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Racy Poetry In Classroom Angers Brooklyn Parents

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'Streets in Poem Form'

Tylibah Washington distributed her poetry book, entitled “Streets in Poem Form,” to students at PS 279. (Credit: CBS 2)

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CANARSIE (CBS 2) — Some Brooklyn parents are fuming Thursday over a book passed out to their children in school, which featured poems with sexually explicit comments about everyone from drug dealers to presidents.

As CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown reports, the book is entitled “Streets In Poem Form,” and is a collection of works ranging in subject from Rosa Parks to prostitutes. It was handed out to 5th graders at PS 279.

The author, Tylibah Washington, led a 4-week program at the school called “Poetry In Motion.” It was designed to help students find their voice through poetry.

While some poems deal with chasing your dreams, others address the harsh realities of life on the streets, like pimps, hookers and sexual favors.

One anti-war poem says President Bush “loves war so much he gets an erection.”

While the most explicit passages were left out of the curriculum, Washington distributed a full copy of the book to students at the end of the course. But the raw language upset some teachers – and a lot of parents.

“That should not be in the school, a public school with young kids,” said parent Guershon Adophe. “No, no, no that should not happen.”

The school’s principal declined to comment on camera, but has said publicly that he not read every word of the book before it was distributed to students.

“Of course the school should have been able to review it and see if it was appropriate for the children to read,” said parent Lillian Hernandez.

Washington said her poems don’t glorify drugs or violence, but simply address the realities of urban life and teach kids about the consequences of negative behavior.

“These children need a voice,” the controversial author said. “I stand for them.”

Washington told CBS 2 her book has been distributed at dozens of schools across the city, and she has never received a complaint.

“This is a powerful program that changes lives every single day,” she said.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education told CBS 2 that Washington is registered with the Department and allowed to reach out to schools – but it’s up to individual principals to decide what’s distributed in their school.

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