1. an act or instance of using or closely imitating the language and thoughts of another author without authorization and the representation of that author's work as one's own, as by not crediting the original author:
"It is said that he plagiarized Thoreau's plagiarism of a line written by Montaigne."
Synonyms: appropriation, infringement, piracy, counterfeiting; theft, borrowing, cribbing, passing off.
2. a piece of writing or other work reflecting such unauthorized use or imitation:
"These two manuscripts are clearly plagiarisms," the editor said, tossing them angrily on the floor.
"To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research." - Author unknown.
|Newcastle poet Sheree Mack|
In a "Write Out Loud's" article, "Poet apologises for 'appropriations' as poems are withdrawn from collection", we see a charge of of plagiarism leveled against Newcastle poet Sheree Mack. In her poetry collection, Laventille, Ms. Mack has included a number of "writing exercises": rewordings of published verse.
To illustrate, here is "Before Dawn on Lady Young Road", ostensibly by Sheree Mack:
And the breeze bears along as well,
from down by the port,
when the tide’s just so,
when the sewerage is just so.
And here is "Before Dawn on Bluff Road", which August Kleinzahler has confessed to writing:
And the wind carries along as well,
from down by the river,
when the tide’s just so,
the drainage just so,
In a workshop, we'd call these "[complete] rewrites"...but they'd be done solely for the author's benefit; no critiquers would dream of publishing them as their own work.
The first thing that strikes me is her choice of victims. If you're going to steal, why not swipe the best? My fingers refused to sully my fancy new keyboard typing out this unspeakable, cloying shite ("Riddle" by Vicki Feaver) so I had to cut and paste it:
Without you, I prefer the nights;
the darkness inside me
like the darkness around. All day
I am alone with my emptiness:
|Ira Lightman Photo by|
Greg Freeman / Write Out Loud
Ms. Mack's "apology" is the flimsiest excuse I've seen in a while: "What I have been guilty of is a slackness and carelessness in separating out writing exercises...from my readings". Ahem. Come Christmas, Santa Claus may be bringing coal to Newcastle.
|Smokestack editor Andy Croft|
Smokestack publisher Andy Croft told Write Out Loud: "I have now pulped all extant copies of Laventille, and I am preparing to print a new edition without ‘The Den’, ‘Mayleen’, ‘Mother to Mother’ and ‘A Different Shade of Red’ (which Ellen Phethean, Joan Johnston and Judy Jordan believe follow poems of their own too closely). The new edition will also include the following acknowledgements: ‘Men of Success Village’ after Douglas Dunn; ‘Before Dawn on Lady Young Road’ after August Kleinzahler; ‘Elise’ after Vicki Feaver; ‘Static Rain in Maraval’ after Jim Harrison; ‘The Last Lap’ after Louise Glück."
|Earl the Squirrel's Rule #157|
At the end of this tale there are some interesting twists concerning the intent to publish these rewrites with attribution (e.g. "'Elise' after Vicki Feaver"). If these are not sufficiently distinguished from the original, does Mr. Croft understand that he'll need the permission of the copyright holder? And that this permission will not be easy to obtain?
What is more, had Ms. Mack presented these as rewrites, along with the intact originals, she could have claimed fair use, it being a critical and educational exercise. If a place exists, this is where such derivatives would belong.
Context is everything.
¹ - And, sure enough, other discoveries/accusations are pouring in.
² - Next to having ghost-written "50 Shades of Grey", of course.
Your feedback is appreciated!
Please take a moment to comment or ask questions below. Failing that, please mark the post as "funny", "interesting", "silly" or "dull". Also, feel free to expand this conversation by linking to it on Twitter or Facebook. Please let us know if you've included us on your blogroll so that we can reciprocate.
If you would like to follow us, contact us confidentially or blog here as "Gray for a Day" please befriend us, "Earl Gray", on Facebook.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Earl Gray, Esquirrel