Appropriation without Acknowledgement


At Electric Literature, an anonymous writer shares her personal experience with a creative writing classmate who plagiarized other poets. The writer poses the question of when writing crosses the boundary between respectful mimicry and plagiarism:

When have I changed [a poem] enough that the poem is now in my possession, my creative and intellectual property? One of my students recently noted, “You can do anything in poetry, can’t you?” I answered yes, but qualified the statement: “As long as you don’t appropriate without acknowledgment.” Certainly, there are ways to acknowledge, maybe include a footnote or put beneath the title:”‘after [insert poet’s name].” What is the best way to do this? What are the rules exactly? Where is “the line?”

Olivia Wetzel is a student taking time off to live and work in San Francisco. If she could be any animal, she’d be a penguin. She’s never eaten pepperoni before, and one of her feet is a whole size bigger than the other. More from this author →