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Backlash after the Nation apologises for publishing controversial poem

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Anders Carlson-Wee’s How-To has been accused of racism and ableism, but some writers say the magazine should not be scared to offend

A fierce debate has broken out in US literary circles after the progressive magazine the Nation apologised for publishing a poem in which a white poet assumes a black vernacular.

The young American poet Anders Carlson-Wee’s poem How-To was published in the Nation in July. Assuming the voice of a homeless person, it opens: “If you got hiv, say aids. If you a girl, / say you’re pregnant – nobody gonna lower / themselves to listen for the kick. People / passing fast.”

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