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Racy Poetry Book To Be Cleaned Up For Student Use

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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)

Marcia Kramer thumbnail Marcia Kramer
Marcia Kramer joined CBS 2 in 1990 as an investigative and political...
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NEW YORK (CBS 2) — A controversial urban poetry book will be sanitized before it is taught again in New York City public schools.

Parents were aghast when copies of the racy reading material – it makes sexually explicit comments about everyone from drug dealers to presidents – were given to fifth graders.

Tylibah Washington took to the streets of Canarsie on Friday to defend her book, “Streets in Poem Form.”

“The messages that I convey in these poems is that you can transcend – anything in life that you’re going to do, you’re capable of being able to do it,” Washington said.

Some parents at P.S. 279 in Canarsie took issue with the book, which Tylibah gave out at the end of a fifth grade poetry-in-motion class, because it contains some elements they think are not appropriate for such young kids.

“I’m not happy with the school system at all – because of their lapse in judgment,” parent Kathy McDonald said.

Some of the poems are about chasing dreams and include tributes to historical figures like Rosa Parks.

Also among the passages, though, is an anti-war poem that says President George W. Bush “loves war so much he gets an erection.”

Another – “Supa Dupa!” – contains a reference to a crack-addicted hooker performing sex acts, while still another talks positively about an addiction to painkillers.

“I don’t even think it’s appropriate for junior high school,” McDonald said.

Councilman Charles Barron, Tylibah’s godfather, claimed that none of those passages were taught to the fifth graders, but he said the situation is being addressed to put parents’ minds at ease.

“She’s working on a version of this book that will eliminate anything that would be not age-appropriate for 10- and 11-year-olds,” Councilman Barron said.

When asked about the controversy, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he didn’t know anything about the book.

Tylibah Washington said that most parents of fifth graders who got the book, racy parts and all, didn’t object. Of the 60 kids who got the book, she said only 16 were returned.

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