Saturday, September 5, 2009

This Guideline Interests Me

Reading Justin Evan's blog, I learned of a new journal, a very new journal, starting up this fall: Sugar House Review. (Congrats to Justin on the acceptance!) As I'm always interested in collecting new journals, I'll definitely check this one out; however, it was something in their submission guidelines that interested me the most. After the usual information, they included this:

Send only original work. If you quote another poet or source, we expect that source to receive credit. We value the original creative endeavors of other writers and hope you do too. If we suspect your work to be plagiarized from another source, we will be mightily peeved and won't hesitate to contact the appropriate authorities.

The composition instructor in me cheers their integrity, as this reinforces what I teach on an everyday basis. The writer in me finds it interesting because from time to time I have used lines from other poets either as inspiration or as actual lines in my work. If you have read my poems in the most recent diode, you noticed a note on "Triolet with a Line by Jean Sénac." This seems a clear cut case to me of needing to acknowledge my source, as I copied word for word. However, I know that many poets find it acceptable to use lines from others within their work without acknowledging it, sometimes without even setting it off in italics or quotes.

To me, there seems to be a less-than-defined line between literary allusion and the necessity to acknowledge another's work. Blurring things further, I have a recent poem in which I used the phrase "So this must be a kind of __________" and its repetition from a poem by Doug Ramspeck, "Wooing," that I read in The Pinch. On my initial drafts, I included a note about the source, mostly for my own reference. Am I obligated to include the note when I submit the poem? Do I worry too much about this? Maybe, but I agree with the editors of Sugar House Review that it is important to acknowledge which mind created which lines and to give credit where credit is due.

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