Saturday, June 11, 2005

Asian American Poets and Representation

I wonder whether anyone has done a recent study on a statistical racial breakdown of poets with MFAs, published books, and/or poets published in "leading" literary/poetry magazines. It would quite possibly be interesting...

My wild guess would be that Asian Americans are not statistically underrepresented vis-a-vis the general population (4 percent of the American population is Asian American) in any of these three categories, except possibly with particular literary/poetry magazines. In addition, I would imagine that certain ethnic groups (e.g., southeast Asian American ethnic groups) are not represented at all. But I think that, among older and more established poets, there are relatively few Asian Americans.

In general, I think that there should be more empirical studies done on the all-too-voluptuously fascinating world of poetry. Perhaps one could compare the demographic breakdown of poets (e.g. in terms of race, gender, religion, etc.) with the demographic breakdown of the general population.


Blogger Bryan Thao Worra said...

As a side note:

Recently, I wrote the NEA.

I was miffed at the total exclusion of the API community in their study of the decline of literary reading in the United States.

Their response was some mumbled excuse about funding, which seems quite peculiar given that other communities of color were included in the study.

I suppose once again we'd become the invisible minority and that our habits didn't count when it came to the arts.

Admittedly, while the report ultimately wasn't really that interesting or surprising to the general reader, it gives, at the very least, an incomplete, if not distorted picture of the situation in America.

This is definitely an example of why we really need to be more proactive about getting our communities reflected and represented in studies regarding the arts.

But we could probably go on about this for weeks...

9:37 PM  
Blogger Roger Pao said...

Hey Bryan,

Thanks for the post! Yes, A LOT of national studies fail to include Asian Americans (forget about any subgroups). The claim is usually statistical insignificance, but I'm often skeptical. With these types of studies that don't include Asian Americans, I often wonder what category Asian Americans do fall under? My guess would be "white." And my second would be that Asian Americans are left out altogether. I wonder which is worse.

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