Back in September, Viola Davis became the first African American to win an Emmy for best lead actress in a drama series. In her acceptance speech, she noted that plenty of black women are capable of winning the award, but there’s a lack of opportunity for actresses of color to demonstrate their talent. Her remarks provide a way in to some things that needed to be said about a controversy from earlier that month: Sherman Alexie’s selection of Michael Derrick Hudson for the prestigious Best American Poetry anthology. White poet Hudson had submitted his work for consideration under the name Yi-Fen Chou, an intentional misrepresentation of his ethnic background. 

I’m walking to the train, headed to the Rockaways. What better place to read the new editions of T.S. Eliot, author most famously of “The Waste Land,” than the New York neighborhood that became, for months after Hurricane Sandy, an actual wasteland? Would I see the destruction Sandy had wrought, and in it would I find a parallel to the destruction World War I had wrought in Eliot’s poems?