Friday, January 30, 2009

Fame? Well, Sort Of ...


I recently discovered that I have been "graced" (so to speak) by an online paper mill that's offering for sale a college paper on one of my poems. In its website, MightyStudents.com calls itself an "academic essay library" with student papers that "can be used for research, reference, and revision aid only." They continue, "Note, that our essay data base is submitted to the plagiarism detection software." Their "party line" — if we were f2f face-to-face I would do air quotes here — their "party line" is that their papers cannot be submitted as original work by students who buy them, yet on their "testimonials" page, one of their satisfied clients says, "I am really impressed with the quality of the essays and so was my professor. I revised the essay and changed some things, yet the hard part was already done for me." Hmm. Ironically, the company cites as one of its reasons for rejecting submitted papers "duplicate or plagiarized content." In-freaking-credible.

Okay, let's dig a bit more into this. First, here's the poem.

Beetle on a String


When I was a kid, I walked bugs on a leash.
This was in the Philippines, where my parents
and I moved when I was a toddler, trading
foggy San Francisco for Manila's typhoons.

Actually, it was an idyllic place for a child —
warm evenings drenched in the sweet scent
of sampaguita flowers, but most of all,
a huge universe of enthralling insects

filling the night with buzzing and clicks, strobe
flashes of their glow-in-the-dark wingflicks.
It was my father who showed me how to catch
a scarab beetle in the cup of your hand, wait

for the wings to subside and close, then loop a thread
between thorax and carapace, tying it off —
not too tight — to allow the insect to fly
on a two-foot-long lasso. I remember

how I would smile and laugh, maybe five
or six years old, as a beetle would circle my head
like a whirring kite, iridescent green in the sun,
the thread stretched almost to the breaking point.

At night, I would tie my beetles to the round knobs
on my dresser drawers and be soothed to sleep
by a lullaby of buzzing. By morning, the beetles
were always dead, weights hung on string.

Those long nights must have been horrible.
Straining your body to shift an immovable weight,
unable to evade the swooping flight
of predators, banging again and again hard

against the dead wood, brought up short
by that unforgiving tether, cutting off
your pulsing blood every time, the long tube
of your heart quivering. It makes me shiver now

to wonder what thoughtless boy holds my string?



— Vince Gotera, first appeared in Flippin': Filipinos on America (1996); reprinted in Bold Words: A Century of Asian American Writing (2001), the textbook Asian American Literature (2001), the textbook Music, Pictures, and Stories: A Poetry Anthology (2002), and the textbook Holt Multicultural Reader (2007).

According to the MightyStudents.com specs, that paper on my poem earned an A originally, and so presumably would earn the buyer an A. However, the fragment of opening paragraph which the website lets us see suggests that the paper focuses on the father's imparting to the speaker (as a child) the knowledge of how to keep a beetle as a pet. This is a minor point; the main point has to do with the speaker's sense of guilt, as an adult, about having essentially tortured these beetles. I really doubt this paper would earn an A in a rigorous class environment. (I should issue a caveat here: the author of a work is typically not the best authority on that work, because all sorts of features of the work may be invisible to the author because of repression, which we all do constantly.)

So, if you are now looking at this blog page because you are writing a paper on "Beetle on a String" and you googled your way here, do not buy the MightyStudents.com paper. First, it's not illegal but certainly wrong. Second, you won't learn as much, no matter what MightyStudents.com says ("MightyStudents.com is highly appreciated by teachers!" . . . yeah, right). Let me give you a little boost up: "Beetle on a String" is written in a roughed-up pentameter. You figure out if it's iambic or whatever. Or if you think I even care, as a poet, about such things. Look at some of the write-ups on other poems in the blog, especially "Craft and Technique (1.0)."

Finally, about fame. I have to admit I'm perversely proud that there is a term-paper-mill essay about my work. It's like the time when a copy of one of my books at the Rod Library here at the University of Northern Iowa turned up missing. Someone had actually taken the effort and risk to steal my book. Well, that's cool in a weird sort of way. I guess such is fame. We take what we can get. Peace out.
NOTE: Sources for the images above, top to bottom, are (1) H. Vannoy Davis © California Academy of Sciences, (2) Richard Calmes Photography (Vietnam, 1968-1969), and (3) DK Images. Do browse through Richard Calmes's photographs; his portraits are amazing, both the contemporary dance photos and the Vietnam War images. Viewers' comments in his Vietnam War gallery show that his photography has touched a deep chord in many people's hearts.

Note added 31 January 2009: check out a wildly different beetle on a string!

Note added 6 May 2011: "Beetle on a String" featured in online video.


4 comments:

Amanda said...

Dad, what does "f2f" mean? Is that new-fangled teen talk? Because it sounds like something a 12-year-old girl would write. Just sayin'...

Vince Gotera said...

That means "face-to-face." Old bulletin board and listserv slang, probably 20 years old now. Though maybe 12-year-old girls also use it? Don't know. As slang, it is certainly older than texting. Have a great weekend, hon!

Vince Gotera said...

Amanda, you're right. Changed it to "face-to-face" ... Thanks!

lady gaga halloween costume said...

I love coming to this site and reading all the great content.
lady gaga halloween costume ideas

13th floor elevators (1) 3d (1) 9/11 (3) a schneider (1) abecedarian (6) acrostic (2) adelaide crapsey (1) african american (1) aids (1) al robles (2) alberta turner (1) alex esclamado (1) alexander chen (1) alexandra bissell (1) alexandrines (1) alliteration (2) alphabet (1) alphabet poem (2) altered books (1) altered pages (2) amanda blue gotera (6) amelia blue gotera (3) american gothic (1) amok (1) amy lowell (1) anacreon (1) anacreontics (1) anaphora (1) andrea boltwood (19) andrew davidson (1) andrew marvell (1) andrew oldham (1) angelina jolie (1) angels (1) animation (1) anna montgomery (3) anne reynolds (1) annie e. existence (1) annie finch (1) anny ballardini (1) anti- (1) antonio taguba (2) aprille (1) art (7) arturo islas (1) ash wednesday (1) asian american (4) assonance (1) astronomy (2) aswang (9) aswang wars (1) atlanta rhythm section (1) balato (1) ballad (1) barack obama (7) barbara jane reyes (1) barry a. morris (1) bass (2) bataan (5) becca andrea (1) beetle (2) belinda subraman (2) beowulf (1) best american poetry (1) bible (1) bill clinton (1) billy collins (2) blank verse (4) bob boynton (1) body farm (1) bolo (1) bongbong marcos (3) brian brodeur (2) bruce johnson (1) bruce niedt (2) buddah moskowitz (2) burns stanza (1) callaloo (1) candida fajardo gotera (5) cardinal sin (1) carlos bulosan (1) carlos santana (1) carmina figurata (1) carolina matsumura gotera (1) caroline klocksiem (1) carrie arizona (3) carrieola (3) carriezona (1) catherine childress pritchard (1) catherine pritchard childress (35) catullus (1) cebu (1) cecilia manguerra brainard (1) cedar falls (6) cedar falls public library (1) charles a hogan (2) chess (1) childhood (1) children's poetry (1) China (1) chorus of glories (1) chris durietz (1) christmas (2) chuck pahlaniuk (1) cinquain (1) civil rights (1) clarice (1) classics iv (1) cleave hay(na)ku (2) clerihews (2) cliché (1) computers (1) concreteness (1) consonance (4) cory aquino (2) couplet (5) couplet quatrains (1) crab (1) craft (5) creative nonfiction (1) crewrt-l (1) crucifixion (1) curtal sonnet (6) dactyls (1) daily palette (1) damián ortega (1) danielle filas (1) dante (4) dashiki (1) david foster wallace (1) david kopaska-merkel (1) david wojahn (1) de jackson (2) denise duhamel (1) deviantART (2) dick powell (1) diction (1) didactic cinquain (1) dinosaur (2) disaster relief (1) divine comedy (1) dodecasyllables (1) doggerel (2) doggie diner (1) don johnson (1) donald trump (1) dr who (3) dr. seuss (1) draft (2) dragon (1) dragonfly (17) dreams & nightmares (1) drug addiction (1) drums (1) dusty springfield (1) e e cummings (1) e-book (1) earth day (1) ebay (2) ecopoetry (1) ed hill (1) edgar allan poe (2) edgar rice burroughs (1) editing (1) eileen tabios (6) ekphrasis (2) election (2) elegy (1) elizabeth alexander (2) elizabeth bishop (2) elvis presley (1) emily dickinson (5) emma trelles (1) end-stop (3) english sonnet (1) enita meadows (1) enjambment (5) enola gay (1) environment (1) erasure poetry (9) erin mcreynolds (4) ernest lawrence thayer (1) exxon valdez oil spill (1) f. scott fitzgerald (1) facebook (3) family (4) fantasy (1) fashion (1) ferdinand magellan (1) ferdinand marcos (5) fib (1) fiction (3) fiera lingue (1) fighting kite (4) filipino (language) (1) filipino americans (6) filipino poetry (1) filipino veterans equity (3) filipinos (5) film (3) final thursday reading series (2) flannery o'connor (3) flute (1) fortune cookie (1) found poem (1) found poetry (6) found poetry review (2) fourteeners (1) frank frazetta (1) fred unwin (1) free verse (1) fructuosa gotera (1) fyodor dostoevsky (1) gabriel garcía márquez (1) gambling (1) garrett hongo (1) gary kelley (1) gawain (1) genre (1) george w. bush (1) gerard manley hopkins (8) ghazal (1) ghost wars (5) ghosts of a low moon (1) gogol bordello (1) golden shovel (3) goodreads (1) google (1) gotera (1) grace kelly (1) grant tracey (1) grant wood (1) greek mythology (1) gregory k pincus (1) griffin lit (1) grimm (1) grinnell college (2) growing up (1) growing up filipino (2) guest blogger (1) guillaume appolinaire (1) guitar (9) gulf war (1) gustave doré (3) guy de maupassant (1) gwendolyn brooks (2) gypsy art show (1) gypsy punk (1) hades (1) haiku (16) haiku sonnet (3) hart crane (1) hawak kamay (1) hay(na)ku (16) hay(na)ku sonnet (8) header (1) hearst center for the arts (2) heirloom (1) herman melville (1) hey joe (1) hiroshima (1) hiv here & now (1) homer (1) how a poem happens (2) humboldt state university (1) humor (1) iain m. banks (1) iamb (1) ian parks (1) ibanez (1) imagery (1) imelda marcos (4) immigrants (1) imogen heap (1) indiana university (1) ink! (1) insect (2) insects (1) international hotel (1) interview (3) introduction (2) iowa (2) iran (1) iran-iraq war (1) irving levinson (1) italian bicycle (1) italian sonnet (2) ivania velez (2) j. d. schraffenberger (4) j. i. kleinberg (3) j. k. rowling (1) jack horner (2) jack kerouac (1) jack p nantell (1) james brown (1) james gorman (2) jan d. hodges (1) japan (1) jasmine dreame wagner (1) jeanette winterson (1) jedediah dougherty (1) jedediah kurth (31) jennifer bullis (1) jesse graves (1) jessica hagedorn (1) jessica mchugh (2) jim daniels (1) jim hall (1) jim hiduke (1) jim o'loughlin (1) jim simmerman (1) jimi hendrix (2) jimmy fallon (1) joan osborne (1) joe mcnally (1) john barth (1) john charles lawrence (2) john clare (1) john donne (1) john mccain (1) john welsh iii (2) joseph solo (1) josh hamzehee (1) joyce kilmer (1) justine wagner (1) kampilan (1) kathleen ann lawrence (1) kathy reichs (1) keith welsh (1) kelly cherry (1) kenning (1) kennings poem (3) kim groninga (1) king arthur (1) king tut (1) kumadre (1) kumpadre (1) kurt vonnegut (1) kyell gold (1) landays (1) lapu-lapu (1) lapwing publications (1) laurie kolp (2) les paul (1) leslie kebschull (1) library (1) library of congress (2) limerick (2) linda parsons marion (1) linda sue grimes (2) lineation (5) linked haiku (3) list poem (1) little brown brother (1) little free libraries (3) lost (tv) (1) louise glück (1) luis buñuel (1) lydia lunch (1) machismo (1) magazines (1) mah jong (1) man ray (1) manananggal (2) manong (3) margaret atwood (1) maria fleuette deguzman (1) marianne moore (1) marilyn cavicchia (1) marilyn hacker (1) mark jarman (1) marriage (1) martin avila gotera (16) martin luther king jr. (1) marty gotera (5) marty mcgoey (1) mary ann blue gotera (6) mary biddinger (1) mary roberts rinehart award (1) mary shelley (1) matchbook (1) maura stanton (1) maureen thorson (146) meena rose (3) megan hippler (1) melina blue gotera (3) mental illness (1) meter (7) mfa (2) michael heffernan (2) michael martone (2) michael ondaatje (1) michael shermer (2) michael spence (1) michelle obama (1) middle witch (1) mirror northwest (1) misky (1) molossus (1) monkey (1) morel mushrooms (2) mushroom hunting (1) music (3) muslim (1) my custom writer blog (1) myth (1) mythology (3) nagasaki (1) naked blonde writer (1) naked girls reading (1) naked novelist (1) napowrimo (153) narrative (2) natalya st. clair (1) nathan dahlhauser (1) nathaniel hawthorne (1) national geographic (3) national poetry month (154) native american (1) neil gaiman (2) neoformalism (1) New Formalists (1) New York School (1) nick carbó (3) ninang (1) north american review (7) north american review blog (2) of books and such (1) of this and such (1) ottava rima (2) oulipo (1) pablo picasso (2) pacific crossing (1) padre timoteo gotera (1) painting (1) palestinian american (1) palindrome (1) palinode (1) palmer hall (1) pantoum (1) paradelle (2) paranormal (1) parkersburg iowa (1) parody (3) parol (1) pastoral poetry (1) pat bertram (2) pat martin (1) paula berinstein (1) pause for the cause (2) pca/aca (1) peace (2) peace of mind band (1) pecan grove press (2) pepito gotera (1) percy bysshe shelley (2) performance poetry (1) persephone (1) persona phone (1) peter padua (1) petrarch (1) petrarchan sonnet (8) philip larkin (1) philippine news (1) philippine scouts (6) philippine-american war (1) philippines (8) phish (1) pinoy (1) pinoy poetics (1) pixie lott (1) podcast (1) podcasts (3) poem-a-day challenge (151) poetics (6) poetry (5) poetry imitation (1) poetry international (1) poetry reading (4) poets against (the) war (2) pop culture (2) prejudice (1) presidio of san francisco (1) prince (2) princess grace foundation (1) promotion (1) prose poem (3) ptsd (2) puppini sisters (1) puptent poets (2) pyrrhic (1) quatrain (3) r.e.m. (1) rachel morgan (2) racism (1) rainer maria rilke (1) rap (1) rattle (1) ray fajardo (1) reggie lee (1) rembrandt (1) ren powell (1) reviews (1) revision (1) rhyme (8) rhysling awards (3) rhythm (1) richard fay (1) richard hugo (1) rick griffin (1) rime (1) rippled mirror hay(na)ku (1) robert bly (1) robert frost (2) robert fulghum (1) robert j christenson (1) robert lee brewer (151) robert mezey (1) robert neville (1) robert zemeckis (1) rock and roll (2) roger zelazny (1) ron kowit (1) ronald wallace (2) rondeau (1) ross gay (1) rubaiyat (1) rubaiyat sonnet (1) run-d.m.c. (1) saade mustafa (1) salt publishing (1) salvador dali (1) san francisco (8) sandra cisneros (1) santa claus (1) santana (1) sapphics (1) sarah deppe (1) sarah palin (1) sarah smith (26) satan (1) sayaka alessandra (1) schizophrenia (1) science fiction (1) science fiction poetry association (1) science friction (1) scifaiku (1) scott walker (1) screaming monkeys (1) scripture (1) sculpture (1) sena jeter naslund (1) senryu (3) sestina (6) sevenling (1) shadorma (1) shaindel beers (2) shakespearean sonnet (1) sharon olds (1) shawn wong (1) shiites or shia (1) sidney bechet (1) skateboard (1) skylaar amann (1) slant rhyme (5) slide shows (1) small fires press (1) sniper (1) somersault abecedarian (1) sonnet (28) sonnetina (3) soul (1) southeast asian american (1) specificity (1) speculative poetry (1) spiraling abecedarian (1) spondee (1) spooky (1) st. patrick's day (1) stanford university (1) stanley meltzoff (1) stanza (1) stars and stripes (2) stereogram (1) steve hazlewood (1) stevie nicks (1) stone canoe (1) sue boynton (1) suite101 (2) sunflowers (1) surges (1) susan l. chast (1) syllabics (1) sylvia plath (1) syzygy poetry journal (2) t. m. sandrock (1) t. s. eliot (2) tanka (1) tarzan (1) teaching creative writing (2) ted kooser (1) term paper mill (1) terrance hayes (1) terza rima (9) terza rima haiku sonnet (7) terzaiku sonnet (4) terzanelle (1) the byrds (1) thomas alan holmes (90) thomas crofts (4) thomas faivre-duboz (1) thunderstorm (1) thurifer (1) tiger (1) tilly the laughing housewife (1) time travel (1) tom perrotta (1) tom petty (1) tom phillips (1) toni morrison (2) tornado (1) translation (2) translitic (3) tribute in light (1) trickster (1) triolet (1) triskaidekaphobia (1) tritina (1) trochee (1) tucson (1) typhoon haiyan (1) typhoon yolanda (1) university of northern iowa (6) us army (7) vampire (2) ven batista (29) verses typhoon yolanda (1) veterans' day (2) via dolorosa (1) video poetry (6) vietnam war (4) viktor vasnetsov (1) villanelle (1) vince del monte (1) vincent van gogh (1) virgil wren (1) virtual blog tour (1) visual poetry (3) vladimir putin (1) volkswagen (1) w. somerset maugham (1) wallace stevens (3) walt mcdonald (1) walt whitman (3) war (7) war in afghanistan (2) war in iraq (2) wartburg college (1) waterloo (1) whypoetrymatters (1) wile e. coyote (1) wilfred owen (1) william blake (1) william carlos williams (1) william f tout (1) william gibson (1) william oandasan (1) william shakespeare (2) wind (1) winter (1) women's art (1) wooster review (1) writing (1) writing away retreats (1) writing show (1) wwii (6) young adult (1) yusef komunyakaa (6) zone 3 (1)