Maya Angelou and Tupac Among Writers Plagiarized by Canadian Poet Laureate

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By Malaika Jabali,

What’s the French word for “Columbusing?”

The late Canadian poet Pierre DesRuisseaux — who once held the post as Canada’s Poet Laureate — was caught plagiarizing the work of a handful of artists, including Tupac Shakur and Maya Angelou in his 2013 book Tranches de vie.

First, artist Kathy Figueroa discovered similarities between DesRuisseaux’s “I Rise” and Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise.”

A selection in Tranches de vie, translated from French, reads:

“You can wipe me from the pages of history/with your twisted falsehoods/you can drag me through the mud/but like the wind, I rise.”

Fans of acclaimed author Maya Angelou may recognize the original line: “You may write me down in history/With your bitter, twisted lies, /You may trod me in the very dirt/But still, like dust, I’ll rise.”


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