This is the official blog of Northern Arizona slam poet Christopher Fox Graham. Begun in 2002, and transferred to blogspot in 2006, FoxTheBlog has recorded more than 670,000 hits since 2009. This blog cover's Graham's poetry, the Arizona poetry slam community and offers tips for slam poets from sources around the Internet. Read CFG's full biography here. Looking for just that one poem? You know the one ... click here to find it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Did Tomas Stanton plagiarize Rudy Francisco? Obviously. Here's the evidence

Below is beautiful poem by Rudy Francisco, the 2009 National Underground Poetry Slam Champion, the 2010 San Diego Grand Slam Champion, the 2010 San Francisco Grand Slam Champion and the 2010 Individual World Poetry Slam Champion.
 

"Scars/To the New Boyfriend"
By Rudy Francisco


Scars
1. If I could, I would nail these hands to the edges of stars. I would sacrifice this body to the sky hoping to resurrect as someone spiteful enough to not care about you anymore.
2. Staple me to a cross. Pierce my side with a broken promise and I will bleed all the crippled reasons why you deserve one more chance.
3. Loving you was the last thing that I felt really good at.
4.You wanna know how I got these scars? See, I ripped every last piece of you out of my smile.
5. I whispered you stardust.
6. I spoke you into sunflowers.
7. I dipped my hands in forever. I touched you infinity. Treated you as if you were the last molecule of oxygen inside of a gas chamber. I was good to you.
8. You wanna know how I got these scars? See, I swallowed my pride. And then it clawed its way out of my mouth.
9. I realized that I was never really your boyfriend. I was just your fuckin' hype man.
10. I hope your next boyfriend gets smallpox.
10. Yes I said smallpox!
10. I hate you!
10. But I still miss you!
10. And a part of me still loves you!
10. It’s hard for me to count when I get emotional!
10. I heard that over 90% of human interaction is nonverbal so...
10. If I could, I would tie your arms to a daydream and then auction you off to my fondest memories.

To the New Boyfriend
1. The first time I saw you and her on a picture, I wanted to take my entire arm, shove it inside of the computer and snatch the happiness right off of your face.
2. If I ever see you in the street, I'm probably gonna punch you in the throat.
3. I apologize in advanced. And I know, I know that it makes no sense, to have this much anger toward a man that I never actually met face to face. But my definition of love is being robbed in an alley 8 times in a row, and hoping there's something about today that makes all of this different. There is nothing logical about cutting off the most important parts of your yourself and then putting them inside of hands that shake, that tremble, that crack like an ancient sidewalk.
4. There is nothing rational about love. Your love stutters when it gets nervous. Your love trips over its own shoelaces. Love is clumsy and my heart refuses to wear a helmet.
5. Cupid is fucking irresponsible. And I'm tired of him using me for target practice.
6. I was told that time would heal all wounds. But what exactly do you do on days when it feels like the hands on your clock have arthritis?
7. She always wore her heart on her sleeves. So tell me why the hell do you look so familiar?
8. I think I've seen you somewhere in her smile. Like I've heard your voice in her laughter. Like I've smelled your cologne on her thighs. I bet if we dusted her heart for fingerprints we would only find yours.
9. I have this envelope. It's, it's full of all  the butterflies that I felt the first time she relaxed the velcro on her lips and smiled in my direction. I think most of them are still alive. I guess these belong to you too.

Copyright © Rudy Francisco




Rudy Francisco's poem was recorded at his feature at The Bowery Poetry Club, Manhattan, N.Y., in 2011, and published to YouTube on March 18, 2012, four months before the Copper State Poetry Slam on Friday, July 27, 2012.

The version below of Tomas Stanton, of Phoenix, was published to YouTube on Jan. 19, 2013. The original version we heard at Copper State included the line "I was just your hype man" and a line about miscounting in positions 9 and 10, both lines have since been omitted in the performance below, after Northern Arizona poets brought the plagiarism to the attention of his then-team captain.

 

A transcription:
1. So I finally figured it out that when you said forever, what you actually meant was 414 days, 13 hours and 25 seconds
2. You wasted my time
3. Would somebody please tell Facebook. I don't care how many neutral friends we shared, no, I do not want to be her friend, not now, not later, not ever
4. My bedroom still smells like the love we used to share, so last night I tried to replace that scent, but in the morning, my bedroom now reeked of two mistakes instead of one
5. I apologize to all of those who have been caught of a crossfire of our misery
6. if I could, I would burn every last image of you [sic] face from the inside of my eyelids, you beautiful nightmare
7. They say time heals all wounds
8. The batteries in all my watches seem to be dead
10. yeah I know I skipped 9, because 9 is your lucky number and there ain't nothin' lucky about you
10. I never thought I would hate you
10. yo, I hate you
10. I wish I never met you
10. why can't I forget you
10. I wish I never met you
10 I'm having a hard time moving on, so I just go backwards
9. in a conversation with my grandmother I was reminded that god is love and love doesn't make mistakes but sometimes people do
8. holding onto anger is like picking up a hot coal and throwing it at the one you despise but missing them, you were the only one that's burning
7. all got all new batteries for my watches
6. I feel the endless days of summer becoming shorter, these leaves of anger becoming harder preparing for fall
5. I finally figured out how to block you from my Facebook, it's nothing personal though, it's just still kinda hard though to see you smiling without me but I'm glad you've found somebody to make you smile
4. My bedroom is now a very lonely place, which means I have a lot of extra time on my hands
3. So I watched this fascinating video the other night of a caterpillar being born and spinning itself into a cocoon [sic] only to be reborn again as a butterfly
2. maybe in another lifetime we'll be butterflies
1. it's been about 414 days, 13 hours and 25 seconds since we last saw eye-to-eye and I heard that it takes twice the time you're with someone to move on so I guess I got 414 days, 13 hours and 25 seconds to go but I no longer feel like it's a waste of my time because the scars that we made will forever make me a better man


What is most obvious is the themes are the same: a rise in anger over a breakup, the climax in the repetition of the number 10 and a recount, the difference being Francisco goes 1 to 10, Stanton goes 10 to 1.

Evidence of Plagiarism:
Francisco: I was told that time would heal all wounds.
Stanton: They say time heals all wounds
 Immediately after that line:

Francisco: But what exactly do you do on days when it feels like the hands on your clock have arthritis?
Stanton: The batteries in all my watches seem to be dead

Francisco: I think I've seen you somewhere in her smile.
Stanton: it's just still kinda hard though to see you smiling without me but I'm glad you've found somebody to make you smile

Thematic similarities:
Reflection on love
Francisco: There is nothing rational about love. Your love stutters when it gets nervous. Your love trips over its own shoelaces. Love is clumsy and my heart refuses to wear a helmet.
Stanton: in a conversation with my grandmother I was reminded that god is love and love doesn't make mistakes but sometimes people do

Metaphor for what holding onto anger is like
Francisco: I know that it makes no sense, to have this much anger toward a man that I never actually met face to face. But my definition of love is being robbed in an alley 8 times in a row, and hoping there's something about today that makes all of this different. There is nothing logical about cutting off the most important parts of your yourself and then putting them inside of hands that shake, that tremble, that crack like an ancient sidewalk.
Stanton: holding onto anger is like picking up a hot coal and throwing it at the one you despise but missing them, you were the only one that's burning

A butterfly at the conclusion
Francisco: I have this envelope. It's full of all  the butterflies that I felt the first time she relaxed the velcro on her lips and smiled in my direction. I think most of them are still alive. I guess these belong to you too.
Stanton: 3. So I watched this fascinating video the other night of a caterpillar being born and spinning itself into a cocoon [sic] only to be reborn again as a butterfly.
2. maybe in another lifetime we'll be butterflies

There are also references to seeing the ex on Facebook, the performance style that rushes the 10, 10, 10 section, and the aforementioned omitted lines about being a hype-man and getting so passionate you can't count. But cutting the obvious plagiarism after you get caught doesn't change the fact the rest of the poem is plagiarized.

From the Poetry Slam Inc. Handbook:
Each poet must present his or her own original work.
 

Sampling.
It is acceptable for a poet to incorporate, imitate, or otherwise “signify on” the words, lyrics, or tune of someone else (commonly called “sampling”) in his own work. If he is only riffing off another’s words, he should expect only healthy controversy; if on the other hand, he is ripping off their words, he should expect scornful contumely.
After comparing reactions with other poets from Sedona and Flagstaff at the 2012 Copper State Poetry Slam, we concurred that the poem as plagiarized. I spoke with the team's captain about plagiarism and told him then that this was unacceptable.

However, I recently raised objections to Stanton hosting the Copper State Poetry Slam. He has not earned the right to host a statewide tournament if he has no qualms about stealing another poet's work and passing it off as his own in a slam.

The reply from the Copper State organizer: "I took your concern of plagiarism very seriously in the past, considering it myself and speaking with a variety of other people about it. Respectfully, I disagree with your assessment of the piece."

The evidence above clearly shows Stanton plagiarized Francisco. Quod erat demonstrandum.

Plagiarizing someone as well-known, well-respected as Francisco, dishonors our state's poetry community, (as well as being just plain stupid; Francisco's work is also all over the Internet and thus easy to find and compare). The Copper State Poetry Slam is supposed to showcase the best of Arizona's poetry community. Having a proven plagiarize host the event undermines the event's integrity.

Stanton should be removed as the host of the Copper State Poetry Slam finals and replaced with someone with honor and integrity. There are dozens of other poets, performers and organizers who could host this event.

2 comments:

Peter Campion said...

In my years of teaching I have had students who claim to have developed an original concept or theme in their creative writing only to later discover primarily through the peer-review process that their work is indeed plagiarized. It appears to me that this man copied the work and wrote his own version, but the allusions are so similar, I would consider this does constitute "plagiarism" as a creative writing professor.

Whether this young man plagiarized the other young gentleman intentionally or by accident, the "peer-review" from several years ago should have led this young man to cease performing it or give credit to the original author.

I did not see that in this recording, so as a listener/reader, I would assume the work was originally his, which is disingenuous and far more serious than just simple plagiarism.

After the plagiarism was "outed", it was this young man's obligation to not perform this work without permission of the original author in which case, it could be treated as a "tribute" or "influenced by" work.

The author of this post has indeed proved his case. As to repercussions, I am not familiar with "poetry slam" enough to know what avenues your organizers should pursue but it does seem unfortunate that this young man's past actions have tainted the integrity of this event.

Sandy P said...

same car with a new coat of paint.
its still a stolen car tho.