Poetry, politics, plagiarism, and erotics add up to a retraction

Nizar Qabbani, via WikiMedia

Here’s a new category for us: Poetry.

Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, a comparative studies journal, has retracted a paper on gender roles in Middle Eastern poetry due to plagiarism.

Nizar Kabbani was a famed Syrian poet who wrote frankly about feminism, love, and sex. He’s well worth a read, if you have the time – here’s an excerpt from one of his more famous poems, I Have No Power:

I have no power to change you
or explain your ways
Never believe a man can change a woman
Those men are pretenders
who think
that they created woman
from one of their ribs
Woman does not emerge from a man’s rib’s, not ever,
it’s he who emerges from her womb
like a fish rising from depths of water
and like streams that branch away from a river
It’s he who circles the sun of her eyes
and imagines he is fixed in place

Never believe what a man says about himself
that he is the one who makes the poems
and makes the children
It is the woman who writes the poems
and the man who signs his name to them
It is the woman who bears the children
and the man who signs at the maternity hospital
that he is the father

Here’s the retraction notice for “Arab Women in Nizar Kabbani’s Poetry”:

The editors of CSSAAME have determined that sources in Wisam Mansour’s “Arab Women in Nizar Kabbani’s Poetry” are not documented properly and that the article itself draws excessively from Mohja Kahf’s “Politics and Erotics in Nizar Kabbani’s Poetry: From the Sultan’s Wife to the Lady Friend,” World Literature Today 74.1 (2000): 44–52. Therefore, the editors of CSSAAME have concluded that Wisam Mansour’s article does not meet the scholarly standards of the journal.

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