Someone wrote the following offensive (supremacist, imperialist) passage in a review of my poem “the years,” published recently in Guernica. Someone looked up that I was born in China, so my “unusual” use of English is “not so much the virtuosic rule-warping of the native genius” as it is “the radical deconstruction of something laboriously acquired, but no less impressive or useful.” I am consistently reminded that the dissolution of a native-born/immigrant binary is a fantasy. The genius and the laborer. I’m tired of white male self-styled vanguards of “the globe-straddling estate of English” (?!?!) easily casting us out of our language(s), laying claim to the totality of our experience while arrogantly evaluating an immigrant lexicon as still “impressive and useful.”
We cannot be virtuosic, only radical. We inherently, and without nuance, labor. We are to you subconsciously always perpetrating some criminal transgression against your language, even if occasionally you are pleased with the results of English being “broken into at innumerable points.” I reject this thinly coded deployment of a close-the-borders rhetoric—I lack “that ancient stuff,” for sure:
“Xu was born in China and educated in Iowa and Massachusetts. Her unusual use of English is not so much the virtuosic rule-warping of the native genius as the radical deconstruction of something laboriously acquired, but not less impressive or useful. ‘Nuisance,’ is also ‘new sense.’ Every lingua franca invites its own dis-assembly. The globe-straddling estate of English can (and should) be broken into at innumerable points. English can now be written without regard to rule and we are obliged to make sense of it. Poetry like Xu’s gives happy reason to do so. Her poem is even a visual pun. It resembles Old English verse. Almost every line is interrupted somewhere in the middle with a comma or period. The resemblance is only visual, though. Her verse lacks the alliteration, internal rhyme, and deep assonance otherwise associated with that ancient stuff.”
Link to full reviewhere.
Man, am i sick of white people today.