At this point, we’re barely surprised when a mainstream news outlet like The Washington Post appends a correction to a story, or when a site like The Root pulls a viral story about Russian hackers changing votes from its site for “editorial review.”
But it’s really something to see an outlet publish an editor’s note as long as the one in The Nation apologizing for a poem that made it into print. Check this out from poetry editor Stephanie Burt, who teaches English at Harvard but was apparently didn’t “get” this poem.
— Stephanie Burt (@accommodatingly) July 24, 2018
As poetry editors, we hold ourselves responsible for the ways in which the work we select is received. 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. We recognize that we must now earn your trust back. 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.
The writer of the poem tweeted it in full, so here you go:
This poet was happy about getting published in the Nation. But then the poetry police struck. Look through the comments. Warning: Pettiness and spite ahead. https://t.co/Y9cHKatUo2
— Christina Sommers (@CHSommers) July 30, 2018
Let’s say it didn’t go over well with everyone.
Whoa. WHOA. What did I just read?
— Patricia Smith (@pswordwoman) July 24, 2018
Is this real? Can this not be real? I’ll be over here waiting for your weird nonapology explanation of your bro craft.
— E. Kristin Anderson (@ek_anderson) July 24, 2018
yo fam. I'm trying to understand the voice in this poem. It feels offensive to me and like it's trafficking inappropriately in Black language but is there something i'm missing? Help me understand.
— Nate Marshall (@illuminatemics) July 24, 2018
Thank you for this, Nate. I have similar concerns.
— Airea D. Matthews (@aireadee) July 24, 2018
this poem reads like google translate for AAVE.
— Geoff Trenchard (@GeoffTrenchard) July 24, 2018
AAVE: that’s African-American vernacular English.
Ebonics my dude
— Souls Bandicoot (@Logicles) July 30, 2018
I am astounded so many people thought this broken, uninspired, insensitive thing worth publishing. It's, uh, pretty godawful.
— Joey Gould (@toshines) July 24, 2018
It's not a great poem, and it's a terrible look.
— I'm tired (@pfeil) July 23, 2018
Why does it use aave grammar?
— I'm tired (@pfeil) July 24, 2018
If you're gonna use AAVE, use it right cause this is so cringy. ??♀️
— art mami ? (@artsyheau) July 25, 2018
Who speaks for whom matters, who gives advice to whom– and from what positions of power– matters. You don't get to speak for people and tell them how to navigate their situations of powerlessness! So many kinds of wrong here.
— Heather June Gibbons (@heatherjuneg) July 24, 2018
The people and voices and races and ethnicities and disabilities you've appropriated for this poem, the people in the real know? Listen to them when they say NO because they know what you don't and won't ever know.
— Kerry Neville (@mommamaybemad1) July 24, 2018
— John Manuel Arias (@johnmanuelarias) July 24, 2018
This is the worst poem I’ve ever read.
— L3 but Prison Abolitionist #OperationPUSH (@jaZiFRESH) July 24, 2018
No to this.
— Nikki Wallschlaeger (@nikkimwalls) July 24, 2018
amazing, how much you have to say in the name of others for your own gain, and yet you’re too cowardly to face any consequences
— wrecker of imaginary homes (@notevenjokingmr) July 24, 2018
This could be the world's worst poem.
— A. J. Honoré (@AJHonore) July 24, 2018
Cultural appropriation and damaging stereotypes, at their finest.
— Mike Alvarez (@mfalvarez121) July 24, 2018
I cannot believe that I used to look up to you.
— RJ Equality Ingram (@RJEquality) July 24, 2018
Holy shit, this is so much worse than people prepared me for.
I suppose, on some level, this is exactly what I'd expect The Nation to publish?
— NeilDeGrassyNicKnolltyHigh (@Hanksingle) July 28, 2018
Yeah, dear white dude bropoets, have several seats. Whatever these fragments are, they feel deeply offensive & appropriative. But don’t take my word for it—listen to greats like Aires D Matthews & Patricia Smith & Nate Marshall. Sit. Listen. Apologize & pull this shit.
— Liz Purvis (@lizpurvis9768) July 24, 2018
The Nation is cancelled, this poet is cancelled
— CATHERINE CHA♍️BERS (@CatChamberz) July 24, 2018
Congrats on ending your own career as a poet I guess. Wild that this was even published.
— Gabriel Solis (@tierraycaldo) July 24, 2018
Hey man this is racist. Do better. And shame on the nation for publishing it.
— Hushard Benedict Bonina Brown (@csilverandgold) July 24, 2018
This is the most offensive and awful piece of garbage. A poor and delusional attempt at being edgy.
— Marisa Crane (@marisabcrane) July 24, 2018
That's not a poem.
— E.F. Silk (@CanadaNRx) July 24, 2018
This reminds us of that time two weeks ago when actor Mark Duplass got dragged for calling Ben Shapiro a “genuine person.”
The editors made this noteworthy statement: “As poetry editors, we hold ourselves responsible for the ways in which the work we select is received.”
So however I receive a poem, they’re responsible for it? https://t.co/3T5cPU34yO
— Conor Friedersdorf (@conor64) July 30, 2018
The safe-space culture has officially infested the arts. You people should be ashamed.
— Terrance H. (@TerranceRAH) July 28, 2018
I read the poem. It's a crappy poem in my opinion. But I fail to understand how it's profane or racist. So now all poems have to have a particular political agenda that you approve of?
— Veritas Apocalypse (@VeritasApoc) July 28, 2018
You will now be introduced to the #left. Their demands & grievances will demand compliance.
— The 4EE Group (@The4EEGroup) July 30, 2018
Carlson-Wee is trying to do his penance:
— Anders Carlson-Wee (@AndersWeePoet) July 24, 2018
Of course: Vox explains why Mark Duplass was right to apologize for calling Ben Shapiro 'a genuine person' https://t.co/XGaP14mhoU
— Twitchy Team (@TwitchyTeam) July 20, 2018