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Monday, 18 May 2009

The poet who dared

I must say, I wasn’t aware till a couple of days ago about the death of James Kirkup.


Well, he may not be in the news much lately, but he certainly was in the late 1970s, when his poem “The Love That Dares to Speak Its Name” (full text here, linked also at bottom of post) appeared in the fortnightly British publication Gay News and caused one helluva stink.

That self-appointed defender of our morals, Mary Whitehouse, then heading what was called the National Viewers’ and Listeners’ Association (now Mediawatch-UK), brought a prosecution, and the paper was convicted, along with its editor, the late Denis Lemon, of blasphemous libel. Whitehouse died in 2001.

Kirkup died aged 91 – the same age as Whitehouse at the time of her death – at his Andorran home. He was an internationally celebrated poet, memoirist, novelist, playwright and translator.
Related links:
Gay News on trial
The Love That Dares to Speak its Name” (full text)

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