Plagiarism Scandal – Poetry News September 13th

Today on My Poetic Side we bring you a story about plagiarism and examine a few of the similarities between the poems that led to this potential discovery that has left many poets shocked.

Poet Accused of Plagiarizing

Ira Lightman, a British poet and poetry detective has made a discovery that could rock the poetry world. According to his investigations there are a number of unmistakable similarities between the works of Pierre DesRussieaux in his book Tranches de vie, and other well-known poets, Dylan Thomas, Louis MacNeice and Tupac Shakur.

DesRuisseaux who was born in Sherbrooke, Quebec, passed away in January 2016. He studied philosophy at the University of Montreal. He wrote about Quebec culture and language, translated the works of many famous poets translating them into French. He won the Governor General’s Award for French language poetry in 1989 and was also the Canadian parliamentary poet laureate. The discovery has only been made public now. It was discovered a few months ago but out of respect for his family following his death Lightman said nothing.

The discoveries were brought to Lightmans attention for investigation by Kathy Figueroa, an Ontario poet who noticed the similarities between and English translation of DesRuisseaux’s “J’avance”:

J’avance first appeared in French in a book of DesRuisseaux poetry in 2013, there was no attribution. It almost appears as if it is a translation rather than a new poem, unfortunately as DesRuisseaux passed away in 2016 there is no way of finding out if this is the case or if it is in fact a case of plagiarism. This is not the only poem the Lightman found with significant similarities to the work of another poet.

Having carefully checked every poem in “Tranches de vie” Lightman found that “When I’m Alone”, appeared to be very similar to “Sometimes I Cry” by Tupac Shakur and “In the Beginning”, bore too many similarities to Dylan Thomas’s poem of the same name. Further searches suggested that is wasn’t just the work of famous poets that had been copied but some amateur ones as well, and it is this discovery that leads him to believe it is not a book of translated poetry as others in the field have suggested.


The book has been withdrawn from sale since the discoveries were made but the publishing company involved have made no comments regarding the issue. Unfortunately, the accusation is now out there and the evidence is strongly in favour of this being a work of plagiarism. Whether DesRuisseaux intended this or there is some other reason for these clear similarities, we will probably never know.

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