Books
  • Furious Lullaby (Crab Orchard Series in Poetry)
    Furious Lullaby (Crab Orchard Series in Poetry)
  • Names Above Houses (Crab Orchard Series in Poetry)
    Names Above Houses (Crab Orchard Series in Poetry)
  • A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry
    A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry

  • Requiem for the Orchard (Akron Series in Poetry)
    Requiem for the Orchard (Akron Series in Poetry)

Anthologies

Oliver's work can also be found in the following anthologies.

  • Tilting the Continent: Southeast Asian American Writing
    Tilting the Continent: Southeast Asian American Writing
  • Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation
    Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation
  • Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia, and Beyond
    Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia, and Beyond
  • From the Fishouse: An Anthology of Poems that Sing, Rhyme, Resound, Syncopate, Alliterate, and Just Plain Sound Great
    From the Fishouse: An Anthology of Poems that Sing, Rhyme, Resound, Syncopate, Alliterate, and Just Plain Sound Great
Search
Online Poetry Journals

Oliver de la Paz’s Requiem for the Orchard is a love letter to memory and its ability to both sustain and shatter us beyond the “dust of ourselves,/ cold, decisive, and purely from the earth.” de la Paz renders in beautiful and exacting language the tenderness and ferocity of boyhood, alongside the enduring vulnerability of parenthood.  Out of such intimate recollection a generous wisdom blossoms.   

—Jon Pineda, author of
The Translator’s Diary

« More on Hoagland & Rankine | Main | Post-Conference Report »

Hoagland vs. Rankine at AWP

Yes, I was at the reading. It was powerful. Moving. And any amount of conversation I attempt to reproduce what happened would not do the moment justice.


Claudia's response was not an easy, quick response. It was complicated, full of further problems and questions. Strangely, so was Tony's response, even though I do not agree with him.

The larger question of responsibility still looms. I'll keep thinking about it awhile longer. It'll be something I need to grapple with for some time. In the meantime, here's something from Claudia's website:


Dear friends,


As many of you know I responded to Tony Hoagland’s poem “The Change” at AWP. I also solicited from Tony a response to my response. Many informal conversations have been taking place online and elsewhere since my presentation of this dialogue. This request is an attempt to move the conversation away from the he said-she said vibe toward a discussion about the creative imagination, creative writing and race.

If you have time in the next month please consider sharing some thoughts on writing about race (1-5 pages).

Here are a few possible jumping off points:

• If you write about race frequently what issues, difficulties, advantages, and disadvantages do you negotiate?

• How do we invent the language of racial identity--that is, not necessarily constructing the "scene of instruction" about race, but create the linguistic material of racial speech/thought?

• If you have never written consciously about race why have you never felt compelled to do so?

• If you don’t consider yourself in any majority how does this contribute to how race enters your work?

• If fear is a component of your reluctance to approach this subject could you examine that in a short essay that would be made public?

• If you don’t intend to write about race but consider yourself a reader of work dealing with race what are your expectations for a poem where race matters?

• Do you believe race can be decontextualized, or in other words, can ideas of race be constructed separate from their history?

• Is there a poem you think is particularly successful at inventing the language of racial identity or at dramatizing the site of race as such? Tell us why.

In short, write what you want. But in the interest of constructing a discussion pertinent to the more important issue of the creative imagination and race, please do not reference Tony or me in your writings. We both served as the catalyst for this discussion but the real work as a community interested in this issue begins with our individual assessments.

If you write back to me by March 11, 2011, one month from today, with “OPEN LETTER” in the subject heading I will post everything on the morning of the 15th of March. Feel free to pass this on to your friends. Please direct your thoughts to openletter@claudiarankine.com.

In peace,

Claudia
openletter@claudiarankine.com

Reader Comments (2)

Hey O,

So, what was the text of the Hoagland response?

It seems that Hoagland took some stance that it was indeed a "WHITE" persona poem, a great WHITE Greek chorus like poem, but at the same time he did not want to exclude himself as a possible speaker in that chorus. Meaning, he did not want to come off as "above" being a racist. That's tricky. Meaning, not usually successful.

Still, I can see how AI adopts the speaker of the oppressor or Bidart's HERBERT WHITE, of course. I can see how it is human to reach out and humanize the evil around us. I can see that. More importantly, it's a vital act. So I can see how Hoagland may have wanted to humanize the racist, to make us feel for him.

So, whether or not Hoagland's poem is racist or the speaker in the poem is racist is sort of besides the point. The question is: is it a good poem? I don't think it is due to the fact that it largely uses its content to justify its language. In poetry, that's a bad idea. In other words, the poem is not really believable. I don't believe the speaker when he says "my kind, my tribe". I've been white nearly all my life, and I've never heard even my more racist 'friends" use such language. It's an utterly unbelievable gesture. I imagine there are a ton of overt racists who might say "my race" or "my people" but not "tribe". Hoagland seems to be trying to play a pun, a pointed irony, but man did it bomb! Yes, whites tend to be racist, but they don't think or talk like that. Yes, Irish will think like that about being Irish. Italians about being Italian, Jersey about being Jersey, Greasers about being Greasers, but not about being white. Not in those terms.

Of that cohort of bigots who may think or talk about the WHITE RACE, the failure of nuance is rampant. It is not a nuanced position. If the poet was trying to bring a sense of humanity (and elegy evidently) to the dumb world view of the overt racist as it shifts away from him, then the poet surely could've done a better job. But the setting and situation, the language employed, and the odd rhetorical stance of saying: I am at once a part of the crowd and the crowd sings together like this...Well, I just think the poem is bad, and part of what we are not saying is the ramifications of the quality of the poem, not just the legitimate concerns that have risen from this feeble attempt.

Funny, I like Hoagland's poems mostly. But, again, I don't believe the speaker in this case. Maybe if the poem was handled better, we would be having a different kind of discussion.
February 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJames
I put a summary of the Hoagland email response to her response to his poem up on my blog. It was, to say the least, a textured moment.

http://jjgallaher.blogspot.com/2011/02/rankine-at-awp-part-3-tony-hoaglands.html
February 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Gallaher

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