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The White Pen Name generator (screenshot by the author for Hyperallergic)

Can’t get your latest poetry collection/humor listicle/cyberfeminist comic/experimental haiku manifesto published? Luckily for you, the Asian American Writers’ Workshop (AAWW) has a new tool that will confirm your artistic legitimacy and guarantee that your inbox won’t see another message that begins with “Sorry, but we don’t think this will be a good fit at this moment.”

White Pen Name, created by Britt Gudas, generates exactly what its name implies: random pseudonyms of white-sounding names at the push of a button, completely free for the taking the next time you draft another query.

Perhaps you’re a “Doug Parker,” a “Blake Reed,” or a “Paul Lewis.” Want a hyphenated name to jazz things up? Maybe “Seth-Cohen Hill” will do. Or try “Blake Baker,” since literary folk are suckers for alliteration, right? Or perhaps you’re daring enough to pose as a lady. How about “Madison Clarke” or “Amy Franklin?”

Of course, this is all in good fun, created in a response to last week’s controversy surrounding Michael Derrick Hudson, a white man who adopted a Chinese-sounding name that resulted in the successful publication of his poem after numerous attempts under his own name. Because everyone knows simply adopting a fictional pseudonym will instantly launch you into literary success. AAWW, though, had another, more serious response on the whole incident to further the conversation of Hudson’s exploitation of identity, gathering the thoughts of 19 of its writers. You may read each in full here.

Do let us know when you generate “Jonathan Franzen,” though.

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Claire Voon

Claire Voon is a former staff writer for Hyperallergic. Originally from Singapore, she grew up near Washington, D.C. and is now based in Chicago. Her work has also appeared in New York Magazine, VICE, Gothamist, Artnews, Smithsonian Magazine,...

3 replies on “Publishing Problems? Maybe You Need a White Pen Name”