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Old 09-10-2017, 05:10 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
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Default Ira Lightman on plagiarism, Guardian interview

'Plagiarists never do it once': meet the sleuth tracking down the poetry cheats: "his latest case is the most shameless yet".
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Old 09-10-2017, 07:47 AM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is online now
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Matt, thanks for sharing.

I tend the think there are pretty clear lines between intertextuality and plagiarism (how well known is the original being an obvious one), but the examples here seem well beyond "sloppy." Will Storr seems to paint Lightman as some sort of villain, but the writers who are blatantly stealing others' works are the real problem.
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Old 09-10-2017, 08:11 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Wow. It never ceases to amaze me that writers will take these crazy risks, especially people who are capable of writing their own poems. Who knows what makes them do it: writer's block, laziness, the thrill of getting away with something, desire for attention?

Susan
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Old 09-10-2017, 09:19 AM
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Andrew Mandelbaum Andrew Mandelbaum is offline
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I'm skeptical of the methods (and maybe the motivations) of the Lightman fellow. (Blood in the water mindset???) At least from the description of a few of these instances. The French poets stuff seems the least conclusive, at least from what info we have here. The mind makes the same connections along similar trails. The simplicity in some of the works makes coincidence believable. Plus a translation was involved that may have muddied the waters further.

The Mack business seems to be the really silly practice of using the scaffolding of another poem to riff on. In this case maybe it became a crutch. Bad taste, weak art but maybe not as intentionally rotten the Ward ripoffs appear.
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Old 09-10-2017, 06:00 PM
Max Goodman Max Goodman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Mandelbaum View Post
The French poets stuff seems the least conclusive, at least from what info we have here. The mind makes the same connections along similar trails. The simplicity in some of the works makes coincidence believable.
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DesRuisseaux had cut [Renwick's poem] down from 13 lines to nine, and added his own closer.
The things Renwick's poem mentions hardly seem inevitable enough to make it likely that another poet, coincidentally as a result of nothing other than thinking along similar lines, would choose 7 of her 11 and none that that her poem doesn't mention. Lightman seems to have been careful to find strong evidence.
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Old 09-10-2017, 06:15 PM
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Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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Where there is conscious appropriation, the motive would seem to me to be a form of sheer admiration: I want to have written that! (So I will -- have written that!)

But, but, I was (and am) actually guilty of unconscious appropriation of a line by W. B. Yeats. (Not telling which line!) When I was a callow, shallow, youth I unknowingly absorbed a (brilliant, it still seems to me) Yeats line, and then spat it out like a mother bird feeding her nestlings into a poem that I then went on to take in its own direction. It was only after I got a variorum Yeats to study (and, boy-howdy, I did) that I read the line I thought was mine in his work. Then I remembered reading him enthusiastically long before I got the variorum. Guilty I am, but it's a single line, and I really admire Yeats for my use of it. His is good, too.
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Old 09-10-2017, 06:31 PM
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Andrew Mandelbaum Andrew Mandelbaum is offline
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Originally Posted by Max Goodman View Post
The things Renwick's poem mentions hardly seem inevitable enough to make it likely that another poet, coincidentally as a result of nothing other than thinking along similar lines, would choose 7 of her 11 and none that that her poem doesn't mention. Lightman seems to have been careful to find strong evidence.
Have you seen the French version? I can't find it in the article and not much comes up regarding this case in English.

I would like to see Lightman's methods applied to a control group. Would he "find" plagiarism everywhere? The most clear cases were not found by him but merely reported to him. Something seems like bull here. Not all the instances. Something is off.
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Old 09-10-2017, 06:35 PM
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I wonder how many great lines have been written twice or more times, independently. And whole poems flowing in very similar patterns when we are exposed to the same algorhythms, images, and progressions more and more will become more common, especially in overworked, tired minds pushing for output.
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Old 09-10-2017, 07:07 PM
Max Goodman Max Goodman is offline
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Originally Posted by Andrew Mandelbaum View Post
Have you seen the French version?
I take Storr at his word about the poems' similarity. It would be awfully sloppy of him to characterize DesRuisseaux's poem in the way I've quoted above if it included things (other than the closer) that weren't in the poem Lightman accuses him of plagiarizing. Some journalists are sloppy; maybe it's sloppy of me to assume Storr isn't one of them.

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I wonder how many great lines have been written twice or more times, independently.
Yes. One line is a very different matter. I take that to be a large part of the point of what Storr calls Lightman's golden rule, that plagiarists never do it once.
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Old 09-10-2017, 07:37 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Mandelbaum View Post
I wonder how many great lines have been written twice or more times, independently. And whole poems flowing in very similar patterns when we are exposed to the same algorhythms, images, and progressions more and more will become more common, especially in overworked, tired minds pushing for output.
Fair enough, but you've seen examples by poets Lightman has gone after, right? (Ward, Mack, Nunn, being the only three where I've seen examples). You know that this is not what they were doing? They were very clearly taking whole poems written by other people and changing words and phrases and here and there, maybe adding or removing the odd line, and not crediting the original; they did so multiple times, and have admitted to doing so. Most likely you do know this and were making an independent point, but I just thought I'd check.

Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 09-10-2017 at 07:49 PM.
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