Canadian Poet Laureate Pierre DesRuisseaux Accused of Ripping Off 2Pac
Published Sep 12, 2017The late Pierre DesRuisseaux has come under fire for allegedly plagiarizing work during his stint as Canada's poet laureate. He served in the role from 2009 to 2011, and it was recently discovered that some of his works bear a striking resemblance to some unlikely sources — including 2Pac.
The award-winning French-language poet's 2013 collection Tranches de vie came under scrutiny after Ontario poet Kathy Figueroa noticed that an English translation of his poem "J'avance" was a little too similar to Maya Angelou's I Rise.
The familiar verses didn't end there, though. Figueroa posted her findings to Facebook, and British poet Ira Lightman began investigating other pieces of DesRuisseaux's work. He found dozens of other "borrowings" that appeared to translate English poems into French without credit.
"When I'm Alone," for instance (when translated back to English from DesRuisseaux's French translation) reads:
Sometimes when I'm alone I cry
Because I'm alone.
The tears I cry are bitter and burning.
They flow with life, they do not need reason.
Diligent 2Pac fans should notice an uncanny resemblance to the rapper's own verse in "Sometimes I Cry." His lyrics — released in 1999 — read:
Sometimes when I'm alone
I cry because I'm on my own
The tears I cry are bitter and warm
They flow with life but take no form
Further similarities were discovered between DesRuisseaux's writings and works by famed authors like Dylan Thomas and Louis MacNeice.
DesRuisseaux passed away in January of last year, and Lightman said he didn't go public with his findings immediately as a sign of respect for the poet's grieving family.
Lightman told the National Post that he didn't want to trash the late poet's reputation and acknowledged that he has done "extraordinary" original work, but ultimately came to the conclusion that Tranches de vie looks to be "a book of deliberate translations" without due credit.
The book's Montreal-based publisher Éditions du Noroît has yet to comment on the accusations, though it did comply with Lightman's requests to provide him with a full copy of the poetry collection.