In the most recent issue of the PEN America journal, we published an excerpt of the poem “WHEREAS” by Layli Long Soldier under the title, “To Exhaust a Horse.” This was a mistake, and we are sorry. We have a profound respect for Layli Long Soldier’s work, and our intent was to honor “WHEREAS.”
Our practice has been to entitle pieces excerpted from longer works with a quotation from the excerpt. We selected “To Exhaust a Horse” because we believed that its poetic inversion of a “tired” phrase—“to beat a dead horse”—resonated with the complexities of Long Soldier’s deconstructive project. We intended for it to provide an echo of the varied ways in which “WHEREAS” consistently challenges our expectations of language, its violence and power. We can see now that this editorial decision was misguided, and did quite the opposite. It has caused pain, and has reinforced harmful stereotypes that the poem so powerfully disrupts.
We will correct the title of “WHEREAS” online and distribute an emailed correction with apologies to those who have received the journal.
PEN America: A Journal for Writers and Readers