An English teacher in Connecticut was placed on leave after asking students to read a poem by Beat icon Allen Ginsberg, WTNH reports.
According to students, South Windsor High School’s AP English teacher David Olio instructed them to read the 1968 poem “Please Master,” in which Ginsberg graphically describes a sexual encounter between two men.
Ginsberg — whose poem “Howl” was famously declared obscene for its references to sex and illicit drug use in 1957 — is considered one of the most significant poets of the 20th Century, but it is not known whether “Please Master” was included in the AP English materials, or whether Olio introduced the poem to the class through some other means, as it is readily available online.
One parent told WTNH that “I don’t feel that the content was appropriate whether it was a senior class or an honors class. It was a little bit much. I’m not sure what the reasoning was behind reading that particular poem.”
Another told WFSB that “I couldn’t read the whole poem it was so inappropriate. The first few lines, but after I got into a few lines, I couldn’t believe what I was reading.”
In an email to parents, Superintendent of Schools Kate Carter insisted that the poem was “highly inappropriate,” then added that the school takes “seriously the trust that parents place in teachers and administrators, and we do not tolerate the use of inappropriate materials in classroom settings.”
Watch a report on Olio’s suspension via WTNH below.