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Canadian Poet Laureate Accused of Copying Tupac Shakur

Steve Granitz, Getty Images
Steve Granitz, Getty Images

Tupac Shakur has a lengthy discography full of lyrics with important messages that have impacted people so heavily, some wish they wrote it themselves. Canadian poet laureate Pierre DesRuisseaux is being accused of copying the late rap icon’s poem in his Tranches de vie book from 2013.

While DesRuisseaux passed away back in 2016, British poet and poetry detective Ira Lightman has reportedly uncovered potential plagiarism in the famous book, with Shakur’s words from his “Sometimes I Cry” poem being used by the artist for a poem of the same title.

“Sometimes when I’m alone/I cry because I’m on my own,” Tupac’s original poem read. “The tears I cry are bitter and warm/They flow with life but take no form.”

There seem to be a few word and phrase changes in DesRuisseaux’s version from 2013, but it does appear his poem replicates certain elements from ‘Pac’s work.

“Sometimes when I’m alone I cry/Because I’m alone,” Desruisseaux’s poem reads. “The tears I cry are bitter and burning/They flow with life, they do not need reason.”

Addressing the potential plagiarism in an interview with the National Post, Lightman calls DesRuisseaux’s book “deliberate translations” of other people’s words.

“It looks to me like a book of deliberate translations,” Lightman explains. “And yet there’s no crediting.”

He explains how there has been a trend of foreign writers taking the words of others by translating their work into languages many may not notice.

“When you get an English plagiarist, they tend to borrow from an American poet,” he said. “They’re taking from another country and their target audience… has not read it.”

Not only is DesRuisseaux being accused of copying from Tupac Shakur, he is also being accused of plagiarizing from Maya Angelou, Dylan Thomas and Louis MacNeice as well.

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