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.