A poem that plagiarizes me was nominated for a Pushcart. I HOPE WE WIN!
It took me seven years to write blud. Or, 42 to survive it.
YOU DO NOT GET TO LIFT ANYONE'S WORK. but you ESPECIALLY do not get to fucking steal how I language my fucking survival.
and call it your own. Wooooo I am fucking shaking.
Today, someone DM'd me asking for my contact info on someone else's behalf. I assumed this was for a reading. Damn. Was I wrong. Instead, I received some bizarre email from a "young, up and coming poet" talkin about "I paraphrased a stanza from your poem"
"Your original stanza reads, "Hell-spangled girl / spitting teeth into the sink, / I'd trace the broken / landscape of my body / & find God / within myself." . . .
"...My paraphrased stanza read "Ramshackle / girl spitting teeth / in the sink. I trace the / foreign topography of / my body, find God / in my skin." Unfortunately, over time, the origin of the stanza slipped my mind and in compiling my manuscript and submitting the poem"
"while not copied word for word, I did lift that image from you and paraphrased too closely for comfort. I hope you can understand it was not my intention to pass your work off as my own and I am deeply ashamed of this mistake. blud as an entirety really spoke to me..."
"...In paraphrasing you, I had hoped to put our poems into conversation with each other and go on to explore new terrain opened up for me by your work. I am deeply ashamed of the mistake I made and hope you can accept my sincerest apologies." Bitch, I DON'T.
Here's why: (from an interview in The Rumpus) "I think “Gun Metal” is probably the best representation of my collection as a whole It starts with the image of “Ramshackle / girl spitting teeth / in the sink”
Oh, and here's another reason why: https://t.co/n9YmD8IBYi
My poem (written in 2011) which appeared in blud (Copper Canyon, 2018) : pic.twitter.com/6VhEs7Q84T
This part: "Unfortunately, over time, the origin of the stanza slipped my mind...I forgot to give you credit for the original metaphor." MY BOOK WASN'T EVEN A YR OLD. Slipped your mind?
and I can only guess that either the Pushcart peeps clocked the line snag or someone read that shit on Rumpus, because there's this cancelation: https://t.co/sBD3kpLBVb
I put so much work into blud & couldn't tour w/ it. My mother is extremely ill. She's stalked me my entire life. When she learned my new last name, she Googled me, def not expecting to find the poems describing her abuses. It tipped her over. She got worse. Went on a rampage...
Wrote bizarre 1-star reviews of every book she could find online. Pretended to be my paternal uncle on FB, shaming me for what I've written about my "poor, Christ-loving mother" (not knowing said uncle's locked up for 30 yrs)
When I called her out, threatening to post court documents (I've been in the system since I was 3 mos. old) she called CPS on me. My kids were pulled out of class & questioned by authorities because "the claims were jus so outrageous we had to check in on them"
I was under investigation for 90 days. Though cleared, it was fucking triggering. She literally accused me of doing shit SHE had done to ME as a child She knew that would fuck w/ me. It did. & I haven't written in 16 months. My poetry saves my life, but is also dangerous for me.
blud was a necessary purge. I love the book. I love all the people I carried into it - my ancestors within the text, my friends, my family, chosen & birthed. but that bitch's response to it sent me deep into a PTSD hole, & I've not found my way out of it yet.
So when some tricky little "up and coming" poet rolls up on my life & tries to put it on, all I can say is, CLOWN, THIS WILL NOT BE COMFORTABLE. I'm just barely figuring out how to navigate it. Goddamn, don't gank my shit. I don't come from clean hands. YOU DO NOT. WANT. THIS.
Who are we, if not our words? Who are we if we are not allowed to tell our own stories? I survived my own vanishing. I arrive in my art. That is where I map my forgiveness, my sorrow, my joys. Let it be mine. Don't change a single word of it.
I need to come back to this, because that tattoo of hers is more than just a line. I was the youngest patient in the US to get braces back in the 80s. My orthodontist was stunned that I'd lost all my baby teeth. I was seven.
My dad helped me lose those teeth, Ailey. Here's a line I never put in a poem: the tooth fairy doesn't come for teeth knocked down your throat.
You can have that one.
NOTE: this poem was taken down, but I knew to screengrab it. Before it vanished, the “after Rachel McKibbens” was changed to mention the actual poem. This one she didn’t even cop to in her email to me: pic.twitter.com/h25SLDq2q6