Step 1: Change name to something ethnic-y. Step 2: Get published. Step 3: Profit!
The publishing game is a real bastard. It's a lot like that English 438 class you took senior year, but the teacher is a complete hard-ass who only gives out F's. So it makes total sense that someone trying to sell their literature would try just about anything to get picked up (especially when it's poetry, which is even more brutal).
Just take this white dude, for example:
He's Michael Derrick Hudson, and he writes poetry. And if you think he looks like a librarian, you'd be right. He also works at one in Indiana — so you can imagine that waterfalls of fame and fortune don't often crash into him. He'd been trying to sell some of his poems, and kept getting completely stuffed. Then, he decided to flip the script and adopt a new, super-ethnic-sounding name. It totally worked, and now he's in The Best American Poetry of 2015.
It might sound like a douchey move, but he makes a decent argument:
"The poem in question, 'The Bees, the Flowers, Jesus, Ancient Tigers, Poseidon, Adam and Eve,' was rejected under my real name forty times before I sent it out as Yi-Fen Chou (I keep detailed submission records). As Yi-Fen the poem was rejected nine times before Prairie Schooner took it. If indeed this is one of the best American poems of 2015, it took quite a bit of effort to get it into print, but I'm nothing if not persistent," he writes.
"I realize that this isn't a very 'artistic' explanation of using a pseudonym. Years ago I did briefly consider trying to make Yi-Fen into a 'persona' or 'heteronym' a la Fernando Pessoa, but nothing ever came of it."
People, especially Asian people, are kinda pissed off about it. Franny Choi, a Frederick Bock Prize winner, told the press that the author’s deception is "cultural appropriation at its purest."
“When I was in the second grade, I stopped going by my Korean name, Jeong Min, because at seven years old, I already felt the shame of being foreign and the exhaustion of hearing my name butchered over and over again. As a kid, I tried to imagine myself as an author but worried about how to hide my obviously Korean surname. For Asian Americans, changing our names is a strategy to survive a racist and nativist America. Michael Derrick Hudson's pseudonym is cultural appropriation at its purest — it’s stealing from the struggle of people of color for a white man's personal gain.”
On Facebook, Timothy Yu, an English professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, came forward with his "Fuck off Mike" confession. “Like every poet, from time to time I write poems of which I am somewhat embarrassed. Once these poems have been rejected a multitude of times, I send them out again under the name of Michael Derrick Hudson of Fort Wayne, Indiana,” he posted.
They're not going to pull the poem from the anthology, though, because the head-honcho over there, Sherman Alexie, thinks doing so would make him look like a bitch.
Now, we're brainstorming what we should change our names to …