Tree Swenson, the director of the Academy of American Poets, has written a short note about “The Change” controversy, introducing all of the primary materials, which have been missing from the debate so far. Now you can download Hoagland’s “The Change” as read by Nick Flynn; Rankine's essay on the poem; Hoagland’s email response; and a closing poem by Rankine:

The goal of the Academy of American Poets is to represent, as much as possible, a wide range of contemporary poetry exploring the whole of human experience. Claudia Rankine's AWP reading presented a dialogue about Tony Hoagland's poem "The Change," and what Hoagland referred to as its racial complexity. The reading sparked many conversations, so the source material — both text and audio — is crucial.

Art is about our lives, and poetic language can lead to confusion and misunderstanding as well as illumination. Literature has the power to alarm, to console, to provoke, to heal, and — we hope — to lead individuals on the path of discovery and engagement. In her report, Rankine quoted Judith Butler saying, "Our very being exposes us to the address of another.... We suffer from the condition of being addressable."

Also, don’t forget, all you “The Change” controversy fanatics out there!, that Claudia Rankine is posting responses to her open letter on her personal website. Many poets and critics have already chimed in, and the debate seems to be alive and well—expect more writings on the matter.

Originally Published: March 16th, 2011