Of copying, proximity & plagiarism

I was considering writing a poem. But I’m a little bit grumpy beyond writing poetry at the moment so I’m gonna bloggy blog which I rarely do. I’m gonna rant about poetry writing for a bit.

Plagiarism & copying are icky on a good day. & like it’s a big topic in academia. I’m not going to talk much about that, because the solution to plagiarized essays, largely lies in post-secondary school & grading reform; with notable exceptions for leeway to not be dealt out, as it consistently tends to be, for the greatest offenders, the most privileged among students.

Affluenza is a big motivator for a lot of things done & often blamed for existing amongst marginalized people, for reasons I think we all understand.

But…it takes a special kind of annoying writer to do this with creative writing, & especially with poetry.

Because witaf would you write poetry for publication for, if you couldn’t think of anything original to say? Like why even? It must be so frustrating & defeats the entire purpose of writing poetry.

Good poetry & poetic craft, including poetic prose forms come from a very visceral & subconscious place. You can’t fake that in the long term. It comes off as contrived.

Poetry is like music. It’s a practice of instrumentation & composition. It also shares qualities with painting & drawing & fine art in general as well. I would argue also, journalism, science & philosophy. Because of the importance of observation, experimentation, coding & semiotics.

Copying is completely counter-intuitive to writing poetry. It goes against what poetry is.

If you want to be good at poetry: learn everything you can about everything & copy none of it.

Grapple with it.

Develop a unique aesthetic that’s informed.

This next one is important, especially for English language poets: stop living in the past & in the so-called ‘cannon’ or like Harry Potter. Read more & different things. Listen to the world & listen to people.

Poetry is everywhere & it’s everything. It’s not Latin & Greek Classics + Jane Austen or some shit. You will not get much original in form or content out of your weird Victorian nostalgia, I guarantee it.

This is the biggest problem I see with poets who copy & plagiarize. They have very limited or superficial interests in literature. Period.

That’s why, someone like Kafka, is unique in the ‘cannon’, because he worked at a desk job in a bank, & he used that in his writing. He had a crisp clear style like you would use to write a memo or a letter, juxtaposed with a completely surreal, allegorical kind of parable style of writing.

So he could write these really interesting stories, in a very almost matter of fact delivery. He was both completely literary & completely immersed in the every day & his own reflections.

& btw, he was insecure about his writing, & he wasn’t walking around being a bully about it like some people…he was shy & hid his writing, another sad marker of a lot of serious & good artists.

We can be bold & share, but still recognize that he was such a meticulous, careful & beautiful writer, & he hardly showed that work to anyone…that’s how much he cared about the craft itself.

Such a perfectionist, he couldn’t bring himself to finish many of his brilliant works; many of which have been published without endings, post-mortem, because his bff was like ‘um nope these are really amaze & they can’t go in the trash can!!!’ Thank you to that guy. Omg.

Of course we don’t even read him in English classes, even though his work translates very well & has been well translated…that’s how silly & limited English language & literature education is…

I like flowery words too sometimes. But like…using them in place of a story or really working on the process, the movement of a poem, is a big mistake.

Certain linguistic flourishes & arcane vocabulary should be used musically & aesthetically, where applicable, not to cover up the stench of derivative & conceptually vapid writing.

Having been plagiarized/copied twice in the last year alone, I can tell you, it’s really not a good look…

Living in the past + derivative writing, & referring to like Thoreau, Wordsworth, Plath & Bukowski or like Attwood & King, ad nauseam, isn’t going to make you an original writer. I promise you. Branch the fuck out.

As I said, poets & poetry are everywhere.

Stop copying. Stop it.

It must be extremely frustrating to write poetry from the places I just criticized.

This has everything to do with the devaluing of poetry & a misplaced snobbish literary definition of poetry, which consciously or unconsciously excludes poetic forms & learning which don’t trace back to like Greek dramas & Chaucer.

& it’s affecting access (as it’s designed to do) for a lot of people who are influenced by other things.

I mean I love a lot of mid 20th-century writing from around the world. But is that all I love? No never. Because I also recognize its context & realize there’s soooo much other exciting creativity out there.

I also love contemporary art & poetry across genres. I love ancient Buddhist writings, just to name a few of my interests.

I get inspired by things such as reading fashion magazines, zines, even fliers; as would a collagist, bricolaging different materials & making something new & original…not by copying, by engaging & grappling with the material.

Anyway. Rant out. But like stop copying, & start writing from deep within yourself.

Develop your own style while you learn technique, just as you would with drawing, for example.

Not happy to be excluded from things by people who baffle me. Poetry is the last thing I would write & show to people if I couldn’t be original…

In fact, when I can’t make the poetry I want to, I do turn to other forms of writing & art. Because honestly, it would be to me like writing a song specifically for piano, without a piano.

It makes no sense.

© Niliema Karkhanis

Authour’s note: hopefully my little essay here will also address the intensely arrogant attitude that felt it could literally comment on my professional poetry website about ‘what prose is,’ like I don’t know wtf I’m talking about.

& the one that thought they could just rip my original words right off unapologetically 🙃

P.s. & regarding the concluding sentence of my essay, you’re not John Cage. So don’t even…

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