Kind preten cam
Ezra Pound’s flawed “translations” of Chinese poetry, for example, became a key foundation for modernism.The only limitation for such an artist, really, is the extent to which it can all be explained away as an avant-garde game if things get too weird.
When I first learned about the Yasusada hoax, years after it happened, I wasn’t sure what to think about it.“It’s possible that I read more poems last year than any other person on the planet,” he guesses—less a boast than a justification for human error.He had entered into this endeavor with a desire to tweak the canon, if slightly, by promoting works by women and people of color whenever possible.He acknowledges that he gave “The Bees” a closer read “because of the poet’s Chinese name.” Once the poem was accepted, Hudson admitted that there was no Chou, but by then it was too late. His only justification for pulling it, he concludes, would have been to save himself from the public embarrassment that has now ensued.Perhaps there was no high road to be taken here, but as unsatisfying as it is to reward Hudson—a poet who, in the parlance of literary criticism, acted dickishly—Alexie did the right thing. What changed was that he was forced to detail and rationalize the way he reads and what he reads for.There were those who defended Johnson, in part because he had littered Yasusada’s Japanese biography with easily fact-checked clues that suggested it was all made up.
There were also those who considered the poems acts of radical empathy—including some readers in Japan, who found the testimonies of an imagined Hiroshima survivor an apt tribute to a moment of national devastation.
If a Chinese name were all it took, there would be far more authors with names like Yi-Fen Chou at the bookstore.
Perhaps, too, spoofing the Chinese struck Hudson as a relatively safe masquerade, likely to provoke less generalized rage than, say, the fake autobiography of a purported ex-gangster or a Holocaust survivor. When it comes to such hoaxes, it seems somehow easier to fake Asia, a land still distant and inscrutable to many Americans; while other hoaxes work because of their thoroughness and care, the Asian-themed sort often get by with only a few details, as long as those details seem just “Asian” enough.
And it’s the way, frankly, that many of us read, regardless of background, identity, or politics: we bring our own dreams or baggage to bear upon whatever we have chosen to lay our eyes on.
We might abide by different critical cues, but we are all looking for something.
He claims that “The Bees” was passed over forty times as the work of Michael Derrick Hudson, but needed only nine submissions under Yi-Fen Chou’s name before it was accepted, by .