Dear Haiku Maven, A person I know is a haiku e-zine publisher and also a haiku poet. One or two times a year a special issue of the e-zine is published on a selected theme. For the past couple of years I have been sending in haiku submissions for these special theme issues. None of my haiku has even been selected. A few weeks ago I noticed that the publisher has won a few haiku contests. I do not usually enter haiku contests and only recently noticed the similarity between my haiku and the contest winners. The strange thing is that the winning haiku seemed to be a cut-and-paste of my haiku submissions for the special theme issues. One line from one of my haiku is the first line, with the publisher/poet’s own work for the remaining two lines. I went back and checked some of my other haiku submissions for the special themed issues and discovered similar borrowings of my work by this publisher/poet. All of my borrowed first lines were unusual in some way so they are easy to identify. Does this qualify as stealing my work?
Signed, Feeling Cheated
Dear Feeling Cheated, Haiku Maven’s initial response is to be aghast that the publisher/poet used portions of your haiku submissions as a jumping off point for a work which he/she then passed off as original. The fact that these partially pilfered haiku went on to win contests adds insult to injury. Haiku Maven knows more haiku editors and publishers than one can count. There is a tendency among a handful of publisher/poets to remember certain unique lines of submitted haiku. Some then use these same haiku phrases in their own haiku without realizing where they first set eyes on them. This also is Haiku Maven’s more measured response to your dilemma. Now that you know the culprit, Haiku Maven hopes your submissions to this publisher/poet are at an end.
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