Patrick Jones, a Welsh poet, had his book signing event at a Waterstone bookstore in Cardiff Hayes cancelled last night due to pressure from a religious group.
Money quote from the BBC website:
Mr Jones said he was not going to be “beaten down” by religious activists, and signed copies for a small group of people in the street.
“I’m really proud of this book and I’m really sickened.
“There shouldn’t be censorship of this sort—it doesn’t set out to be offensive.”
He said he had not singled out Christianity in his poems, but was questioning beliefs in society.
The national director of Christian Voice, Stephen Green, said the decision was a triumph “for the Lord, not for us”.
“The Lord had not even showed me what we should do at Waterstone’s, only that it should be Christlike.
“Just the knowledge that we were on our way has put the fear of God into the opposition.”
Mr Green also called for Waterstone’s to stop selling the book.
Read the full account of the pathetic incident here.
On Patrick Jones’s website I found a few of his poems. Here’s some lines from one of them:
i have become a born again
bow to a river bank not the parting of the sea
sing to a star not an invisible man in the sky
i pray for prayers to be abandoned
mosques desserted, synagogues closed, churches morphed into poundshops
and the congregations will commune with one another
talk with one another laugh with one another
could this be how the shelling stops?
on a tiny piece of earth with no ownership manual
no ritual no prayerline 0800 number no tube of holy water that guarantees eternal life
no jihad no them no us
The content of the above poetry sample from Jones strikes me as fairly standard “movement atheism” fare—like the expressions of opinion that you might find at Richard Dawkin’s website.
And I’m not entirely thrilled, frankly, with a poet who would like to see the diversity of the world so starkly narrowed.
Sorry, but after the Holocaust I simply don’t think it’s a good idea to long for, even in the abstract, a world without synagogues.
In short, the brief clip of Jones’s poetry above suggests a lack of imagination—and an impatience with the crooked timber of humanity. These are not qualities that usually recommend themselves to the creation of emotionally expansive and sympathetic literature.
And I don’t get the impression that Jones has much of what Keats called “negative capability” (the ability to walk in the shoes of others—and imagine sensibilities starkly different from his own).
But all that I’ve just said above simply bodes ill for Patrick Jones as a sympathetic poetic stylist, and reflects my own biases.
Leave Jones alone—and allow him his freedom of speech—and his ability to sign and sell his books to willing buyers.