Poetry News

Public Seminar Addresses William Logan's Plagiarism Allegations Against Jill Bialosky

By Harriet Staff
Jill Bialosky, Poetry Will Save Your Life, cover

At Public Seminar, Sarah V. Schweig explores the conflict that emerged a few months ago between reviewer William Logan and author Jill Bialosky (she's also executive editor of trade poetry at W.W. Norton & Company) and connects it to larger questions and concerns surrounding poetry's readership. "William Logan gave the book a scathing review in the Tourniquet Review earlier this month," Schweig explains, "which probably would not have become news had there been no mention of the plagiarized passages Logan discovered. [...] My claim is that there is far more to say than whether she plagiarized or not." From there:

There is also much more to say about what constitutes “patchwork writing” versus plagiarism in the digital age and whether the passages Bialosky copied, which largely consist of factual details about the lives of canonical poets, are such serious violations (as compared to copying an idea or thesis from elsewhere).[2] Neither is this the place to discuss the anxiety of influence, since the plagiarized passages are, as the 72 Friends of Literature put it, “biographical boilerplate.” My claim — which does not seek to attack Bialosky personally — is that this incident exposes certain serious dysfunctions within the poetry industry and the way poetry insiders try to convince outsiders about the worth of their art, when they then undermine the worth of poetry as art in certain key ways. Bialosky’s thesis, which she claims remains untainted by the plagiarized portions, is actually a symptom of this larger dysfunction; the plagiarized portions accidentally underscore it.

Read more at Public Seminar.

Originally Published: November 30th, 2017