Regime Takes a Stand Against Plagiarism: Mark Roberts Reviews Regime Issue 2

Regime: Magazine of New Writing. Issue 2, 2013.

regime02As much as I would like the whole issue of plagiarism to go away, it appears that the recent scandal is set to haunt us for some time yet. In particular Graham Nunn’s situation has become a tricky one for a number of publishers who are finding that the Nunn poem  they had accepted and published is probably not his at all. Added to the difficulty faced by these publishers in the fact that Nunn isn’t returning their calls – so what is to be done. Well Regime magazine has gone on the front foot – I=in a statement on its website last week called ‘Plagiarism in Regime Magazine’ (http://www.regimebooks.com.au/plagiarism-in-regime-magazine-statement-by-the-editors/) it announced:

Several weeks ago the editors of Regime Magazine were approached with concerns that a poem in the second issue of Regime Magazine was plagiarised. Graham Nunn had submitted the poem, titled ‘Empty Gardens’. This poem, in the opinion of the editors, is the work of US poet John Yau. It seems that Mr Yau’s poem ‘Bare Sheets’ was copied, a small number of changes were made to it, and then it was submitted without acknowledgement to Mr Yau and without his agreement”.

They went on to say:

We feel as though we the editors, and, more importantly, the readers of Regime Magazine have been deceived. We have written to Mr Yau and apologised and do so now again publicly. As poets, we are disappointed that his work has been mistreated and disrespected.

Regime has gone further. It has recalled copies of the magazine from bookshops and has taken steps to remove Nunn’s poem from their online and from their print on demand channel. All this, of course, has come at a cost to the magazine and one can debate as to whether it was actually necessary to withdraw the magazine from sale. Nevertheless they have made a strong statement on their position. They have also clearly stated that they had approached Nunn for a explanation before taking this action but had received no reply.

Along with a number of other Australian magazines Regime have tightened up their submission process ensuring that all contributors have to sign a declaration that the work they are submitting is their own before actually submitting – thereby putting the legal responsibility for the ownership of the work firmly on the author.

Regime issue 2 has actually been sitting on my desk for a month or so waiting for review. As long as I avoid the Nunn poem now seems as good a time as any to look under the Regime hood and check out their engine.

Published out of Perth Regime positions it self as an Australian journal of “poetry, short fiction and performance writing” with an international outlook. While the majority of writers in issue 2 are Australian, there is also a sprinkling of international writers, most of which were new to me. US poet Frederick Pollack’s ‘Reception Theory’ was a particular favourite with its almost prose like descriptions:

Again and again in the late work,
spring leaves block
his view of a street. Should he use
‘a street’, with its general appeal,
or insist on ‘the Parkway across the river’
for its petty honesty?

There are also writers like Rose Hunter who, though born in Australia, now lives overseas and has published, it seems, almost exclusively, outside Australia. Her poem ‘[umbrellas]’ is one of a number of poems in the journal which plays with the page, with split lines in the middle of the poem effectively visually breaking the poem into two triangles. It’s a technique that makes us stop and think about how to actually read the poem and to consider what might be a jagged stanza break.

While there are some well know names among the writers in issue 2 – Andrew Burke’s ‘Unintentional Art’ and Kate Middleton’s ‘Globe are standouts – the real strength of the issue is in the quality of the work by names I haven’t come across before. Helga Jermy’s ‘Jury Duty’, for example, is a finely balanced poem matching the mundane with the graphic reality of a trial:

and we’re just peers peering in on
back stares of discomfort, wondering
if the kids are home from school,
if the paintings reached the gallery,
last night’s Tuscany pork will stretch
to a kind of cassoulet, then graphic
piecings to inattention, busts
through flesh and bone

Indeed while I would not probably classify every poem in this issue a ‘success’ (an entirely subjective judgement of course), it is safe to say that each poem is interesting and it is possible to understand why it was selected – something that is not always possible to do with some contemporary literary journals.

There is also a smorgasbord of short fiction in Regime 2 and much of what I’ve said about the poetry in this issue also holds true for the fiction. Petri Ivalo Sinda’s ‘Meltdown Express’, for example, reads like an extended prose poem (all 13 pages):

I rummage among my futures, chasing after each one but they’re like a flight of starlings exploding out of a tree. I grab at them. I want to catch history in my hands and hold on for all I’m worth.

It is an extended personal, sociological, geographical, political, architectural and psychological study of the modern city and our space in it. It is an intense and exhaustive read – a good introduction to a writer who it will be interesting to follow over the coming years. Of course there are also more conventional stories in the issue, Michelle Faye’s ‘Blowie’ for example, where two young boys are taken on a night time fishing trip with their father and uncles. The younger brother’s sense of inadequacy underpins the story and is told with sympathy and understanding. But there is also an acceptance which makes us understand that this is, at least for the moment, is how it has to be.

In may ways Regime 2 is more an anthology than an issue of a journal. At 193 pages (191 if you remove the two Graham Nunn poems) it is a substantial collection and one that is well worth the cost of admission. One hopes that, despite the current setback and the financial hit they will obviously take by withdrawing copies from sale, they will be able to continue to produce further issues which bring together such talent.

– Mark Roberts

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Mark Roberts is a Sydney based writer and critic. He currently edits Rochford Street Review and P76 Magazine (http://rochfordstreetpress.wordpress.com/p76-literary-magazine/).

You can purchase print on demand copies of Regime 2, as well as finding out much more about the journal at http://www.regimebooks.com.au/regime-02-magazine-of-new-writing/

3 thoughts on “Regime Takes a Stand Against Plagiarism: Mark Roberts Reviews Regime Issue 2

  1. A shame (in the sense of ‘deeply unfortunate’) that any magazine would be out of pocket for this. And a shame (in the sense of ‘shameful’) that the perpetrator has not even bothered to return correspondence relating to his plagiarism, particularly some would say given his previous penchant for self promotion.

  2. Pingback: Issue 9: September 2013 – November 2013 | Rochford Street Review

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