Letter to the Editor

Stolen 'Coin of the Realm'?

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Dear Editor,

I offer my bonafides by telling you I am a cowboy poet and short story author.

I have won awards in both genres and have performed with poets and musicians from coast to coast and from Canada to Texas and also Australia.

I am a song writer and thereby affiliated with the WMA and the AWA. Recently I recited poetry in Maywood along with Mackay Brown, a notable cowboy poet in his own right and an honest man in all ways.

We were joined by an area resident who recites cowboy poetry some of which I believe he might have written.

When he had finished I asked if the last poem was one he had written and he assured me it was. Truth was, I had thought the last two were written by someone else.

After the program was over a woman came out of the audience, approached me and said she had read that last poem on the Internet and the man who had just recited it was not the author.

I was not surprised, but was embarrassed. I had been told this local man often recited poetry not his own.

The rule is, it's all right to do someone's poetry but to be honest you ask permission of the author and then give credit to the author when you do his, or her, poem.

If you don't, you are stealing. Not long ago, I read in the paper that this man was going to perform at one of the summer entertainment programs organized and put together by local McCook folks. I e-mailed one of the group members I was sure would be upright and would want a performer to be honest and gave him a "heads-up" about the fact someone might be in the audience who realized this local area man was stealing credit from authors of poems he was reciting and by not giving credit stole from the author.

I suggested it would be embarrassing to his organization if that happened. I asked that he tell the poet thief to make things right by giving credit to the authors.

A poem is copyrighted just like a song or book. Oprah just went through an ordeal with a book author who was dishonest. Anyway, to my amazement this member of the organization which facilitates these well-known McCook entertainment programs response was, "Oh, he's just going to do some poetry at such and such a location here in McCook!"

I wonder if the other hardworking members realize they are in for a rude awakening some day and they are being tarnished by dishonesty in their presentations.

Dishonesty in one instance can reflect and lay suspicion on all other performers, not to mention the organization who sponsors the entertainment. I'm not mentioning names, nor will I do so. I'm not trying to make trouble for any one or any group.

All I'd like to see is some honesty. It's the ethics and lack of ethics which concerns me. One might call credit for authorship as "Coin of the Realm," because when it comes to the Realm of cowboy poetry writing and reciting, in most instances the only pay given is recognition and appreciation for what you've written, and that local area poetry reciter is stealing that "Coin."

All he needs to do is tell who the author is, and get their permission. But will he?

Writer Ray


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