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A mediocre poet wrote a mediocre poem. The Nation decided to publish it. In a normal world, criticism of the poem, and of the poet, would center on the quality — or lack thereof — of the work. But we don’t live in a normal world anymore.

Anders Carlson-Wee’s 14-line poem “How-To” is not much more than a collection of indiscriminate ramblings. Percy Shelley, he is not. But neither was it offensive.

The article goes on to state the following:

Apparently, the Twittersphere disagreed. And in the wake of criticism, Stephanie Burt and Carmen Giménez Smith, the Nation’s poetry editors, penned an apology that was longer, and significantly more disappointing, than the original poem. They claimed to have made “a serious mistake by choosing to publish the poem,” and insisted they were “sorry for the pain we have caused to the many communities affected by this poem.”

The poem reads as Carlson-Wee’s top tips to the homeless on how to secure donations. He advises those who live hard lives to say they are even harder: “if you got hiv,” Carlson-Wee writes, “say aids.” “If you’re a girl, say you’re pregnant,” and so on.

That the editors chose to capitulate to the loud voices of an ever-growing mob is bad enough. That they chose not to stand by a person and a poem they decided to publish is even worse.

Read the rest of the opinion piece at NY Post.

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