Dog-Eared and Dispatched: September 13, 2015
Cultural appropriation casts a shadow over book culture this week, while hoards of media sites try to churn out responses that make sense of Michael Derrick Hudson’s use of Yi-Fen Chou as a pen name, lambasting his poem in this year’s Best American Poetry collection in the process. In other (unfortunate if not shocking) news, an Authors Guild survey indicates that a majority of writers would live below the poverty line if they relied solely on their writing for income. Ready? Set? Read!
The biggest book culture news of the week centers on the release of the 2015 volume of Best American Poetry, in which Michael Derrick Hudson—a white male author—managed to obtain publication under the female Chinese name Yi-Fen Chou. The poem in question, “The Bees, the Flowers, Jesus, Ancient Tigers, Poseidon, Adam and Eve,” is considered not very good by some sources. Native American author and poet Sherman Alexie, editor of this volume of BAP, wrote a deliberate and honest response to the controversy, particularly in light of his intentions to include at least 40 percent people of color. Hudson’s bio in the book reveals his actual name and identity, and openly declares his strategy of re-submitting often-rejected works under the name Yi-Fen Chou. David Orr of the New York Times writes that the BAP series is not the actual best American poetry, but must represent “the fractured, fractious American poetry community. The problem, as the Yi-Fen Chou case demonstrates, is that this accommodation can be a tricky business when our ideas about excellence in poems collide with our ideas about the worthiness of poets.” For the cherry on top, Hudson appears to have appropriated the name from a high school classmate; not wishing to reveal herself under her married name, her family has stepped forward and asked Hudson to immediately stop using the name. [NPR, Project MUSE, Jezebel, Best American Poetry, The Stranger, New York Times]
- Independent Brooklyn publisher Melville House will publish the U.S. Supreme Court decision on marriage equality; the book will feature Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion, as well as including the dissenting opinions of Justices Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito.
- A new Authors Guild survey—the details of which release next week—has revealed that the majority of authors would live below the Federal Poverty Level if they relied solely on their income from their writing.
- Wordstock, Portland’s Book Festival, has announced their author lineup for the November 7th event, including Sandra Cisneros, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Jon Krakauer. LNL is proud to have interviewed several of the authors who will be participating at Wordstock, including Arthur Bradford, Liz Crain, Michael Heald, and Sara Jaffe.
- Just over a year after the sale of the company fell through, the Perseus Books Group is again looking to sell the company.
- A debut author has made her first novel (a YA fantasy) into a transmedia experience by hiring a veteran game designer to create a mobile app game (BattleKasters) with real-life scavenger hunt elements that embodies the principles of her fantasy world.
- From the Guardian, a list of 10 literary castles and country houses—is the list worthy, or did they miss a few?