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It’s puzzling to literary experts that a highly-esteemed Canadian poet would take the words of other writers and pass it off as his own.

Poetry detectives uncovered the apparent unabashed plagiarism of the Canadian poet laureate Pierre DesRuisseaux from a number of writers, including Maya Angelou and Tupac Shakur, reports the National Post, a Toronto-based publication.

Ira Lightman, a British poetry sleuth, raised serious questions about several poems in a book by DesRuisseaux, “Trances de vie,” which is written in French.

“It looks to me like a book of deliberate translations,” Lightman told the Post. “And yet there’s no crediting.”

DesRuisseaux, who died in January 2016, won the Governor General’s Award for French-language poetry in addition to serving as the parliamentary poet laureate. One of the poems in his 2013 book reads: “You can wipe me from the pages of history/with your twisted falsehoods/you can drag me through the mud/but like the wind, I rise.”

Here’s practically the same line of poetry from Angelou: “You may write me down in history/With your bitter, twisted lies, /You may trod me in the very dirt/But still, like dust, I’ll rise.”

He also has a poem that’s way too similar to Tupac’s “Sometimes I Cry.” DesRuisseaux writes: “When I’m Alone/ Sometimes when I’m alone I cry/ Because I’m alone. / The tears I cry are bitter and burning. / They flow with life, they do not need reason.”

Here’s what Tupac wrote: “Sometimes when I’m alone/ I cry because I’m on my own/ The tears I cry are bitter and warm/ They flow with life but take no form.”

Lightman told the news outlet that DesRuisseaux likely avoided detection because he wrote in French for an audience that’s unfamiliar with Angelou, Tupac and others who wrote in English.

The first clue that DesRuisseaux plagiarized other poets came from fellow Canadian poet Kathy Figueroa. She told the news outlet that more attention is needed on this issue, adding that it’s commonplace for established poets to steal the work of amateur authors without consequences. Figueroa said she has been a victim.

Lightman said he can’t explain why DesRuisseaux would plagiarize other poets. He’s also suspected of plagiarizing works from Dylan Thomas and Louis MacNeice.

SOURCE:  National Post


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Maya Angelou and Tupac Among Authors Plagiarized By Canadian Poet Laureate  was originally published on