‘How-To’ offend readers: The Nation apologizes for poem
A short poem posted by the Nation now has an apology longer than the poem posted above it.
And one top publishing insider summed up: “If you wrote this all up as a satirical novel, no one would believe it.”
The magazine’s poetry editors, Stephanie Burt and Carmen Giménez Smith, have added above the poem: “We made a serious mistake by choosing to publish the poem ‘How-To.’ We are sorry for the pain we have caused to the many communities affected by this poem.”
And, “Some of our readers have asked what we were thinking. When we read the poem we took it as a profane, over-the-top attack on the ways in which members of many groups are asked, or required, to perform the work of marginalization. We can no longer read the poem in that way,” after some complained on Twitter.
The poem posted July 5 and Anders Carlson-Wee wrote on Twitter: “WHOA! I’m in THE NATION!!! Super ecstatic to have my poem, HOW-TO, in the latest issue.”
By Tuesday, he was tweeting: “To all who have voiced questions and concerns about my poem in the Nation: I am listening closely and reflecting deeply … I am sorry for the pain I have caused … I intended for this poem to address the invisibility of the homelessness … The fact that I did not foresee the reading of this poem and the harm it could cause is humbling and eye-opening.”
He’s even donating his publication honorarium to charity.
The apology did not work for critics, who’ve told him to take down the poem and “quit writing.”
One even said his use of the word “eye-opening” in the apology was “ableist.”
The poem included lines readers found offensive including, “Don’t say homeless, they know you is.”
Burt is one of the first trans faculty members at Harvard.
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