So, Hell Yes I write about dark things.  War is Hell, especially on children and perhaps my “Children of Aleppo” is a dark thing but it points to hope. The light doesn’t show unless the darkness appears.  And I hope that I continue to not be swayed by those who are afraid of life.  Those who are need not read my blog.

Below is a Haibun.  “The Punishment”.

While binding me for his pleasure, I uttered displeasing words. With a level glance he considered options and too soon decided my fate. Grabbing my hair, he pulled me to my feet, opened the shoji, and forced me out in an early spring’s snow.  A lavender sky tinted the snow purple, gray in the shadows.  Ordering me to kneel, I obeyed, shivering in the cold morn.  Drawing an early cherry blossom from his sleeve (a gift that was to be mine), he threw it down.  It was his pleasure for me to feel the sharpness of the morning until the soft snow covered the blossom. I, who a month ago would not have cared what I said, now trembled with remorse, feeling more than cold air.  My nakedness revealed my shame.  A crow in the cherry tree laughed scornfully.

When love grows deep and the heart overflows, one submits and becomes a slave.

The snow soon covered the blossom at my knees.  Fearing I would die, he picked me up, carried me to the brazier and tucked me deep amongst his robes, singing softly of the foolish maiden who would die for the last word.

A swirl of blossoms

Caught in the water’s current

Begins the season.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2018

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