Friday, July 27, 2012

Plagiarism

I just got a message from a guy named Norm Levine accusing me of plagiarizing some lines from his poems. He further charged me of being his generic equivalent. That was a cheap shot.

Obviously, he’s an imposter, but the name sounded familiar. I checked my driver’s license and sure enough that was my name. In fact he is me… or rather, I.

My poet-self is now suing my blog-self. Some nerve! My only defense is that the words seemed better suited for a paragraph than a stanza. Those jagged right-hand margins can be dangerous. I once jabbed myself on one and bled purple for hours.

There is something about a phrase such as, aggravation was her longest word, it never stopped, speaking about my mother, which I regard as too low-falutin for such a high-falutin home as in a poem.

Or, writing about second bananas, Thank God, we don’t get to see the movie / of our lives before we live it /. Then we would know our place / by the billing alone / and the rest / wouldn’t be worth the price of admission.

I hope to settle our dispute out of court. Maybe I’ll write myself a check for $10,000. It will bounce anyway. It was no less than T.S. Eliot who advised us to steal rather than imitate. If theft is preferred why not from yourself?

A better solution would be a slow blurring of borders and dropping of labels; call it poetic prose or prosaic poetry. Lately I’ve found more poetry in novels than in poems. In the effort to divest itself of archaic language, much contemporary poetry reaches for the conversational. Poetry has become an anecdote with an irregular margin and a zinger at the end. In our poetry group the most severe criticism one can say about a poem is that it is too poetic.

Peggy's poems are different as are many fine poets. They have earned the designation. Her language stretches. It crackles with fresh metaphors and could not fit easily in a paragraph. The operative word is always, transformation.

As for that other Norm Levine, we’re going out for a beer and throw a few darts, hopefully not at each other. Maybe, over time, we’ll merge into one person.

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