Wednesday, February 09, 2011

What Happens at AWP Doesn't Stay at AWP (or actually, no one knows what happened - Rankine & Hoagland: What Happened?)

So I reported not much happened at AWP in DC, but of course, things *did* happen, I just didn't hear about them until 4 days later.

There was a lot of excitement about Claudia Rankine's response to Tony Hoagland's response to her (possibly last year?) and his poem, "The Change" (oddly, it was featured on Garrison Keillor's The Writer's Almanac in 2008).  I have tried to piece together what happened, and honestly, I still don't have an accurate account.

It sounds as if Claudia called Tony out for writing a racist poem (see "The Change").  What she said at AWP this year, is still a mystery to me.

Jeannine Gailey and I tried to google it last night while she waited with me for my ferry, but interestingly, when we googled "Tony Hoagland" one of the choices that comes up for him is "Tony Hoagland Racist." (Seriously, how many poets do you google that have *that* come up as a most-googled choice by their name.)

Ron Silliman linked to Tisa Bryant's response from the reading (which I've linked up, but leads to "This content is currently unavailable" sign) after seeing it on Facebook, but either it's been taken down or is private.

I've decided this event is the most talked about thing no one has any idea about.

So, if you were there, please clue us in.  It's the biggest no-info available story from the conference, the biggest thing no one saw.

By the way, here's a poem by Claudia Rankine because I think it's important to focus on her (not T.) but on someone who said what she believed...I so admire that in people.

It's hard to stand up to "big names" in such a small fishbowl of poets, scholars, and readers.  So for me, I love that she did.  Though I wish I knew exactly what was said, so I could love it more (I'm making my own assumptions based on the little I know).

Anyway, to Claudia's work--

Here's a prose poem by her called "Don't Let Me Be Lonely."

And here's info about Claudia Rankine.


UPDATE 2/10/11:  Claudia does respond and you can find the links to that and another blogger who was there at this post.



  1. One of the very few things the Washington Post bothered to cover: the theft of "Busboy Langston", the cardboard cutout of Langston Hughes at the 14th Street location. (Busboys is named for Hughes.) The Post's gossips are having a field day with it. This morning, we learned that it was a poet who stole the cutout because he doesn't like that Busboys & Poets pays only $50 to poets who read there but "profits" substantially from appearances. Apparently, the cutout has been secreted somewhere. Busboys' owner was given a bit of space in the column this morning to have his say and vows simply to buy another.

    If I recall, a poets' march also got a picture in the Post.

  2. I was there and I have much to say, but I'm still formulating my response.

  3. Maureen,

    I heard about the theft. There was a "WANTED" sign on Facebook with the photo of the cut-out. Well, at least *something* from the conference was covered- not real poets, but at least the cardboard ones are getting some press. ;-) Thanks for your note.

    O-- I am so looking forward to what you have to say.

    all best,

  4. Hi Kelli,

    I heard a rumor that Claudia Rankine might post her essay on her website, I just looked for it and it's not there, but maybe soon?

    Warmly yours,

  5. Thanks, James. I hope she responds esp. since she has such an interested audience.

    Appreciate your note and your link.

  6. A recap:

  7. You might read this for starters:

  8. Claudia Rankine's response:


Always love to hear from you...and the anonymous option is open for those feeling shy.

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