Brief thoughts on using an Asian pen name

A poet named Michael Derrick Hudson has recently come under fire for using the pen name Yi-Fen Chou, apparently as a strategy to get his work published.  You can read more about it at NPR, WaPo, and Slate.  I don’t really want to wade into the controversy, except to make the following points:

  1. I am white, and blog under the pen name “Mei-Mei”
  2. I think I have been fairly clear about #1 on my blog?  I have at least intended to be.
  3. Based on this, it seems hypocritical for me to universally decry Hudson’s actions, but neither will I universally defend something that seems so ethically dubious.
  4. I think there are several key differences between Hudson’s situation and mine.  I am willing to go into further detail if anyone wants thoughtful discussion.
  5. I have updated my “About” page to explain why I use the pen name “Mei-Mei” (complete with terrible high school fan art), and I am happy to answer any follow-up questions anyone has.  I may write a longer post about it in the future.
  6. If I ever publish my fiction “for real,” I will be using my real name.

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