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Unread 08-16-2018, 09:41 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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I agree with most of what you say, Walter. Apart from your assertion that the poem is unquestionably 'tone-deaf' and 'bad and embarrassing'. Are these qualities really inherent in the poem, or is it that political squeamishness can't allow us to separate the voice of the poem (old homeless black guy) from the reality of the poet (young skinny white guy). The voice seems authentically enough rendered to me, though being English I'm no expert (I honestly thought the speaker could have been a southern 'poor white' stereotype). Can anyone honestly say that if they didn't know the identity of the poet, they would know this was written by a white person? Should that matter in a persona poem or are some identities off-limits? This is the crux of the issue isn't it? We talk a lot on the sphere about poems having 'earned' the right to address certain experiences. I'm not saying the poem is great, but for me it was the poet's 'appropriation' of the experience of being homeless, as much as his use of black vernacular, that rang my 'exploitation' alarm. But nobody seems concerned with that.

Anyway, I don't think The Nation should have done anything. Maybe not published the poem haha. But once they had – don't apologise. Don't feel an obligation to print poetic 'responses'. The offended already have an audience: Twitter. I hear it's massive. Well ok, don't The Nation have a 'letters to the Editor' section? A couple of disgruntled emails in there would have been enough.

(Nice coat btw)

Last edited by Mark McDonnell; 08-16-2018 at 09:57 AM.
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