Culture

Famous Canadian Poet Laureate Accused Of Plagiarizing Tupac Shakur, Maya Angelou

Photo courtesy of Hip-Hop Archives.

Canadian poet laureate Pierre DesRuisseaux has been accused of plagiarizing a number of poets such as Dylan Thomas and Maya Angelou, as well as rapper Tupac Shakur.

In a report from the Guardian, poet Ira Lightman was first tipped off about DesRuisseaux’s possible plagiarism through a Facebook group called Plagiarism Alerts, where a woman named Kathy Figueroa had posted a link with the following comment: “It appears that one of Canada’s former poet laureates has plagiarised a poem by Maya Angelou.”

Source: Facebook

The link led to the Canadian government web page where a poem titled “I Rise” written by DesRuisseaux was selected to honor the poet’s memory (he passed away in 2016). However, after comparing the English translation of “I Rise” to Angelou’s “Still I Rise,” Lightman downloaded a PDF of the book where DesRuisseaux’s poem came from and discovered that a number of other poems had been stolen and unaccredited to the original writers. However, DesRuisseaux was likely never caught because he translated these works to French.

Although some have argued the poet laureate was practicing intertextuality — when a poet or writer references another work inside of a work — some disagree, saying that the DesRuisseaux’s case is a “blatant disregard” for other writers.

“It’s sleazy, you know,” Figueroa said. “It just boggles the mind that this fellow was so arrogant, so sure of himself that he thought he could get away with it.”

Tranches de vie, the publisher who released the book of poems in question, no longer sells the book but has yet to release a public statement about the issue. Lightman brought the issue to the publishing company’s attention last year after he learned of the apparent plagiarism.

Check out comparisons to DesRuisseaux’s poems below, including “I Rise” and “When I’m Alone,” the latter of which is reminiscent of Shakur’s “Sometimes I Cry.”

Sometimes I Cry (by Tupac)
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

When I’m Alone (DesRuisseaux)
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.

Still I Rise (by 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.

I Rise (DesRuisseaux)
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.

Source: theguardian.com 

Elijah C. Watson

Elijah Watson serves as Okayplayer's News & Culture Editor. When he's not writing he's listening to Sade and crying or watching My Hero Academia with his partner.

Share
Published by
Elijah C. Watson

Recent Posts

Memphis Police Releases Bodycam Footage of Deadly Tyre Nichols Beating

The city of Memphis has released four videos showing the beating that killed Tyre Nichols… Read More

January 27, 2023

Best Songs of The Week: ft. Kari Faux, Lil Yachty and More

The Round-Up is Okayplayer’s weekly playlist of the best songs in the worlds of hip-hop… Read More

January 27, 2023

‘The Simpsons,’ ‘Family Guy’ and ‘Bob’s Burgers’ Gets Extension for Two Additional Seasons

Fox has given two-season renewals to animated favorites The Simpsons, Family Guy and Bob's Burgers… Read More

January 27, 2023

Consequence Says He’s ‘Disgusted’ With Pusha T Cutting Ties With Kanye West

In an interview with The Art of Dialogue, longtime G.O.O.D. Music act Consequence accused Pusha… Read More

January 27, 2023

A Book On Erykah Badu Album ‘New Amerykah Part Two’ Is Coming in 2024

Written by Karmeryn Alexa Carter, a book on 2020 Erykah Badu album New Amerykah Part Two… Read More

January 27, 2023

7 New Hip-Hop & Neo-Soul Albums You Should Be Listening To (Week of January 27)

Styles P and Lil Yachty have dropped projects on this New Music Friday. Additional releases… Read More

January 27, 2023