Letter from Poetry Magazine

Letter to the Editor

by Bruce Grant
Dear Editor,

Marilyn Chin had reason enough to be offended at Joseph Bednarik’s self-serving criticism of her translations without wheeling up the big siege engines of anti-racism, anti-sexism, and anti-imperialism. “Noodling” has nothing to do with pasta, either of the Asian or European variety, but is, rather, jazz slang, dating back to the late thirties, meaning “to improvise. . .in an informal or desultory manner.” Bednarik, as I read his criticism, seemed to be expressing the sentiment not that Chin’s translations were excessively “Oriental,” but that they were insufficiently literary—at least compared to those published by his employer. Racism, sexism, and imperialism are, sadly, very much still with us; but disposing of Bednarik’s criticisms—as Chin so ably did in her first paragraph—was, it seemed to me, a job better suited for a flyswatter than a battering ram.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Originally Published: October 23, 2008

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

September 2008

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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