A Matter of Ethics
When I first began to recite poetry at Cowboy gatherings, I was surprised when someone would occasionally ask, "Who wrote that poem?" To me it seemed perfectly obvious that if a person had recited a poem without acknowledgement, the poem was original. I was later to learn, however, that this is not necessarily true. It should be. By neglecting acknowledgment, a presenter leaves the impression that a piece is his/her own. This is, to me, right up there with cattle rustlin' -- maybe even with horse theft, 'fer cryin' out loud! I have always believed cowboys to be gentlemen, and to those who recite poems I say:
1) Secure permission from the author before reciting a poem.
2) Always give the author's name immediately before presenting the piece.
3) When an artist is engaged for pay, doing another poet's copyrighted work without permission is clearly illegal. But legality is not the question. It's a matter of ethics.
© Dee Strickland Johnson ("Buckshot Dot") included in her books The First Roundup and Cowman's Wife and reprinted with her kind permission. Visit her web site for more about her and her work
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