A Plague on Plagiarism

Magpie

I don’t understand why a poet would plagiarise another poet’s work. It goes so deeply against the reasons why people are drawn to poetry, both as readers and writers. It’s a betrayal of another and it’s a betrayal of self. It’s sad and it’s despicable. I suppose in the poetry community it’s just about the worse thing you can do. The financial rewards of writing poetry are not huge, certainly not worth risking one’s reputation for, because poets exposed as plagiarists pretty much become persona non grata to other poets. It’s worse than being a drugs cheat in athletics. You would have to be really lost to do it.

One of the worst ways in which plagiarism takes place, because of the intimacy and the direct betrayal of trust, is when a poet steals a fellow poet’s work in a poetry writing group or workshop, and even more so if it is the workshop leader actually doing the stealing! Real poets don’t magpie.

I run poetry writing groups in Bristol. Amongst the ground rules, discussed from time to time and always when a new person comes into the group, are the importance of confidentiality and the absolute prohibition against ripping off the work of fellow group members. Happily, plagiarism’s never been a problem for our groups.

Sadly, I’ve recently heard of a number of instances where plagiarism has taken place in poetry workshops, which is what prompts me to write this.

I would advise anyone attending a poetry workshop to raise the issue at the start of the workshop by reminding the group about the importance of respect, confidentiality and the prohibition against plagiarism, which includes nicking a line and altering it just a little bit. It might not stop a determined plagiarist but hopefully it will give them pause to consider what they’re doing.

And if anyone tells you it’s not plagiarism if the line concerned hasn’t been published, they are wrong and it is.

Be safe out there!

 

Bob Dylan brings it all back home … almost

Bob Dylan

The celebrated American photographer Barry Feinstein’s famous photograph of Bob Dylan standing on the jetty at Aust in May 1966, along with a visit to the same spot earlier this year, was the inspiration for our Deb to write a poem about this small moment in rock history, and the subsequent changes to this spot in the intervening years.

‘Bob Dylan waits for the ferry at Aust’ was the result, and the Leaping Word is delighted to announce that it has just been awarded fourth place in the 2019 Welsh Poetry Competition.

Congratulations to the writers of the winning poems, and all those on the short-list or with special mentions.

 

Our lass wins the 2018 Plough Prize Short Poem Competition

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So pleased here at the Leaping Word that ‘Oystercatchers’, a poem by our very own Deborah Harvey, has just come home with a shiny penny in its pocket, having been awarded first prize in the 2018 Plough Prize Short Poem Competition.

Of the competition, Judge Pascale Petit says: ‘I love short poems, but I know how hard they are to write, so it was with trepidation that I read this longlist. I need not have worried – the under-ten-liner is in good health. The challenge is to go as far as in a long poem, without the length! It’s all about compression and impact, making words as elastic as possible.

‘Oystercatchers’ does just that – every word is weighted. In ten short lines I see a figure like Leonora Carrington’s ‘The Giantess’, a powerful and spare enigma of a woman, oystercatchers, (with their red bills and legs), and blood cells. Although nothing is explicit, something important is being enacted, and the epigraph by Camus adds an anchor, so that we guess his are the words being taken to the sea and released from the heart. I kept coming back to this and getting more from it.’

The Leaping Word would like to extend its congratulations to the other winners in both categories of the 2018 competition, the Open and the Short Poem, and to all the short- and long-listed poets.

‘Oystercatchers’ will be included in Deborah’s forthcoming collection, The Shadow Factory, to be published by Indigo Dreams Publishing later this summer.