The poet Michael Derrick Hudson admittedly sent out his poems under the pseudonym Yi-Fen Chou. He adopted this strategy in order to attract more attention in a poetry world that increasingly emphasizes multiculturalism. It worked. A poem by Chou was selected for the prestigious Best American Poetry 2015 anthology, after being repeatedly rejected (as a poem by Hudson). Chou’s/Hudson’s subterfuge and selection has predictably upset lots of people — most especially poets whose work was not selected for this (or any other) anthology.
The editor of the anthology, award-winning Native American writer Sherman Alexie admits that in selecting Chou’s poem, he considered the poet’s name a plus. Alexie says that as a minority himself, he possesses a tendency (of which he is wholly conscious) toward viewing other non-white writers favorably, practicing a form of nepotism he says is as “common as oxygen.” The poetry world’s “yellow-face” controversy — an Asian-oriented version the maligned practice of black-face performing — does an excellent job of explaining why people all over the world love sports. (Sports results aren’t subjective and people therefore generally trust the outcomes.) In sports, for instance, you can’t simply change your name and start winning. As if to prove this point, Yi-Fen Chou is rumored to have entered numerous tennis tournaments under the name R. Federer. He loses every time.