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Author Topic: Richard Tillinghast plagiarism in Hunger Mountain?  (Read 18254 times)
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richardtillinghast
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« Reply #15 on: November 16, 2006, 06:32:56 AM »

Hi,

Yesterday I posted a reply to the discussions of my use of Gillian Welch's lyric in my poem "A Love Story." It doesn't appear here. How long does it take?

Thanks, RT
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he chair she sat in, like a burnished throne
alan
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« Reply #16 on: November 16, 2006, 08:52:13 AM »

Thanks for stopping by.  It should have posted instantly.  It's possible you looked at the post in "preview" and then didn't submit -- something I've done many times.  I hope you'll repost.
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"You especially have to be hurt like hell before you can write seriously. But when you get the damned hurt, use it -- don't cheat with it.” -- Ernest Hemingway
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richardtillinghast
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« Reply #17 on: November 17, 2006, 05:58:18 AM »

Dear Foetry Forum people,

I've just been made aware of the discussion occasioned by my poem "A Love Story" in Hunger Mountain Review. The comments reminded me of what Oscar Wilde said:"There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about." In other words, as the subject of the stanza you quoted just put it while looking over my shoulder as I typed, "Isn't it good to know that people are reading poetry!"

A poet writing a poem is not a student writing a term paper. Poets and singers alike have always borrowed lines from other poems and other songs; it's called allusion. I refer you to "The Waste Land" by T.S. Eliot. Eliot quotes without attribution "The chair she sat in, like a burnished throne" from Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra, follows that up with "When lovely woman stoops to folly" from Oliver Goldsmith, etc., etc.

When Bob Dylan sings

Don't the sun look good going down over the trees?
Don't the brakeman look good flagging down the Double E?
And don't my gal look fine when she's comin' after me?

is he plagiarizing John Lee Hooker?


When Leonard Cohen in "A Thousand Kisses Deep" from his Album Ten New Songs, sings, also without attribution,

"And maybe I have miles to drive
and promises to keep"

do we suppose he is plagiarizing the ending of Robert Frost's poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"? My answer would be, no. He is alluding to the poem, borrowing from it, referring to it. Both poetry and song are full of this sort of thing. Sarah Waters' terrific novel Fingersmith, similarly borrows, alludes to, pays tribute to Dickens' Oliver Twist.

I happen to be listening to Gillian Welch's Time the Revelator  as I type this rainy Irish morning. I suppose I agree with her lines,

Everything is free now,
that's what they say.
Everything I ever done,
gonna give it away.

I used her lines from "Barroom Girls" because they beautifully fit the life of the character I was writing about. When I listen to her on Time the Revelator, I do not suppose she is plagiarizing an old blues song when she sings "My baby took the Katy, left me a mule to ride," though I have heard that song a hundred times—nor that she is plagiarizing other old songs when she sings about "Jack o' Diamonds" and says "Lord me die with my hammer in my hand" from "John Henry," nor do I feel she should footnote James Brown when she sings "The Grand Ole Opry's got a brand new bag." That's how this business works. Examples abound, both in poetry and in song.

If you would like to read my poem "One Morning a Rose Blooms" in the summer, 2006 Southern Review, also on www.versedaily.org/2006/morningblooms.shtml, you can tell me whether you think I'm plagiarizing a Christmas carol when I close my poem with the line "Noel noel noel."

Happy November to you. I have enjoyed participating in this discussion, and I hope what I have said will help you to see poetry in a broader way.
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richardtillinghast
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« Reply #18 on: November 17, 2006, 10:52:11 AM »

Hi.

I have replied twice to this discussion, clicking on "submit," and both times my reply doesn't appear on the forum. It does appear on the screen I am looking at now, under the heading Topic review, but not on the forum. What's up with this?

Thanks, RT
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Matt
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« Reply #19 on: November 17, 2006, 12:24:46 PM »

Quote from: "richardtillinghast"
Hi.

I have replied twice to this discussion, clicking on "submit," and both times my reply doesn't appear on the forum. It does appear on the screen I am looking at now, under the heading Topic review, but not on the forum. What's up with this?

Thanks, RT


Hi Richard,

I am sorry you are experiencing difficulties.

I haven't personally noticed any problems with the site or our server, and I assure you that there is neither any intention nor any capability among the Foetry.com "staff" to disrupt your posting in any way.

Since the Foetry.com server seems to be fine, the problems you are experiencing could have something to do with your connection.

What happens when you hit the "submit" button?  Does the screen “hang” at the posting screen, or does it proceed to a confirmation screen?

I’d like to try to help you get this resolved if possible.

Yours,
Matt
Foetry Admin
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alan
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« Reply #20 on: November 18, 2006, 08:45:12 AM »

Hi Richard,

I am a librarian by training, and have studied copyright and academic integrity pretty closely so that (besides personal interest), I can teach my students proper attribution.  While it was common at one time for someone to lift lines from Shakespeare or Eliot, now attribution is expected, even in a poem.  A footnote will do.

Also, I see a difference between alluding to a very famous line or two in a classic poem or a play (which presumably readers will know) and one in a song by a living songwriter.  She is alive; be generous and cite your source.

Dylan is probably not the best example, by the way.

All that aside, I'm really glad to have you here at foetry.com, and I'd love to read your input on some of the other discussions on the site.  Few poets of your stature have been willing to comment on what many of us here see as major conflicts of interest in po-biz.

Thanks,
Alan
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yohejohn
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« Reply #21 on: November 18, 2006, 11:18:36 AM »

Mr. Tillinghast:

Thanks for responding. Basically Alan already said what I'd say, but I'll say it anyway. Allusion works because people know what's being alluded to, ie everybody reading Eliot's Wasteland would have known that it was a quote from/allusion to Shakespeare (I'm not so sure that's the case nowadays, but that's another discussion).

Likewise, when Dylan using a Johnny Lee Hooker line, everyone in that 'community' would (or probably would) have know who's line he was borrowing from, if they're music fans and know Dylan's roots. Though not everybody would.

But likewise, Leonard Cohen using Frost's lines, which are very well known. (or were, erg...)

Is there a grey area? Or course. Not everybody knows Shakespeare. But, forgive me for saying this, you are not TS Eliot, and your poem doesn't have the epic feel that the Wasteland does. I agree with you about allusion in your examples, but what you did doesn't at all feel like an allusion. And that's coming from someone who recognized the Welch's lines.

It just doesn't seem to me Gillian Welch is in that 'well known' category. You and I are maybe the only ones on Foetry that like her (and for that I give it up to you for your good taste!) But allusion's are made to the 'greats'.

Also, that other verse you used of her, is from a song about how she's wondering wether she should keep making music in these days when anyone can download her songs for free. Which, to me, reinforces the idea that she wouldn't like people using her lyrics without at least giving her credit.

I'm sorry you had to end your letter with the 'noel noel' statement. Acting that way weakens your argument. In the big picture, I feel we have a lot in common, including Gillian Welch and poetry. Again, thank you for responding.

John
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Bugzita
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« Reply #22 on: November 18, 2006, 01:50:17 PM »

Rule of thumb: when in doubt, attribute.

I'm speaking as an academic here, not as a poet or writer.

Bugz
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ennifer Semple Siegel

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Monday Love
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« Reply #23 on: November 19, 2006, 09:43:00 AM »

The TS Eliot example is instructive; The Wasteland was neither a cultural reflection, nor a private gripe against the world, as has been commonly asserted, but a platform from which to launch the great blurring action between the poet and the professor, which has led to MFA/foetry.

The Wasteland was the poem-of-footnote, a poem ready-made for professorial analysis, and was a consciously manufactured poem--by a Harvard graduate--which a learned professor would logically write.

Previously, poems strove to be original, and competed in an actual marketplace.  With Eliot and Pound (the poet who 'translated' poems ignorant of the original language) a poetry industry was begun in which an air of learning replaced originality and sincerity.

The forces were prepared for well-connected fakes and frauds to make pretentious invasions of previously sacred territory.  Poetry itself was no longer valid; the hearts of readers no longer had to be won, now the academic pronouncement and artificial learning was all.

Poetry was now a matter of high-brow manipulation by well-connected academics.  A few books written by Harvard professors, explaining how poems pointed to a social or aesthetic theory won the day.

This is not to say that the 'sincere' workshop poem did not arise; not all poems were like the Wasteland; quite the contrary, the MFA student learned from the TS Eliot-like poet/professor, poets as professors the natural outcome of the Wasteland model (poet writing like professor with obvious quotes and borrowings)  and the academic guild system was put in place, as a commercial model with academic control replaced the previous 'street-wise' model.  A borrower (Eliot/Pound) could now short-cut himself to fame, just as foets would later short-cut their way to fame through corrupt prize-giving favoritism.

Richard Tillinghast's ho-hum attitude towards stealing is symptomatic of this greater problem.

Tillinghast claims his critics are being too fastidious.  Tillinghast feels it is 'cool' to steal.  The attitude is pervasive because it reflects something much deeper--which I have outlined above.

Notice it was Eliot who Tillinghast ran to immediately for protection.

Look at Ben Mazer's poem in the latest issue of Fulcrum in which he borrows liberally from TS Eliot.  The poem (brilliantly and cynically) is about Mazer the poet as "king."
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Bugzita
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« Reply #24 on: November 19, 2006, 02:10:15 PM »

Years ago, in a intro literature class that I taught, one of my undergraduates posed this theory:

"The Wasteland" and "The Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock" were written on a bar room napkin, with Eliot being nine sheets to the wind. At the time, I laughed, but now I wonder.  :shock:

Never underestimate the viewpoint of an undergrad.

Bugz
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ennifer Semple Siegel

One must always question wrongheaded conventional wisdom.
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