Passing Fancy

Having been notified by Google Alerts that a new service is available that takes your original website and scours the web to check and see if your content is found elsewhere (that is, borrowed liberally without permission), I give another thought to what has to be my favorite take on plagiarism:

Lermontov: “…and remember, my dear Mr. Krassner, it is far more disenheartening to have to steal, than to be stolen from.”

— from The Red Shoes, of course

In another sense, poetry (at least good poetry, in which the author has said something from their unique perspective) is as difficult to pass off as one’s own work, if it is not, as it is difficult to use someone else’s driver’s license and claim it is you. The fact of the matter is that driver’s license pictures are purposely so horrible (I have yet to see one, from any state, that manages to even vaguely flatter its owner) and these photos are so unlike the license holder, for the simple reason that only the REAL and authentic owner of such a license would claim that the picture contained thereon is themselves. There is something to be said, in many respects, for the ultimate audacity of truth.

And with poetry, it is I have discovered the same. After all, it is only the most audacious explanation of a poem’s meaning (and that is typically the one that is at the polar opposite extreme from any literary critic or literature professor’s interpretation, although it need not be, which oft surprises both the poet and the professor LOL) that is typically the one belonging to the author. Perhaps it is too simple, perhaps too obtuse. But an imposter trying to pass off the piece as their own work would NEVER use that particular exegesis. And other poets (if not the caffeine-laden, vapid dilettantes who frequent readings and slams and/or think themselves by virtue of their own pomposity and inflated sense of gothic me-o-centrism to be the next Plath, Rimbaud, Morrison, Shelley, Bukowski or whatever) can tell the difference. In a heartbeat.

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