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Banned | Indo-Canadian Sikh's book among most banned in US schools

IANS | Updated on Thursday, May 04, 2023 01:43 AM IST

TORONTO: A Canadian-Sikh poet, whose Twitter account was withheld in India last month over the Khalistan issue, now has her debut work among the 11 most banned books in the US classrooms for the first half of the 2022-23 school year.

Rupi Kaur's 'Milk and Honey', which released in 2014, was banned for exploring issues of sexual assault and violence, according to data provided by non-profit PEN America.

The book, banned in multiple districts in Missouri this year, tied in ninth place with Toni Morrison's 'The Bluest Eye', according to the report.

Both books were reportedly banned in 10 districts in the first half of this school year alone.

"It deeply concerns me that there is a group of people hell bent on taking away literature that students find refuge in," Punjab-born Kaur wrote in an Instagram post last week.

Apart from violene, the rest of the titles in the list discussed race and racism, LGBTQ+ characters, grief or death, student health and well-being, and teen pregnancy, abortion or sexual assault.

"Parents want to ban books to protect their kids but teachers and librarians say that students are old enough to be aware of the topics discussed in these books. Many actually seek these books out because they're going through those experiences themselves," she wrote.

Kaur's work encompasses love, loss, trauma, healing, femininity, and migration.

"I remember sitting in my school library in high school, turning to books about sexual assault because I didn't have anyone else to turn to. This is the reality for many students," she said in her post.

"We all find comfort in literature that reflects our experiences. now that books about sexual assault and other topics are being banned -- I worry for students who rely on school libraries for access to literature."

This isn't the first time Kaur responded to her book being banned. She commented on Instagram about a ban that went into effect in two states last year, according to NBC News.

"Over the last few months parts of Texas and Oregon have banned or attempted to ban 'Milk and Honey' from schools and libraries. Why? Because it explores sexual assault and violence experienced by a young woman," she wrote.

The award-winning poet immigrated to Canada at age four with her Sikh parents and grew up in a suburb of Toronto.

The Sun and her Flowers (2017) and Home Body (2020) are among the other titles that Kaur has written.

These collections have sold over 11 million copies and have been translated into over 43 languages, with Milk and Honey surpassing Homer's Odyssey as the best-selling poetry of all time, according to Kaur's website.

She was also regarded as "writer of the decade" by the New Republic and recognised on the Forbes 30 under 30 list. In 2022, Kaur released her fourth book, 'Healing Through Word'.

However, there have been plagiarism allegations on Kaur, saying she stole her poetry style and content from Nayyirah Waheed and Pavana Reddy.


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