Friday, November 23, 2012

Spotting Plagiarism in Poetry

While doing some research regarding poetry plagiarism, I ran across a post at PlagairismToday called "Case Study: Tracking a Sneaky Plagiarist Poet".

In the post, the author, Jonathan Bailey discusses how he was contacted by an administrator of a writing web  site who suspected that a member had plagiarized one of Mr. Bailey's poems. Mr. Bailey writes about how he went about determining that the poem was plagiarized--although not, apparently, from him--and what resources he recommends for people wishing to do the same. He compares the utility of Google, Copyscape, and Plagium.

 Near the end of the article, Mr. Bailey said something that really resonated with me. He wrote:
[The poem] had all the hallmarks of a plagiarized piece that had been partly rewritten. There were inconsistencies in the language, odd word choices and changes in the language. Where most of the poem seemed to be in very plain tones, some of the passages shifted to a wordy, almost formal tone.
I had someone asked me why I thought to even look for the apparent plagiarism committed by Tammy Gail Behnke. And my answer was similar to the above. I told that person that Ms. Behnke's poems seemed very inconsistent in quality, ranging from a bunch of multi-syllable poetic-sounding words tossed together in an impossible-to-decipher mess to a few that had quite good imagery and metaphors. Her comments on other poets' works were almost always "rah rah" and "loved the emotion, my friend" type responses that demonstrated no knowledge of poetry technique at all. Then one day, she posted a poem that I thought was quite good and, frankly, way beyond her skill level. I was skeptical that the poem could be hers. Thirty seconds with Google and I had my answer.

I recommend that anyone interested in detecting plagiarism on the Internet, whether in poetry or prose, read the entire article. The PlagiarismToday web site also has a great many other articles and news relating to plagiarism and copyright infringement.

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