appropriation by any other name

May 19, 2015

no plagiarismGiving new meaning to the phrase found poetry, a writer has issued an apology for her book of poems that “appropriated” the words of other poets. The publisher, Smokestack Books, has destroyed the remaining copies of the book.

While we’d probably agree that plagiarism is theft and serves no one, most of us keep notes or notebooks, as did the writer in question, jotting down favorite lines and words, and even copying out entire poems.

This is all well and good until it comes to sharing those words as one’s own — out loud, online, in print — without scrutinizing every phrase for originality, crediting the author as appropriate (in epigraphs, for example, or in form/style modeled after another poet’s work) or requesting permission to use an author’s phrase (credited, of course).

(When in doubt about a string of words, Google; put a phrase in quotation marks to search for instances of that exact phrase. This won’t turn up unpublished works, but is otherwise pretty reliable.)

Actual found poetry is no exception. The submission guidelines for The Found Poetry Review are explicit on this subject: “Due to copyright sensitivities, all submissions MUST include information about the source(s) incorporated into the poem.”

Read the story here.
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One Response to “appropriation by any other name”

  1. Sandra F. Lucke Says:

    Good article from educational standpoint. Similar copyright workshop was presented by Northwest Design Association to writers, graphic designers, filmmakers, photographers, and publishers in the early 2000.


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