Kent Johnson Lived A Triple Life To Get His Poetry Published
Araki Yasusada was a survivor of Hiroshima whose poetry was discovered by his son after his death in 1972. That's already an Oscar movie all by itself, but the poetry was also deeply personal, describing the experience of seeing his wife and one of his daughters engulfed in flames.
And of course, it was all lies.
When people started digging into Yasusada's life, they discovered that his work was the invention of an obscure Japanese translator named Tosa Motokiyu. They then discovered this was also a lie, and both men were a white, middle-aged poet named Kent Johnson. More accurately, a middle-aged white Spanish teacher at an Illinois community college who really wanted to be a poet. Every publisher who intended to distribute Yasusada's work -- and there were several -- stopped the presses, and Johnson had a lot of explaining to do.
To this day, he's done very little. He admits that Yastusada never existed, but maintains that he was a creation of Motokiyu, "the pseudonym of an author whose express wish, stated in his will, was that his identity never be revealed." That's right, he wanted to be so anonymous that he needed a pseudonym for his pseudonym.