Poems Punishable By Jail

Wendy Bacon was a campaigner against Australian censorship in the 1960s and 70s. In this amazing article, she details the fight of students against censorship in those heady libertarian days. This was a time when the Minister for Customs justified bans on books by saying “normal healthy Australians would not be interested in the works of DH Lawrence and Henry Miller anyway.”

Wendy and her friends conducted civil disobedience activities to highlight the nonsense of censorship. They included the publication of two poems that I want to include here on the blog. The poems show just how much sensibilities have changed – and how much the reactions to “obscenity” have stayed the same.


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The first poem, Eskimo Nell, is a bawdy football poem:

But Eskimo Nell was an infidel – she equalled a whole harem,
With the strength of ten in her abdomen and her rock of ages beam.
Amidships she could stand the rush like this flush of a water closet,
So she grasped his cock like a Chatswood lock on the National Safe Deposit.
She lay for a while with a subtle smile while the grip of her cunt grew keener,
Then giving a sigh she sucked him dry with the ease of a vacuum cleaner.

The second poem is a deliberately provocative anti-religious poem called “Cunt is a Christian Word”:

Think of all the careless girls
who let men touch them there,
Who were foolish and silly
and forget about their immortal souls
Thinking instead of fleshly pleasures
and who have been brought to ecstasy
five thousand times.
But you have been saved from that.

But soon you will realise,
That you have been getting fucked all along.
For there is no cock as big and rough
As the one your church has thrust into you.
God’s great steel penis …

Funny how the football poem is almost tame by today’s standards but I’m sure the religious will still be horribly offended by the second. That’s no reason to not publish it, of course. Freedom from offense is not a human right.

Wendy went to jail for publishing both of those poems. I’d like to thank her for her bravery and fortitude. A pity that 40 years later, we’re still fighting this nonsense fight with our government.

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