29 June 2012

Billy and Shane

OK, so in 2007 or 2008, Shane Koyczan was caught passing off a Billy Collins poem, "The Lanyard," as his own during a festival reading (or, at least, not giving Collins credit for the work). When it came to light, Koyczan wrote an apology to the festival that included this: "My sincerest apologies for failing to disclose the authorship of the piece 'Lanyard' in my last appearance at your fine festival. The poem is indeed written by Billy Collins with the exception of the beginning which was penned by myself. I have performed the piece many times and have always credited Billy as he is one of my favorite writers and it is always a delight to spread the word about those we love."

So, while looking for a Maxwell House Coffee commercial featuring Koyczan (!!!), I came across this clip from a 2010 reading, where again he includes the bulk of Billy Collins' poem "The Lanyard" in this piece called "Move Pen Move." Unless it happens after the clip cuts off (in which case, please disregard everything I've written here), he doesn't seem to acknowledge Collins, doesn't spread the word about this poet he loves. And here he has added a very long (and weak) ending to the poem, and given it a new title.

This is especially odd because his letter of apology also included: "As a writer I am completely aware of how crucial it is that the proper recognition fall on the proper people. I don’t have to imagine how upsetting it would be to hear that someone was trying to pass off my work as their own... it’s happened. The most recent example is a boy in the states who used “Move Pen Move” and “Visiting Hours” in a speech forensics competition. It stirred up quite a fuss and he was disciplined rather extremely."

Maybe someone can explain this to me. Does this just happen and nobody has mentioned it to me — that you can just tuck someone else's poem into your own without attribution?

Over and out.


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