Demand that Knox County Public Library reinvite Julia Watts to Lit Up Festival

Demand that Knox County Public Library reinvite Julia Watts to Lit Up Festival

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Stop Censorship started this petition to Nelda Hill and

Nelda Hill, assistant director of Knox County Public Library unceremoniously uninvited regional author and LAMBA Literary Award winner for Children’s/Young Adult fiction Julia Watts from participating in the first annual Lit Up Festival: Arts and Innovation for the Next Generation.

Knox County Public Library takes offense that their invited guest has had some of their work described as “erotica.” While Julia Watts was invited because of her latest teen novel which has received positive reviews from many publications and not to discuss her other non-children’s novels, the fact that someone has described some of her other work as erotica has solely disqualified her from participating in this festival.

Nelda Hill says that they have sought out LGBTQ+ authors yet when we have an award winning one that has a well received teen book out KCPL has decided to judge their entire merit of participating not on the teen book that they author would be representing but on other works that someone has deemed erotica.

An interesting side note, beloved children’s author Shel Silverstein wrote and drew “erotica,” as did children’s illustrator Tomi Ungerer. Maurice Sendak produced erotic illustrations for Herman Melville’s Pierre. Anne Rice made a whole career out of erotica. Every teen has read the Twilight series in which the main character is practically in heat for several novels and in which a bed breaking romp is described and that’s before they have a daughter who her werewolf friend gets the hots for. Oh and how about Fifty Shades of Grey? It’s not on library shelves, you have to request a secret copy hidden in the interlibrary loan office is you want the library to supply that for you.

So why is KCPL deciding to uninvite Julia Watts? Because she has written about sex in a non-childrens/teen book? Do the administrators treat all potential participants in library programs similarly? Are they checking that the musicians that perform at their jazz performances have never written a bawdy song? Are they verifying that every children’s performer is squeaky clean? Are background checks being done on every children’s author that the bring in for the Children’s Festival of Reading to make sure they haven’t had impure thoughts? Would they turn away Judy Blume? RL Stine? So what is it that has gotten them riled up about this particular author? Don’t expect an explanation; questions are being answered with boilerplate recitations of their press release.

So sign this petition and demand that Julia Watts be reinvited to participate and/or call on the other participants to also remove themselves in solidarity.

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