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Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better...

T.S. Eliot

man, i've stolen a lot from other writers! i counted last night the poems that incorporate work from others. the tally? 12 poems. i was surprised. i'm not talking about epigrams; only two poems in my ms carry epigrams. i'm talking about plugging in the material into my poems.

i shouldn't have been surprised. donald justice, one of my first poetry loves, is famous for borrowing material from other writers. and i'm the type of reader who will turn a memorable line over and over in his mind. heck, i become obsessed. i write down varients of the line in my notebook. i imagine what event/ thought/ emotion could've inspired the line. i repeat the line again and again out loud.

i'm under no illusion that i'm making what i've taken better. i'm not that vain. or stupid. i want to make the stolen material mine. mine, mine, mine. hmm, that sounds kinda of stupid too. ha.

anyways, here's the list of the artists/ writers i've stolen from:

toni morrison
luis omar salinas
gwendolyn brooks
ted berrigan
humberto ak'abal
robert hayden
unknown corrido songwriter
maría meléndez
robert duncan
joseph beuys
angela de hoyos
americo paredes

and the epigrams?

lorna dee cervantes
ronald johnson


Baroque Pop Radio said...

Every artist is a cannibal, every poet is a thief.
Bono (The Fly)

RJGibson said...

I used to do a lot of text lifts.

The last couple of years, I've moved away from it. But as I'm becoming more interested in the "canon," and what's on the page vs. what we think it means, and the spaces that exist between those things, I'm moving back toward it. I've been doing centos like a crazy woman.

Lorna Dee Cervantes said...

Aw, I'm honored. Now, where's the book?