extract

July 21, 2016 by sheshematt13

Read an extract from the forth coming book, rubedo by Sheree Mack.

Introduction

Vice

I love the feel of vowels on my tongue.
I see words, I hear sentences. I pick them up,
roll them around my mouth,
roll them along my hands, arms and body.
I stash them in my pockets, my bag.
Going about my everyday business,
I sneak a peek now and then, perhaps
pulling out a couple to hold up
to the light like a mason jar of butterflies.
Only when I’m alone, by the light
of the waning moon do I wolf them
down, words, making them mine,
all mine. These words tell my story,
my way. Or at least this is what I think they do.
You can think otherwise.

As soon as a certain poet pressed ‘post’ to release his evidence for his allegations of plagiarism against me onto Facebook, he sealed my fate. I’m not saying he ruined me, as I’m still here today, but he set out to ruin me, all for the greater good. It might have started out as an investigation into my writing but it didn’t remain that way for long because of the nature of social media and of the society we live in today. I was soon on the receiving end of a constant onslaught from friends, family and strangers questioning my legitimacy as a human being never mind a writer. I’ll call it a lynching, a witch hunt. Trial by Facebook. I was not innocent until proven guilty, I was guilty. I was a plagiarist.

Hold up. Let’s get one thing straight from the beginning. I’m using this term ‘plagiarist’ here to illustrate the point that this is what they called me and probably still call me and will go on calling me. This does not mean I accept this term, or identify with it, or use it myself to define myself. I’ll not be using it again from here on out. I’m using it here to set the scene.

In a blind panic, and under pressure to say something, I posted a blanket apology, as illustrated above. It was only later that advisers said I shouldn’t have put out an apology. I should have remained silent. The apology was just used as a sign of my guilt. But honestly I was sorry.

Did I just see you judge me? No way. Did I just see a look cross your face? What you’re thinking is, ‘I’m ‘sorry’ for getting caught’? As Shonda Rhimes so incisively puts it, ‘No way do you get the opportunity to do that. We’re in this book together, and at no point do you have the chance to sit and judge me.’(1) Tell me that you haven’t made a mistake and then maybe you might have the right to judge.

I was sorry. I was sorry if I deceived anyone. For I feel the first person I deceived was myself. I didn’t realise I was doing anything wrong. I see that look again, I see that disbelief. How could an intelligent woman with a doctorate not know she was doing anything wrong?

I was a fool careless in my attempts to satisfy a longing to belong. I didn’t know I was doing anything wrong when I sampled a word or phrase from this or that writing and used them to create a whole new piece of work, flowing from my own experiences. I didn’t know I was doing anything wrong when I used examples of other people’s poems as models to build my own poems from. I didn’t know I was doing anything wrong when I practiced intertextuality, giving recognition to the great writers I admired and wished to emulate. I didn’t know I was doing anything wrong when I fell in love with creating, creating so well, creating so easily, so effortlessly. I thought this was the way everyone created.

(1)
Shonda Rhimes, Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person, ( Simon & Schuster London, 2015).

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