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?