Letters: Poets who borrow

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The Independent Culture
Sir: We are sad to see another article ("McGough: poet and plagiarist?", 17 September) which gives the impression that poets do nothing but bicker over the small amounts of fame and money available.

It's not the world we know, where poets are friends, swapping drafts, sharing workshop ideas, imitating each other like the magpies they quite naturally are, if they're any good, and, above all, getting excited about language and poetry.

Roger McGough is one of the most generous poets we have. He gives huge amounts of his time and talent to students of all ages and backgrounds. And since, believe me, this is not the road to fame and fortune, he does it out of a conviction that poetry still speaks to people in important ways.

From Shakespeare to Gershwin, writers have borrowed freely from whatever inspired them, and mostly without acknowledging the source in print as conscientiously as McGough has in this case. All of which makes us think it's a shame Jenny Lewis, when asked about it, can't feel proud and pleased to say, "Yes, Roger McGough got the idea from my poem."

MICHAEL DONAGHY

MAURA DOOLEY

IAN DUHIG

DON PATERSON

JO SHAPCOTT

MATTHEW SWEENEY

London SW8

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