Censoring Dennis Lee?

Some days, it just don’t pay to read the news.

CBC Arts: N.S. edu­ca­tors can’t see humour in ‘Brat­ty Broth­er’ poem

Review­ers of one of my favourite poems from my childhood–“The Brat­ty Broth­er” by Den­nis Lee–are hav­ing issues with the poem’s inclu­sion in a book dis­trib­uted to every first-grad­er in Cana­da to pro­mote literacy.

The poem, “Brat­ty Broth­er”, is a vio­lent poem and the humour of it escapes our review­ers. Some par­ents may also respond neg­a­tive­ly to the poem…

Per­haps the review­ers need to read this poem as a child would, rather than as a lit­i­ga­tion-fear­ing no-fun-allowed suit would.


The poem is more than 30 years old and the poet him­self says he’s had noth­ing but pos­i­tive feed­back from par­ents, who actu­al­ly say the book helps kids with younger ‘brat­ty’ broth­ers under­stand that they aren’t the only ones hav­ing these problems.

Here is part of the poem, repro­duced from memory:

I dumped the brat­ty brother
In the shark-infest­ed sea,
By dusk the sea was empty
And the brat was home with me.

I wept, and hurled the brat­ty brother
Off the CN Tower;
He lol­loped through the liv­ing room
In less than half an hour.

Of course, when I read it, I sub­sti­tut­ed “sis­ter” for “broth­er”, as I have two sis­ters and not a sin­gle brother.

I mean real­ly.  What’s next?  Do we ban “Alli­ga­tor Pie” on the off-chance that some­one los­es a leg try­ing to snare some lunch?