Most people regard poetry as a quiet, introspective activity. In some places, poets can safely rely on the protection of freedom of expression to paint literary pictures of society and its pitfalls. And in the majority of western democracies, official censorship of poetry is residual – intended primarily to shield children from profanity. Yet when poetry and politics collide, poets with a talent for parody and creating poems that sniff out hypocrisy, double-think and inequality are at risk of being censored, vilified, imprisoned, tortured, exiled or murdered – for practicing the not-so-gentle art.
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