I don’t even like writing the word ‘plagiarism’

As a communications professor, I have to attend to the possibility that some students will use words that are not their own. I believe I can usually tell when that happens – a change in diction jumps out at me after a lifetime of writing, editing and publishing – but this might not be the case.

This recent plagiarism scandal is especially puzzling because Jill Biokosky is herself an editor at an esteemed publisher as well as a poet and memoirist. She knows the rules.

Also puzzling to me is Biokosky’s non-apology:

[This reviewer] has extracted a few ancillary and limited phrases from my 222-page memoir that inadvertently include fragments of prior common biographical sources and tropes after a multiyear writing process. This should not distract from the thesis of this book, which derives from my own life, my experiences and observations. I will, of course, correct any errors that are found for future editions of the book.

Perhaps the ultimate puzzlement, to me, is that here is a poet who could not take care to recognize her own words, or to see which ones were not her own. Even I would go, “Hey, that doesn’t sound like me!” when going through my own work. I remember breathing every word, or that I could.

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