New Year’s Honours List/Plagiarism Accusations Resurface – Poetry News Roundup January 2nd

Today on My Poetic Side we bring you the poet on the New Year’s Honours List and the accusations of plagiarism that have resurfaced.

Poet on New Year’s Honours List

The 2020 New Year’s Honours list is not short on literary figures with a number of honours going to novelists, ad those involved in the field of literature through publication or services relating to literature. The novelist and poet Jackie Kay, who is the current Scottish Makar (poet laureate) is, however, the only poet to make the list this year.

Kay has been appointed a CBE for services to literature. She says that she will be accepting the honour, not only for herself but also on behalf of her peers who work in the field. Born in Edinburgh but raised in Glasgow, Kay who is 58 was made an MBE in 2006.

Poet Accused of Plagiarism

Last week Rupi Kaur the poet who rose to fame on Instagram was being named as the Writer of the Decade, this week she has been accused of plagiarism. It is alleged that some of her poetry bears striking similarities to those of a poet on Tumblr.

Following her internet success, Kaur published a couple of poetry books in quick succession. The suggestion that some of her poetry might have been “borrowed” is not actually a new one, but since she was claimed as the writer of the decade last week the accusations have resurfaced. The claims were initially made when “Milk and Honey” went viral and people were quick to point out that there were some large similarities between her work and that of Nayyirah Waheed a poet on Tumblr who published her first book in 2013. Salt, which was published a year before Milk and Honey included a number of poems that Waheed shared with her followers on Tumblr.

It is difficult to overlook the fact that there are some remarkable similarities between the work of the two poets. Both use snappy sentences and short lines, there is little punctuation in their poetry and honey and water are frequently used in metaphor form. A comparison even concluded that many of their poets have similar structures and themes which raises doubts about the originality of Kaur’s work.

Waheed reached out to Kaur via Tumble in the hope of putting the matter to bed but Kaur did not want to discuss it, simply denying that there was any plagiarism involved. Rupi has however publicly acknowledged Waheed as one of her inspirations, a clear sign that she was at the very least aware of the other poet and the style of her poetry.

The arguments have now surfaced with social media followers of both poets arguing over whether there was in fact plagiarism involved and if Kaur is worth of the title. One thing is clear, whilst Waheed may have been the first of the two to have become published nobody is denying that it is Kaur who appears to have made poetry much more accessible through her use of Instagram.

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