I'm curious to take a look at "Imaginary Poets", an anthology of translations of made-up poets. It's 20 well-known poets, each asked to make up a poet, translate the poem to English, and write an essay about the poet and their work.
It's a fun and playful idea. I tend to like that sort of thing. I liked that book that was a fake translation of an imaginary ancient Greek poet. I love things like "Songs of Bilitis" by Pierre Louys - I even love Ossian and that whole strange cult of Ossian. Flat-out parodies charm me immensely...
And yet I find that the idea of project at this particular moment in our country's history makes me sad and angry. If I felt that people in this country knew anything substantial about non-US cultures, history, or other languages, maybe I'd be less pissed off. I think of all the excellent poets, dead or alive, who are NOT translated or well-known even in literary communities in the U.S. Great - we're so ignorant about other cultures and languages and poets, we think we get to invent them and make them up. I'd be embarrassed to make up a fake Latin American poet. If I were going to do that kind of project, I'd do it in the context of science fiction or speculative fiction, and would make up a completely alien culture, and I'd do it to make some interesting political point; this distancing allows for a lot of play and exploration... Science fiction writers use alien races to explore ideas of race, class, gender, and utopia - all the time in the U.S. today.
There is at least room for some thought and questioning, some room to be conflicted about art, poetics, humor, and politics.
I'm sure many of the people who contributed to Imaginary Poets considered issues of cultural imperialism and cultural appropriation. There's some excellent and thoughtful translators in the table of contents. I'm very curious to see the book and see what they did with the idea. Will I be so charmed by the book's witty cosmopolitan sophistication that I won't care about the cultural politics? Or will I just be more embarrassed than I am now? I'll read it and report back.