One would think that plagiarism is something that people who are unsure of their poetic abilities do. But in the essay ‘Plagiarists never do it once’: meet the sleuth tracking down the poetry cheats we learn that plagiarism is something of a profession that some poets take up.
“It led to a Canadian government web page where a poem had been chosen to honour the memory of Pierre DesRuisseaux, Canada’s fourth parliamentary poet laureate, who died in early 2016. The poem, it said, had been translated from DesRuisseaux’s French original. Lightman read the opening lines: “You can wipe me from the pages of history/with your twisted falsehoods/you can drag me through the mud/but like the wind, I rise.” The poem was called I Rise. Next, Lightman looked up the Maya Angelou. “You may write me down in history/With your bitter, twisted lies/You may trod me in the very dirt/But still, like dust, I’ll rise.” The poem was called Still I Rise.”
Maya Angelou wasn’t the only one this poet seemed to have hacked and it took a poetry sleuth like Ira Lightman to uncover the crime. Lightman behaves like a journalist looking for patterns. He also faces much flak for his fault-finding enthusiasm. Read more about the journey of this poetry sleuth.
While for some, plagiarism is a possible career choice, for others, and that includes the larger number of struggling writers, it’s rewriting. Thomas E. Ricks had written a couple of books already which was why he was surprised when his manuscript that was the result of heavy research received an unforthcoming response. But instead of being completely crushed beyond no return, he took the criticism with an open mind and began to reconstruct his novel very much like a carpenter stripping down an old house and building a new one.
Read The Book he wasn’t Supposed to Write and understand that the first draft or what you end up showing the editor is just the beginning of a long journey. A good editor can save the manuscript and leave you with happier readers.