'Yi-Fen Chou' Pen Name Controversy Takes Surprising Turn

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By Frances Kai-Hwa Wang

Michael Derrick Hudson, the white male poet who used a Chinese woman’s name as a pen name in order to get published, has now drawn the ire of the family of the real Yi-Fen Chou, also from Fort Wayne, Indiana, who also attended Wayne High School at the same time as Hudson.

"I think what he did was highly fraudulent and unethical," Ellen Y. Chou, communications director with the U.S. Department of Defense's Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, and sister of the real Yi-Fen Chou, wrote in an email to Fort Wayne’s The News-Sentinel. "His actions not only stole my sister's name, but also tarnished our family name through its association with him.”

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Calling for a formal apology and demanding that Hudson stop using her sister’s name, Chou explained that, unlike English, Chinese names are chosen with characters that are meaningful to the family and few people share the same names.

“If you look at his statement, it’s purely cynical, purely for publication,” Timothy Yu, Professor of English and Asian American Studies and Director of the Asian American Studies Program at University of Wisconsin - Madison, told NBC News.

Yu said that Hudson’s usage was not analogous to other writers using pen names for artistic reasons, to be taken seriously, or to distinguish between works. “Hudson is not making an artistic decision to use a pen name. It’s a scam," Yu said.

"Regardless how and where he got her name, he should still be made accountable," Chou said, "My family worked hard to achieve our success here in the U.S. We did not steal or assume someone else's identity to receive preferential treatment or to draw forth public attention."