Sep 8, 2015

Fort Wayne poet in controversy over use of pen name (with UPDATE)

Meet Yi-Fen Chou, aka Michael Derrick Hudson

Below is a link to a story about Fort Wayne poet Michael Derrick Hudson, a white man who used a Chinese pseudonym because he thought it would help him be selected for publication. The scheme worked so well, that his poem was included in the annual Best American Poetry anthology. I 90% join the condemnation of this man, but there's 10% of me that understands his reason for doing so.
He says editors kept rejecting his poems, but when he changed his name to that of an ethnic group, his acceptance rate improved. This says several things things to me. One, editors DO notice names. Two, does this suggest that editors are willing to accept poems from minorities that they normally would not have accepted from Caucasians? Three, does the quality of a poem matter more than the poet?
Until poems can be judge blindly (that is, without identifications attached), abuses by submitters and editors will continue.

UPDATE: It's now reported that Michael Derrick Hudson adopted the name of a high school classmate. The family of Yi-Fen Chou is requesting that Hudson stop using the name. Geesh. He couldn't even invent a fake name.

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