Wednesday, July 16, 2008

“CRAB”, by Abilash Munnangi


The dead crab lies still
limp on the dry sand All
strength to crawl Gone
from his hard shell
But he keeps a shape
of old anger
Curved along his claws

-- Abilash Munnangi

Abilash Munnangi was in third grade, Parkmont Elementary, Alameda County when the poem was written.

It’s a fine piece of work. I even like the idiosyncratic capitals. The description is plain but precise. And that ending! “old anger / Curved along his claws” … Though the poem is ostensibly about a crab, it’s really about us, our old angers, the ones that become hardened into shell. Hollow inside? Empty of what originally made them grow? What old angers outlive us?

source: My Song Is the Light: California Poets in the Schools Statewide Anthology 2007, edited by Mary Lee Gowland

UPDATE: Figuring “Abilash Munnangi” would not return many hits I ran the name in Google. “Abilash Munnangi” returned precisely one hit. Dare I Read. But Google asks, “Do you mean Abhilash Munnangi”? I doublechecked the spelling in the CPITS anthology and the way I wrote it is the way it is written in the anthology, but seeing if I really meant “Abhilash Munnangi” I let Google tell me that there is an Abhilash who is a student at Parkmont Elementary. He placed in the California Classic Scholastic Championships: K-3.

Somewhat disturbingly -- to me at least – I ran the search again just now and found that Dare I Read does not appear among the search results. Is DIR suddenly invisible to Google? That would be too bad.

… Uh-oh. I just found something new to disturb me. Curious how invisible DIR is to Google I ran a search for lines from “Crab.” Again DIR does not appear. However, the poem does. Follow that link to Miss Maggie's and you'll find "Crab" attributed to Valerie Worth. Apparently it was published in Worth's All the Small Poems and Fourteen More. How unfortunate for the young master Munnangi. A plagiarist?

This is the poem as it appears at Miss Maggie’s:


The dead crab
Lies still,
limp on the dry sand,

All strength to crawl
Gone from his
Hard shell-

But he keeps a shape
Of old anger
Curved along his claws.


So much for the “idiosyncratic capitals”, eh? Should I tell someone? Or just let it go? It’s not like Abhilash got any money out of it. Still, it grinds me that he got a place in the statewide anthology that could have gone to someone who actually wrote her own poem.

I like Valerie Worth’s original, though it loses a bit of its naïve charm when I know it was written by an adult. I see through a bit of research that Worth died in 1994.

Well. Hm.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

this is very disturbing ,however I think you should let it go.He was only a kid and was probably never taught about the dangers of plagiarizing.Since he is probably in 9th grade right now. He probably understands that plagerization is no small issue.