Tina Cane




Poet Laureate of Rhode Island

There are too many great books that have been banned and that I love to name. The Catcher in the Rye and The Great Gatsby come to mind.  Anything by James Baldwin--who has had many works banned--remains deeply important and ever-relevant. A good rule of thumb is: If it's been banned, you should probably seek it out and read it.

There's a reason why it's often harder to get a copy of a certain book than it is to get a gun. Ideas invite reflection. Reflection inspires action. Sometimes those in power would rather have us kill each other than have us question the structures that keep them in place. I'm thinking of the long lists of books forbidden in prison--books like The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. I mean, there you have it. The Invisible Man.

Books are bridges. They connect minds across time. To ban a book is to refuse truth. Even if a book is harmful, deemed dangerous, or just a pack of lies, it must be taken to task. We can only do that by reading it. Intellectual freedom is a form of strength.