Letter from Poetry Magazine

Letter to the Editor

by John Poch
Dear Editor,

Marilyn Chin’s claims of racism, sexism, and imperialism against Joseph Bednarik would be humorous if they weren’t so rancorous [Letters, June 2008]. His statement that her translation seemed “like. . .noodling around in the margins” is fairly innocuous. How is his criticism sexist? Women make noodles in kitchens? How is it racist? There are Asian restaurants called “noodle shops”? (In fact, the word “noodle” comes from the German.) How is it imperialist and hateful? Who knows? And what of “margins”? Oh, the margins of the page are really the margins of white patriarchal poetry?

Perhaps Chin’s translation is a decent one. She seems to justify the ”boo-hoo” in an interesting way. It’s a shame she had to resort to an ad hominem attack. When there are real racism and imperialism to be found all over, it’s disgraceful for a poet to try to manufacture some in the defense of her own work.

Lubbock, Texas

Originally Published: October 23, 2008

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This prose originally appeared in the September 2008 issue of Poetry magazine

September 2008




John Poch was born in Erie, Pennsylvania. He earned an MFA from the University of Florida and a PhD from the University of North Texas. The inaugural Colgate University Creative Writing Fellow, Poch also received the “Discovery”/The Nation Prize. His collections of poetry include Poems (2004), Two Men Fighting with a Knife (2008), and Dolls (2009). He teaches at Texas Tech University.

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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