Accidental plagarism

I read a poem at an open mic a couple of months back. I was quite pleased with it. Only recently did I realise the central image was almost the same as another poet’s work who I had seen a couple of months before. Without realising it, I had completely ripped them off.

So I looked back at my writing, only to find the problem was more widespread than I thought. Other poems were similar to existing pieces from other poets. One had the same subject matter and even style as a poem I heard months ago. In each case, when I wrote it I thought I was being completely original. Of course, I felt very guilty and will probably remove them from future sets.

In a podcast I recently listened to 1, David Mitchell described inspiration as coming from the compost heap- everything you have read and experienced broken down over time. I like this way of thinking of inspiration because it highlights how ideas are not unique but made up of other ideas, how they grow from fragments.

These poems I had seen people perform had broken down enough that I had forgotten their origin, but not enough to change the original idea beyond what they had done. So the only solution is to be honest, check the origins of my work, then throw it back into the compost heap. Hopefully, these words will rot down more over time and emerge as something different. In the meantime, I’ll keep writing and making new work, drawn from deeper down.

Reflections

… Even under winter’s
tightest fist some light still slips through
to you, and isn’t that a miracle?

From I Know You Love Manhattan But You Should Look Up More Often by Ariel Francisco

Songs for November

Pauline Seawards shared this and I just had to share it as well. David Byrne sings Heroes with a choir who had practiced for just an hour beforehand. It’s utterly beautiful and hypnotizing.

I also love what David Byrne said about the performance:

There is a transcendent feeling in being subsumed and surrendering to a group. This applies to sports, military drills, dancing… and group singing. One becomes a part of something larger than oneself, and something in our makeup rewards us when that happens. We cling to our individuality, but we experience true ecstasy when we give it up. So, the reward experience is part of the show.

Quoted on happymag.tv

Then walking home, I listened to Spanish Translation by Low:

Both songs send shivers down my spine. Perfect for a cold November night.

6 Ways to Promote Your Book

  1. Be active on social media.  Don’t just endlessly spam your book, engage with different conversations. Make book marketing personal!
  2. Get a professional to design your cover. If the book is a romance novel, make sure they include archaic runes, a dragon, headshots of the cast of Saved by the Bell: The New Class and kittens. If it’s a fantasy novel, add two dragons.
  3. Know your audience. Know who they are, what things they like to read and watch. Know the bars they hang out at. Know where they live. Know what their diary says, the one they keep in the locked drawer. Know the sound their breathing makes in the darkened room as you stand in the shadows, watching them. You need this information for marketing!
  4. Seek out the old woman who roams the moor at night, moaning to herself in a strange tongue unlike any other language you have ever heard, ancient words not heard on the earth for millennia. Others claim to be deaf to her guttural groans, but you hear her every night, don’t you? Seek her out. You where to find her. Cross her palm with silver but do not look her directly into her eyes. She’s a PR manager and can probably help you out.
  5. Give up and start drinking. Drink heavily for most of the evening. Meet a man who claims he knows some people in a newspaper and he can get you a cheap advert for your book. Be suspicious, but go along with it because you’re drunk. Go to an ATM. Get out most of your life savings for ‘advertising’. Wake up the next day and regret what you have done. Call the number he has given you over and over, only for it to go to voicemail every time. Check the newspaper every day, hoping that an advert for your book will appear. It never does. Keep checking for weeks. Gradually stop buying the newspaper. Gradually lose hope. Avoid social situations. Retreat into yourself. Spend your days cursing your stupidity. Vow never to drink again. Drink anyway. See that same man in a different bar, years later. He’s happy. He’s laughing. Feel the rage boil in your veins, uncontrollable, like the hurt was only yesterday. Start a fight with him. Realise, too late, it’s the wrong person. Run as he is much stronger than you. Exit into the night, into the cold, into the unknown future.
  6. Have you tried advertising online? It’s cheap and effective!

Previously published on Pure Slush January 2017

My debut chapbook, Our Voices in the Chaos, is out now through Selcouth Station.