I want to mourn Yi-Fen Chou, the Chinese American woman poet who doesn’t exist. Her recent achievement, notable for the fact that she is not real, is snagging one of the 75 highly competitive slots in The Best American Poetry 2015. Ingeniously, she was formulated as the Stepford edition of the modern writer of color: a version of us who is white in all but name, who will never know the pain of having her name “bungled or half-bungled” by a well-meaning literary editor MCing her reading; who will never find any reason to celebrate spotting another Asian woman writer from across the vast AWP Bookfair complex; who will never be inconvenient or angry or vocal. Instead of being a real person—which is always so messy, so loaded with the things that make good poetry!—she is a mask, her name peeled off by someone who probably can’t pronounce it at all. Continue reading
Author Archives: Soleil Ho
Dating white people is tricky—when you’re a person of color. Even though the Supreme Court’s Loving v. Virginia decision legalized cracker fever in the U.S. 48 years ago, many American PoC still hesitate to embrace our lighter, whiter brethren (in the Biblical sense). Now, why is that? Shouldn’t we be rushing in droves to bring some of that Aryan hotness home to show our grandmas that we finally made it to the big time? Continue reading
I used to be one of those ideological pseudo-purists that only engaged with media that jived with my politics—a totally sustainable way of life if you want to think about !!Important Issues!! 24/7. Don’t get me wrong: I’m still all about Racebending and #WeNeedDiverseBooks, but American popular culture sure doesn’t make the struggle easy. Before I started working full-time, I had the mental fortitude to read plot summaries and cast lists to seek out media that passed the Bechdel Test at the very least, but the pacifying ease of shitty media slowly brought me over to the
Dark Bland Side. I had so few fucks to spare after standing in a 120˚F kitchen for 10 hours, and that’s how I ended up watching The Phantom of the Opera productions every night for three months.
Of course I rationalized it, passionately defended it to friends, and parroted a line found in every think piece: “But it’s actually really smart!” I’m standing in the cold, unfeeling light of Acceptance now, but it’s been a struggle. Here’s how it went down: Continue reading