Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Not Just a Pretty Face

Has Natasha Hudson added plagiarist to her list of achievements which include (actress, model and very very dubious poet) and has Jannah Raffali has rumbled her?

Well, you be the judge:

This is a poem called Cake by Roger McGough:
i wanted one life
you wanted another
we couldn't have our cake
so we ate each other.
And this is Hudson's Cokolat:
Saya mahu satu kehidupan,
Kamu mahu sesuatu yang lain,
Kita tidak dapat makan kek coklat,
Jadi kita makan sesama diri.
A direct translation and not attributed to McGough.

Just in case anyone is unclear on the concept, plagiarism is not a very nice thing to do to another writer, and I believe it counts even when translation is involved.


Here is a link to the site where Ms. Hudson and her publishers should have applied for rights to reproduce one of McGough's poems.

Postscript 2:

Nina Shah's post on the matter made me laugh, suggesting that N.H's translations sound like they've been done via babelfish and she suggests:
Someone should make a makro, with a pic of th DBP Kamus Dwibahasa with the caption: ICANHAZPLAJIARIZMNAO?
I'd like that on a t-shirt!

Other bloggers who have picked the story up include Chech and Da Cookie, while Liyana inspired me to this.


Anonymous said...

a) who's she? Oh...some starlet issit...
b) some fine example she is to her readers
c) boycott!

- poppadumdum

Anonymous said...

Oh, and contact Roger McGough and have his lawyers set the dogs on her.


Firdaus Ibnu Ariff said...

Off topic here; Uploaded pictures and video of Awang Goneng Book Talk at IIUM yesterday - http://studioinspirasi.madani-media.com/2008/01/15/awang-goneng-di-uiam/

Ted Mahsun said...

Apparently Natasha Hudson herself left a comment on Jannah Raffali's blogpost. (Warning: absence of proper punctuation or even a proper explanation!)

Am feeling too lazy to google but isn't Cake a famous poem or something? I feel like I've heard or read it somewhere before.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the answer gave new meaning to 'airhead model'! Who's the publisher?

Sufian said...

It's not direct translation. So, no, not plagiarism. Inspired by, maybe.

Dan dia sangat hangat. Siapa harus dipercayai?

chermin said...

That's *Datin* Natasha to you lot!

bibliobibuli said...

i have contacted roger mcgough, poppadumdum. first thing i did. i do consider this plagiarism.

thanks firdaus

yes ted, 'tis quite famous because by a very famous poet. next time you plagiarise guys, choose someone obscure. it might be worth going through the rest of the book looking for parallels.

how can you have absolutely direct translation, sufian? ok, could you have a go at one?

thanks firdaus, will go check

kimster said...

it's too obvious and too similar, so the whole "not-direct-translation" argument doesn't wash lah.

and to think that NH got away with it. Sheesh.

vovin said...

i think i know what Sufian wanted to tell us.


But i don't agree one thing - Dia tak hangat mana. :P

Sharon, how about invite her to Seksan and let her explain why she did that.Then let her listen to your comment regarding this issue.

Hopefully we can do something from that.


Anonymous said...

I've sent an email to McGough's rights-manager as well, asking her to have a look at your posting.

She not hangat lah! Typical RTM back-up dancer/starlet...

- Poppadumdum

Sufian said...

Too similar Kimster?

The 'Cake line' in English and the 'coklat kek' line in Malay is very different...

And what about,

"you wanted another" and "kamu mahu sesuatu yang lain"?

Sharon: looking at your link, I don't think plagiarism is as bad as you make it to be, Billy H. seems to be doing very well...

I think Vovin's idea is very the excellent!

p.s. personally I think McGough's poem is bo-ring.

NH's seems to be writing about chocolate-cake-eating-cannibals - Cannibals are the new zombie, y'know!

kimster said...

I don't think you get it. But that's OK.

Sufian said...


Are you sure you 'got it'? I doubt it.

But that's ok too.

Sufian said...


sorry, forgot my smiley. Just having fun, my dawg.

You know I loves you, Kimster, right?


Jannah said...

The 'Cake line' in English and the 'coklat kek' line in Malay is very different...

And what about,

"you wanted another" and "kamu mahu sesuatu yang lain"?

There's no peribahasa in Malay that talks about "eating cake". This is a foreign idiom.

We do have "makan cili" though. Or "makan diri" or "makan hati".

"Another" in Oxford Learner's Pocket Dictionary means "a different one"

"Different" in Malay could be crudely translated to "lain".

I get it alright. Do you?

Sufian said...

"There's no peribahasa in Malay that talks about "eating cake". This is a foreign idiom."

Isn't that the point?

You're approaching the text as if it's a translation of the English idiom. I see it as an expression in Malay.

Huge difference, don't you think?

* * *

"i wanted one life
you wanted another"

"Saya mahu satu kehidupan,
Kamu mahu sesuatu yang lain,"

Again, looking at it from a plagiarizer's point of view, of course you can see 'similarities'.

But on its own, couldn't 'sesuatu yang lain' be translated to 'something else?'

Like maybe, she's saying 'I' want a life, 'you' want something different than life - like, maybe 'you' want death?

Or maybe 'you' want a hug. Or a teddy bear. Or cheese cake.

who knows...

It's poetry, maaaaan.

kimster said...

Don't worry about me. Especially when you obviously got it.

How do I translate:
"sorry, forgot my smiley. Just having fun, my dawg."

"maaf, terlupa senyumanku. Hanya mempunyai seronok, anjingku."
Sounds rather weird, but then it's an almost-word-by-word translation of the original phrase. Maybe I should change it a bit and make it less obvious. Then I might just get away with it.

I love semantics.
My dawg.
:) <--- smiley

Jannah said...


"I see it as an expression in Malay."

Sepanjang kehidupan saya sebagai pelajar TESL, walaupun sebenarnya nama kursus kami TEYL (young learners), iaitu selama hampir 6 tahun, belum pernah saya bertemu dengan suatu expresi Melayu seperti
"makan kek coklat".

Maaf jika saya bersalah kerana terlalu lama bermesra dengan Bahasa Inggeris sehingga melupakan bahasa ibunda dan tidak menyedari kehadiran expresi ini dalam kosa kata kita.

Sekian. Arakian.

A hug for you if you can find this expression in any Malay Literature :)

Sufian said...


"maaf, terlupa senyumanku. Hanya mempunyai seronok, anjingku."

Someone should write a translation-speak novel. Now.


Octavio Paz, i think, said, sastera "mengungkap kata yang tak terucap". Martin Amis wants us to 'berperang dengan klise'. Borges, in his lecture quoted the painter Whistler, 'Seni berlaku.'.

Marilah kita dalam semangat naif dan suci menghampiri karya Natasha Hudson dengan pandangan seorang manusia yang percayakan semua ini.

Mungkin pengucapan Datin Natasha sedikit esentrik dalam konteks Bahasa Melayu, tapi seperti kata A Samad Said, berilah seniman sedikit esentrisiti, sedikit ruang untuk berekspresi (or something like that)

bibliobibuli said...

sufian - good idea. there's a couple of other local guys we could invite along as well to give their side on why they think they haven't plagiarised.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone ever read a children's/young adult book in the late '80s called _Mutiara Teluk Bintulu_?

It was a blatant rip off of Steinbeck's _The Pearl_. The entire plot was EXACTLY the same, from start to finish, transported to a Malay kampung setting. Even at that tender age, I was appalled.

The translated version of this poem is atrocious. "Kita tidak dapat makan kek coklat"?!? Come on lah, you want to plagiarise, at least substitute a local kuih for the "cake"! Kita tidak dapat makan kuih talam. Kita tidak dapat makan kuih koci. Ooh, that second one has the added benefit of sounding a little naughty, no? Captures the mood of the original.

Does "jadi kita makan sesama diri" have the same, um, connotations as "so we ate each other" does in English? It's an honest question; I actually don't know. But the double entendre is a big part of the impact of the original; it's the line that makes the whole poem. I imagine if you were hearing it performed, that last line would make you catch your breath, or laugh, or both.

-- Preeta

Anonymous said...

Stop splitting hairs;

The chance of any two persons from two different continents and cultures to come up with this independent of each other is about ZERO.

This is plagiarism pure and simple.

This book should be withdrawn. The beautiful woman should offer a public apology.

Thank you Bibliobibuli person for highlighting this up.
You're doing a great service to Malaysian lit (whatever little we have).

ah pong

Madcap Machinist said...

Looks like parody to me, with a cute illustration for good measure...

btw, the title of the poem is not "Cokolat", but "Kek Coklat".

Madcap Machinist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Madcap Machinist said...


Not to be an apologist for NH; actually, judging by her comments on Jannah's blog, I'm not convinced she's much of an author.

hcfoo said...

Based on NH comment, perhaps she doesn't know Roger McGough write in a 'humorous and fun way' too.

I think my Malay language is good enough to see the similarity between the two. I'm sorry but plagiat itu tetap plagiat.

bibliobibuli said...

agree with hcfoo esp his comment about how is it possible for about the chances of two poets from different parts of the world etc.

mm - something is not parody unless it can be sen as parody by the majority of readers. how many other folks spotted the similarity?? and it requires a sense of humour on the part of the writer. here where got?

Sufian said...

"...book should be withdrawn."

Goodbye Shakespeare! Goodbye Dante! Goodbye Elliot! Goodbye you thieving lot! And goodbye Harry Potter (yay!)

"..?? and it requires a sense of humour on the part of the writer.. here where got?"

Yes. Mcgough is.so.not.funny.

p.s. Sharon, are you plagiarizing natasha-speak?

Amir said...

Someone should do a Youtube video like this famous one but call it "Leave Natasha alone!"

Anonymous said...

Suffian must be on some funny mushroom or trying to cotton up to Natasha Hudson ( but not this way mate).

ah pong

Sufian said...

Ah Pong, you are so dumb there are no examples.

(plagiarized from Amy Hempel)

Anonymous said...


I 've got the swollen headed one angry.

I must be right.QED

ah pong

Sufian said...

You so funny Ah Pong. Ha ha ha.

No, wait.

You not funny at all.

Sorry, my bad.


Anonymous said...

And Suffian;

You asshole.Just in case you're also too dumb to know why I said what I said.

I'm referring to this statement you wrote on Jan 15 @ 10 58.

It's not direct translation. So, no, not plagiarism. Inspired by, maybe.

Dan dia sangat hangat. Siapa harus dipercayai?

Anonymous said...

And that above anonymous is ah pong if you are too stupid to fihure it out

Sufian said...


I 've got the swollen headed one angry.

I must be right.QED


Anonymous said...

Ha ha! That's a nice one Suffian.
Now we can be friends again!

ah pong

Sufian said...

BFF, dude!


Anonymous said...

Hai everyone..
check this out!! Another plagiarism made by Ms Natasha 'the writer'... Another direct translation and she dares to claim it's hers????!!!

I Have a Little Turtle
(Nursery Rhyme yang popular di UK)

I have a little turtle,
He lives in a box.
He swims in the water
And he climbs on the rocks.

He snapped at a minnow
He snapped at a flea

He snapped at a mosquito
And he snapped at me.

He caught the minnow,
He caught the flea,

He caught the mosquito,
But he didn't catch me!

Si Kura-Kura Kecil
("Nukilan" Natasha Hudson)

Ada seekor kura2 kecil
tinggal di dalam kotak
berenang di tepi tasik
memanjat di atas batu

dia cuba menggigit nyamuk
dia cuba mengigit kutu

dia cuba menggigit berudu
dia cuba menggigit aku

dia berjaya menagkap nyamuk
dia berjaya menangkap kutu

dia berjaya menangkap berudu
tetapi dia tidak berjaya menangkap aku

Anonymous said...

'Karya' Natasha 'Si Kura-Kura Kecil' = 'The Little Turtle'by Nicholas Vachel Lindsay !!!


Anonymous said...

I guess that settles it doesn't it ? :)

It's a lot of translation :) and she's not even that great looking either :P

bibliobibuli said...

yep, link to the turtle poem:


oh dear.

Anonymous said...

can we do something about it? we cant just let this 'parasite' gaining all the cdts for other ppl's hard work, dont we?

hcfoo said...

Oh my, i wonder how many pieces of plagiarized poems we can find by the end of the day.

I'm not all out to destroy her career or insult her but someone please tell her that what she is doing ain't right.

bibliobibuli said...

i think you're all telling her. the publisher should of course in all conscience withdraw and pulp the book - even with the two examples you've found. and the poet herself should issue an apology and come clean. (she says they are poems she wrote as a child, but that does not excuse anything, actually). maybe that's too much to ask but still.

the only issue here on the table is the poetry and plagiarism thereof. her looks and whether you like them or not are not for discussion ... so don't get personal. (and also *ahem* to each other) or i will rap your knuckles

umapagan said...

... and it doesn't end there. I was looking through her collection when I had this startling sense of deja vu...

Mentega kuning, jelly ungu, jam merah, roti hitam

ratakan tebal
katakan cepat

ratakan tebal
katakan cepat

sekarang ulang
sambil kamu makan

sekarang ulang
sambil kamu makan

janganlah bercakap
bila mulut kamu penuh

The original was an old teaching tongue twister and I think it was written by Mary Ann Hoberman. It's called "Things We Like to Eat" and it goes:

Yellow butter, purple jelly, red jam, black bread.
Spread it thick,
Say it quick.

Yellow butter, purple jelly, red jam, black bread
Spread it thicker,
Say it quicker.

Yellow butter, purple jelly, red jam, black bread
Now repeat it,
While you eat it.

Yellow butter, purple jelly, red jam, black bread
DonĂ­t talk
With your mouth full!

Anonymous said...

oh dear....
what a bimbo i must say..

Madcap Machinist said...

"mm: something is not parody unless it can be seen as parody by the majority of readers. how many other folks spotted the similarity?? and it requires a sense of humour on the part of the writer. here where got?"

I was being facetious. The translation was so awful it had to be a parody... right? Right?

NH's poem just seemed like an oddball until compared with McGough's.

Anyway, it looks like NH is well and truly rumbled now.

Ah Natasha,

Aku mahu suatu kehidupan
Engkau mahukan sesuatu yang lain
Tak hendak menelan, tak ingin meluah
Jadi kulum sajalah kek coklat itu.

Syuhada said...

Oh no! Her book always sounds fishy to me but I couldnt put a finger on it. This aint right at all.


Informing the original author is the right thing to do, Sharon.

animah said...

now MM's version is clearly a parody of the original, and worthy of copyright protection. I'm trying to remember whether the author of a parody requires permission from the owner of the original works. Anyway you can read the Copyright Act which follows the international Berne Convention so the application is universal.

My suggestion is to send NH and her publishers, the Copyright Act, with the relevant sections highlighted.

kam raslan said...

Surely it's only plagiarism if it can be proven that NH had actually read McGough's poem. Only NH can answer that and only NH can know if she's telling the truth or not.

But if she hasn't read McGough's poem then it's a miracle. There's a theory that if you have an infinite number of monkeys bashing at an infinite number of typewriters over an infinite amount of time then one of them will eventually write a Shakespeare sonnet. If NH never read the original then it just goes to show how truly advanced Malaysia is because we've shown that it only takes a single Malaysian model cum "poet" at a single sitting to write a Roger McGough poem. And in Malay! I think we should all feel very proud of her achievement. It's yet another example of Liverpool beat poets being jealous of our success.

It also reminds me of a line in a British TV comedy mockumentary called "Bad News" that was a (genuine) parody of heavy metal bands. At one point the lead guitarist confides, "I could play Stairway to Heaven when I was 16. Jimmy Page only wrote it when he was 26. I think that says something."

I'm tempted to buy her book, run a bath, light some candles and eat some chocolate cake. Maybe I shouldn't have said that out loud.

Jannah said...

Mr Kam Raslan, you're here!

One poem, maybe it's coincidence. Two more poems? What are the odds of that?

Maybe you should buy the book. Read through and maybe locate other similar works.

Make sense, she did say she started writing her poems since she was 12, maybe she translated them into BM, or forgets they are really copies of her favorite poems?

Let them all eat chocolate cake, they can't find me if I close down my blog can they?

Anonymous said...

If Roger McGough was dead, I'd say that Natasha Hudson was channelling his poetic spirit after having looked into a chermin and seen his face. But McGough is very much alive, so... *knocks on wood*

I guess since we're all very careful about throwing around words like "plagiarism," we can just say that she was "creatively inspired" by many English poems as a wee young lass and just lacked the maturity and foresight, as a full-grown woman, to look back on some of these poems and er... burn the damn things. To give her the benefit of the doubt, many young
(and by that I mean adolescent) writers tend to mimic the style of the writer(s) they adore... it seems like a necessary step before developing a style of your own. And maybe she kinda *forgot* she did all this blatant direct translation copying thing.

But the thing is, she's 25 now and she should have known better before publishing poetry she wrote as a teenager. The idea itself fascinates me... I look back on stuff I wrote when I was a teen and am so overcome with horror I need to cover my face with the biggest Carrefour plastic bag I can find.

Actually, I'm feeling a bit let down because I remember flipping through some magazine or newspaper awhile back and reading about her upcoming book of poetry and thinking, "Cool... a Malaysian actress who writes! Poetry! Yay!"

And now... this.


bibliobibuli said...

mimic, subashini? mimic?

mwahahahahah (as the malay male would say)

i'm not coy about throwing the word plagiarism around in ms hudson's case and ... erm ... one or two others

Anonymous said...

What, Sharon? Bad choice of words? And am not sure who the malay male is, but ok.

I'm doped up on Panadol and Clarinase and I don't get it. :(


bibliobibuli said...

sorry you aren't well. i'm nursing a sick husband at the moment who seems to be in much the same boat.

mimic is to put it very mildly and politely. this is blatent and obvious.

malay male is amir hafizi. blog now defunct. my favourite bad boy blogger who laughs on the screen like a comic book villain. i was mimicking but not plagiarising.

get well, girl

Anonymous said...

Ahhh... ok. Got it. Appreciate the explanation. :)

I do remember an Amir Hafizi... I think. He used to post comments quite frequently over here? I believe he had a funny profile pic of himself(?) in a Superman suit. I remember the name because of the picture. Or I could be deliriously imagining things... but I'm quite sure. Or maybe not. Who can be sure of anything anymore?

Thanks for the well wishes, and here's hoping your husband gets well soon, for his sake and yours. Nursing an ill person is a thankless job - I'd much rather be the whiny person in bed than the one running around fetching glasses of water and Panadol. That's not to say your husband is whiny; but I know *I* am when I'm sick. I'm not one of those heroic silent-sufferers. Your husband doesn't read this blog, does he?

OK! Time to shut up.


Sufian said...

Even if she did plagiarize the poems, don't you think she, perhaps, did it (consciously or otherwise) because the two pillars of western literature, a certain Mr Shakespeare and Mr Alighieri are well known 'plagiarizers'?

When I read the venom directed at her (some other scary places, not here) I tend to think of America, and how they like to lecture about human rights.

It's both frightening and fun in a stone-the-adultress kind of way.

Anonymous said...

Don't harm the ignoramus but I'm going to do a very painful thing here and admit to a large gap in my cultural and literary education - I've never read Dante Alighieri. It's actually really quite *painful* to admit it. The pain is somewhere in my chest.

As for Shakespeare plagiarizing... hmmm. Can you point to some conclusive evidence? I'm not trying to be difficult, just very curious. This is something they neglected to tell me in my Shakespeare classes and I want my money back. (But admittedly, the "Did Shakespeare plagiarize?" debate has been going on for about as long as the "Was Will Shakespeare really Will Shakespeare or a million other people - ie. aristocrats, noblemen, actors, playwrights, Queen Elizabeth, etc?" debate.)


bibliobibuli said...

subashini - i'm not sure he even knows what a blog is!

and he is whiny. very very whiny. he says he's dying. (i blogged here about what it's like to nurse him when he's ill)

yes, you have the right superman

sufian - there was no such concept as plagiarism in the age of shakespeare, very true. i have a veryu interesting book about the history of plagiarism written by thomas mallon called "stolen words" which you can borrow if you are interested. i might write a piece on it sometime (on this blog or maybe as an article).

who is ('cuse my ignorance) Mr Alighieri?

so you reckon she could be a cryptonesiac?

in that case i find it remarkable that the form and the line breaks follow the original exactly

frightening and fun ... for sure

but the principle of the thing matters a great deal to me, and it seems, many of the commenters on this post.

at the very least ms hudson should come clean, not make excuses, and apologise to the people who have bought the book and to the poets whose work she has stolen. (i make no apology for the use of that word).

bibliobibuli said...

i can point to conclusive evidence re. shakespeare, but too lazy to do it tonight. (plus i have to go mop the fevered brow!)

oooh you mean dante, sufian? yeah same same. there was no concept of copyright protection in those days.

Jannah said...


Ignite curiosity into the public minds.

Next stop, reading more than the average 2 novels in one year.

Or at least attempting to write poetry?

I am a girl,
I like books,
I like men,
I like happy men,
I love Neil Gaiman.

Sufian said...

There might not be a concept of copyright, but surely by attributing the name of the writer to the work he/she produces is somewhat similar?

I mean, if authorship is not important, why not write as anon, then?

Ok, even if we assume that authorship is perhaps for patronage, wenches, ale or things that go bump in the night.

What if, say, for instance, I were to write an epic poem in terza rima about my alleged journey from hell to purgatory to heaven and say that it's all me. Is that plagiarism?

And isn't it a bit of a stretch for people now who proudly read the work of shakespeare yet want Ms Hudson's work to be taken off the shelf on account of plagiarism?

Sufian said...

Oh yes sharon, may I borrow the book?

Sufian said...


I used to hate Dante until I read Borges' nine essays on Dante (or something like that). Now Dante is like, my dawg (or something like that).

Anonymous said...

Oh, dear. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing when it leads one to equate Natasha Hudson with Shakespeare and Dante Alighieri.

Yes, Shakespeare and Dante "plagiarised" in the sense that all creative artists at the time did -- and in fact many of them *did* do so anonymously, because the concepts of the "author" and of "originality" were all but non-existent then. Poets, musicians, visual artists -- they all not only consciously based their work on their predecessors' work (often as homage), but also freely dipped into the communal font of stories/musical gestures/artistic subjects. Shakespeare and Chaucer and Dante and Milton weren't inventing plots of their own, because that is not what writers did at the time. And they may even have reused exact phrasing here and there, but the reason we remember them and not all their contemporaries who were all also freely "plagiarising" each other is that they did it better -- they took what was considered to be their raw material and made it something *better,* not patently worse.

If someone wants to say the same about Ms. Hudson (i.e. that her "poems" are better than the originals), they should certainly feel free to do so, and then I can laugh at them from this safe and fortunate distance.

In any case, Ms. Hudson's superiority/inferiority to her sources is somewhat irrelevant, because in this day and age we *do* have the notions of authorship and originality and copyright and so on and so forth. To accuse Shakespeare and Dante of plagiarism is not analogous to the US lecturing people on human rights, however much satisfaction it might give one to throw in their cause-of-the-day into this argument -- it's more like accusing cavemen of adultery.

-- Preeta

Sufian said...

Wow. Good use of the wikipedia, Preeta!

Anonymous said...

Oh, Irman. Thank you for the hours of laughter! It's rare that I run into someone as ridiculous as you. Two names, but only one joke -- do you also have four arms, but only one head?

-- Preeta

Anonymous said...

tommorrow i'm gonna start writing "seratus tahun yang sepi" and i'm gonna call myself "gabriel garcia ah pong" and i'm gonna demand that damned nobel prize for lit. that malaysia should rightly get years ago.

ah pong

Sufian said...

I loves you too Preeta! With your wiki-wiki-speak and superfunny jokes (your retorts to Ah Pong? Masterful! Will there ever be a soul who can forget S.S.T.M.P.K. Ramaswamy Iyer, B.A. (Failed) - vintage std 2 wit!)

May you have a long life and may your fun self prosper!

[sorry, sharon!]

Anonymous said...

I think Suffian is having his mushroom again.

And I don't know who Irman is.

ah pong

bibliobibuli said...

give the guy credit, preeta, he has more than 2 names. there's also the nom de plume which i have forgot.

preeta, see? you got a fanclub already

gabriel garcia ah pong? love it!

bibliobibuli said...

sufian - What if, say, for instance, I were to write an epic poem in terza rima about my alleged journey from hell to purgatory to heaven and say that it's all me. Is that plagiarism?

nope. something else. intertextuality.

Anonymous said...

Oh, now that you bring up intertextuality, Sharon, I wanted to point out:

Yet another difference between Shakespeare and Natasha Hudson (hahaha, I cannot believe I just typed that opening, but I did, didn't I?) is that plagiarism, unlike intertextuality, is the breach of a contract between writer and reader. If your audience is fully expecting (as today's audiences do unless something or someone tells them otherwise) that your story/novel/poem/play/film is your own original work, then to give them anything else -- without admitting it! -- is a breach of contract. Isn't that the fundamental distinction between intertextuality/parody and, um, stealing? The former assumes your audience knows the original source; the latter hopes you don't. The latter, when caught, says, Oops, sorry, I was only twelve at the time.

Shakespeare's (and Dante's, and Chaucer's) audiences were fully aware that he was borrowing from all over the place. Shakespeare wanted -- *expected* -- his audiences to KNOW all of his sources pretty well, in fact. Which is why, if you take a university-level class on Shakespeare today, you are often required to read his sources/contemporaries as well. Most of us will never be as familiar with them as Shakespeare's original audiences would've been, but it helps at least to be acquainted.

Ms. Hudson, on the other hand? I don't think she was wanting or expecting her audience to be familiar with Gough's work. Just a hunch :-) .

But then, what do I know? I only read the wikipedia, right? Amazing, though, how far it's brought me!

-- Preeta

Anonymous said...

Oh -- I meant McGough, of course, not Gough. Sorry. Must've had one eye on my ever-present wikipedia page ;-) .

-- PS

Anonymous said...


Your comment: "It's rare that I run into someone as ridiculous as you".

Are you refering to me ah pong?
If so I'd like to know where I'm being ridiculous? certainly not in this post about plagiarism.Read mine carefully.

Perhaps you think that my comment that I'm not interested in meeting authors because good authors are either dead, old, ugly or lead boring life is ridiculous.

If you are an author I think your catergory would be 'dead' and possibly all of the above.

You certainly ain't a good author because if you are I certainly will know your work but there are a lot of 'dead' bad authors too.

ah pong

bibliobibuli said...

duh, ah pong. you certainly WILL be hearing a lot of preeta when her book is launched in the US in may.

those are words that will have to be eaten, i'm afraid, so maybe you'd like to think how you'd like 'em served?? masak lemak, samballed, goreng masak kicap ...

ms. ana said...

Ms. Preeta, well said! ;) and ah pong, take it easy, darling.

I think it's rather charming, almost cute, that En. Sufian is defending the poor helpless poetess. But I must agree that you can't equate her plagarized works to that of Shakespeare's even on principles.

Although, Ms. Preeta has already explained the issue comprehensively, allow me to offer you my personal thought on the matter, being a fan of McGough and having been a student learning Shakespeare. Pardon my use of jargon.

Perhaps Shakespeare's work may not be that original, but consider the fact that he made those foretold stories his own by breathing new life into them. The words that he chose, the sequence of events with his twists and turns, all of this and more made his work remarkably unique although containing bits that may be all too familiar to some.

In one of his historical plays, I could not help but be spellbound by Richard, oh so charming and delightfully wicked. And as much as we want to believe that the real king was as good at being bad in real life, thats not the case. What matters is that Shakespeare's very own potrayal of the character, his voice that leaves a lasting impression.

Merchant of Venice is another example of how Shakespeare took a story and made it his own, not through direct translation from the Italian original, mind you. Rather in the way he structures the plot, weave the events, sprinkle the signs and garnish it with his literary style. And though he did not direct the readers to choose sides, I found myself disliking Portia the heroin immensely, simply by Shakespeare's own sense of irony and covert expressions.

What I'm saying is that Shakespeare shared his self with us, in the plays and sonnets he penned down himself, inspired by others. With that in mind, do you think Ms. Nat's take on McGough's work echoes that of Shakespeare's literary journey to resurrect the dead?

I've read McGough's work, I sense his presence in each line and verse and know them for themselves. I adore him. Imagine my horror having to see his thoughts, his ideas and his cake being rendered incomprehensible by someone lacking the ability to relate her self and her readers to her own words. Thus making her plagarizing, not only ridiculous but unforgivable too.

Anonymous said...


Bibliobibuli. I'm impressed. Preeta will be published in the US of A!
I'm a fair man. If it's good, I'm willing to eat my sambal belacan and will say that it's good.In this blog. If I ever get to read it. But I'm a hard one to please as you probably have gathered by now.

So, in all honesty I say all the best to Preeta. Lets hope that we'll not see it in remiaindered bins warehouse sales here too soon.

All the same any fuckers that say I'm ridiculous need to back up their claims.

ah pong.

I'm writing this in Manila airport SIA Silver Kris lounge and I'm off to catch a flight now. So that's the end.

Sufian said...

Ah Pong,

She meant me, lah...

Hi ms ana,

Are you saying that, despite being (an alleged) thief, Shakespeare should be given a free pass' because he is such a good writer?

Anonymous said...

Im sorry but the "thief similarity" between Natasha and Shakespeare is just too darn funny. Didn't think it would end up there.

Look all i know is, the poem between Mcgough and Natasha is word for word. Anyone can see that, as maybe a few of her other poems

Until you can show me Shakespeare did a word for word play or at the very least a sonnet, then dont talk about Natasha doing what other great writers have been doing like its an okay thing.


kawan lama said...

cukup la fasal sufian. isu ni tentang NS kan? lebihan lagi info pasal kes NS ni..

bibliobibuli said...

ah pong - ok then, the bet is on.

here's the link to the book so you can pre-order it.

lil ms d said...

omak oi

ms. ana said...

Sufian, I never said he was a thief. Lets just put it this way, Shakespeare used events in history and folklore to write his work. Ms. Nat used published poems and dictionaries to write hers. I wonder how you came up with your conclusion.

And Aishah is right about her arguments. You should give it more thought.

Anonymous said...

Ah Pong,

Calm down calm down -- the comment about dead authors was indeed meant for you (and that was clear because it was *addressed* to you), but the comment about rarely running into specimens as ridiculous was NOT meant for you, unless your name is ALSO Irman, in which case this is all very confusing and I am not sure I can deal with a universe in which everyone has the same name. I mean to say, one Irman is more than enough for me.

Though perhaps you, Gabriel Garcia Ah Pong, have an affinity for worlds in which everyone has the same name :-) . I will be looking out for _Seratus Tahun Yang Sepi_, peopled with its many Irmans.

In the meantime, apologies for the confusion, and please lie down and put a cold compress on your head.

-- Preeta

Anonymous said...

And to this:

"Are you saying that, despite being (an alleged) thief, Shakespeare should be given a free pass' because he is such a good writer?"

No, that is not what we are saying. It's not just because Shakespeare's better that he's not a plagiarist; it's also because he didn't reproduce existing works WORD FOR WORD with no thought for context or audience.

Must get back to my wikipedia now, I'm missing it already and I like to get in at least six pages before breakfast.

-- Preeta

Sufian said...

"Must get back to my wikipedia now, I'm missing it already and I like to get in at least six pages before breakfast."

Oh please. I'm sure you only did 3 pages.


eyz said...

Oh my, such a hot plagiarist! DO WANT

Madcap Machinist said...

"I used to hate Dante until I read Borges' nine essays on Dante (or something like that). Now Dante is like, my dawg (or something like that)."

"Nine Dantesque Essays". You have? Nak pinjam boleh?

My crash course in Dante came from Margaret Wertheim's The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace: A History of Space From Dante To The Internet. Trippy stuff. Great with mushrooms. It's cited in my degree thesis for some obscure reason. But yeah, Dante's my dawg too.

Sufian said...


Sure, let me see if it's in my Borges Reader... if not I'd have to lend you his selection of non-fiction which is huge and a bit hard to read comfortably...

Not sure if you're interested but, I have a 4-Disc recording of Borges' Harvard lecture...

Madcap Machinist said...

His poetry lectures?! *hyperventilates*

bibliobibuli said...

Though perhaps you, Gabriel Garcia Ah Pong, have an affinity for worlds in which everyone has the same name :-) . I will be looking out for _Seratus Tahun Yang Sepi_, peopled with its many Irmans.

preeta, ah pong, irman. have pity. i have a pain in my side from laughing too hard. love you guys.

Madcap Machinist said...

Actually Borges' Seven Nights, a collection of essays, includes one on Dante's Commedia... and even A 1001 Nights...

Just thought I'd mention that and see where it goes...

animah said...

Cinta Semasa Wabak Taun.

Peringatan Pelacur Saya Yang Teramat Depres

may said...

Dear Sharon,

After reading about this issue, I decided to write about it on my blog. I also linked your entry to mine, just for a heads up.


syed syahrul zarizi said...

Saman dia

BTW, laki dia kaya, so..

moozamohd said...

wow...... so many comments... o_0

kawanvovin said...

Release the hounds.

Anonymous said...

not surprising. asking natasha to whip up a coherent sentence in english is like teaching a goldfish to sit and beg.

Anonymous said...

Er, but her poems are in Malay, not English. Should be a little easier, then. Only like teaching a hedgehog to sit up and beg.

-- PS

james said...

FAO sufian:

Are you taking the piss? Or just thick? Either way stop being an arse.

Anonymous said...

beg pardon, writing in malay is not easier than writing in english!

james, in a debate someone needs to take the other side. or are you that thick?

Anonymous said...

Tsk. Mr./Ms. Beg Pardon: Aiyo pleaselah. No need to turn everything I say into controversy: real writing isn't easy in any language, but it's always a little easier in whatever language one is most comfortable with, one's "native" tongue, for want of a better phrase. So, since someone made a comment that suggested that English is not Ms. Hudson's best language, I was assuming that Malay must be, and that writing in Malay must therefore be easier for HER, although it would certainly be more difficult for me, and for many other people. I didn't think I had to spell that out.

Um, also, there was no debate here until Sufian/Irman inexplicably -- bafflingly to most of us -- suggested that Ms. Hudson had not plagiarised. I'm not sure I understand this "someone needs to take the other side" mentality, unless you are talking about Secondary School debating teams, in which case, hell yes, and god do you hate it when you're assigned the side that makes no bloody sense because SOMEONE HAS TO TAKE IT. I'm not sure that someone always needs to "take the other side" in real life because sometimes, frankly, there isn't a debate, and I think that's what James is trying to say.

If I say, "it is currently 10:57 pm on Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008, in France," I mean, really, are you going to "take the other side"? If I say, "my hair is black except when I dye it," are you going to "take the other side"? If so, pray tell what these other sides might be, because I'm already intrigued.

-- PS

jerome said...

This is a nice thread.

When I first saw Natasha Hudson's books, I was very pleased to see a celeb type dabbling in poetry. Publishing them is another matter, of course. It invites scrutiny.

I've scanned through the collection of Malay poems. It's very sweet, heavily cliched, somewhat naive but at least they're sincere.

Plagiarism-wise, the similarities are very uncany yes. But I'm more interested in the poem itself. Especially since her poems are so sincere, they welcome analysis that's more than literary.

Saya mahu satu kehidupan,
Kamu mahu sesuatu yang lain,
Kita tidak dapat makan kek coklat,
Jadi kita makan sesama diri.

It's obviously a cry for help. The poor girl is trawling for some kind of attention to some kind of psychological affliction that she underwent at some point in her life.

As a professional model, I can imagine that she would've had issues with eating rich foods like "kek coklat". It's obvious that this little dessert was forbidden to her and naturally I would think it has become a symbol of weakness, a vulnerability.

It's also, as some comments have pondered, a non-Malay idiom. Which makes sense, due to Hudson's mixed race upbringing. In some of her other poems, she has hinted at the racial discrimination she faced at school for being white. "Kek coklat" just isn't the same as "ais cendol" or "pulut hitam".

I would hazard a guess that everytime she feels her ambitions are being denied her, she thinks of this "kek coklat" and all that it stands for, and then shrivel up behind the persona. To become just another person who just wants to be accepted.

Compared to Gough's poem, where the cake refers ina general way to having one's way, Hudson's "kek coklat" is more personal, I reckon. It's everything that she desires. She doesn't give a rat's ass about what the other person wants, she wants that goddamn "kek coklat." Poor girl. She couldn't have her way so she internalised the pain and trauma, and obviously she's been eating herself up from the inside out since.

Someone please feed the starveling.

bibliobibuli said...

you are so sweet jerome. thanks for a deeper interpretation of the poem and helping us to feel a compassion we had forgotten for ms. hudson.


Anonymous said...

Alright, this is a dying topic, but I have to admit that I wasn't brave enough to read the whole thread before because I saw "92 comments" or whatever and thought, YIKES. Of course, now the count is up to a gazillion or something.

The best thing out of this whole thread, so far, were Animah's Marquez title translations:

"Cinta Semasa Wabak Taun."

"Peringatan Pelacur Saya Yang Teramat Depres."

Mwahahahahaha, as someone would say! Love the second one... teeheehee

And Preeta and Ms.Ana and I think a few others did a better job being on Team Negative, or Opposition, or whatchamacallit, in this debate... topic being - "Shakespeare and Hudson: Two Peas in a Plagiaristic Pod." (Oh, let me have my own fun.)

Sharon, thanks for offering to show the "conclusive evidence" that I asked for... but I suppose I meant word-for-word plagiarism, or as close to it as possible, and not evidence of his sources. As someone pointed out, I think it was Preeta, you could pick up a standard paperback edition of any Shakespeare play and get a rudimentary intro to all of his sources... or maybe no one pointed that out, exactly, but said something similar along those lines... but I think if Ms. Hudson's book was published with "sources" being attributed to McGough, it would receive a reaction that was, er, somewhat different... me thinks. My very little humble opinion. Of course, everyone else has already said this, so I'm a little late for the party, but what can I say... Malaysian time.

I know this is very very shallow but are some of you defending her because she's cute? I could totally understand that, really, because I just saw Viren Swami's picture that Sharon put up and I haven't even read his book, or even anything that he's written, but if someone accused him of plagiarism I would totally be pissed off just for the sake of being pissed off... because, heck, he's hot.


And Sufian:
"I used to hate Dante until I read Borges' nine essays on Dante (or something like that). Now Dante is like, my dawg (or something like that)."

I haven't even read Borges, and that is sad, and it pains me to admit that as well... and there are so many books to read and so little time and one day I'll be dead and if there's an afterlife I'd really be wondering if it was the best decision to have read Glamour and InStyle in the toilet, as opposed to 5-10 minutes of Borges, and Dante, etc., each day. Sounds like Borges is your dawg, too.

And Jerome - bwahahahaha. Tongue firmly in cheek, right? Right? Sometimes I'm a bit dense.. a bit like chocolate cake, and if NH had found a good slice of dense chocolate cake she wouldn't have felt so melancholy and been compelled to write a poem.


adline said...

Dear Sharon,
All this debate makes me want to say ...
Saya sayang awak,
Awak sayang saya,
Kita keluarga bahagia,
Dengan pelukan besar,
Dan ciuman dari saya kepada awak,
Katakanlah awak sayang saya juga.

Direct translation from the work of great philosopher, Barney the Purple Dinosaur..

Wira said...

Wow.. this should be a warning to all others as well. Better not plagiarize, or be exposed by bloggers.

About Roger McGough's poem that was translated (oops, plagiarized), let's respect it by translating it properly. My suggestion, line by line:

1. Aku mahukan suatu kehidupan
2. kau mahukan kehidupan yang lain
3. kek impian diri tak dapat kita nikmati
4. maka kita menjamah sesama sendiri

I know this translation is kinda crude and doesn't sound nice, but I just think that when we translate a certain work, we should maintain the words from the original text as much as we can.. and even if the "cake" is meant to be an English idiom, we could just turn it into a metaphore in Malay. Can ahh?

Anonymous said...

an attempt to capture all the malay/malaysian subtleties:

aku kassim selamat,
kau nyonya mansur,
aku cuma ahli muzik, bukannya doktor, loyar mahupun majistrit;
... bawa kemari garpu itu

ok, a bad one obviously


abby the fake intellectual said...

wow. and I bet the guys who drools over her would say "let her be" ...

an foolish amateur poet that I am, its just sad to see your own dream of publishing a poetry book, being done by a gorgeous public figure with such low respect on the originality and conceptual idea of poetry itself.

what a pity.

Acat said...

that "kassim selamat" take on things is hilarious..

Anonymous said...

Blah, who drools over her, she's married and sort of ordinary looking. Now Bernice hmm... :)

spectacularwave said...

Dear Sharon,

I found your great blog after googling about this plagiarism issue by NH. And I am following this issue with great interest. A book lover myself, I am so happy now that I find your site, with book reviews in English and covers many areas.

I also have one little question. I am interested in the Sumatran Rhinos preservation issue. How do I obtain the icon like the one you displayed in your blog?

bibliobibuli said...

it's nice you found my blog and do hope you will keep coming back! am not sure where i got my rhino badge but you can usuallay copy things by going to page source under view in your tool bar and looking at the code for the whole page and then scrolling down to find the code for that particular item

spectacularwave said...

thank you so much for the info, Sharon. I will do that. And I will definitely keep reading this wonderful blog of yours. I find it very informative and very interesting. Thank you so much.

Anonymous said...

Hmm.. this doesn't look like it has 117 comments.. where are the rest ? :P

Richard Hudson said...

The Cake of All Seasons

Life isn't always what it seems,
For the masses are happy to yell and to scream.
But I - little sister know better than that,
There's a rat in a hat riding a fancy fat cat.

For the currency of fame,
It knows no shame.
All those who mistake you
For a pretty air headed girl poet,
Will never know you,
As those who love you.

This is the cake of love and hate -
Some will relish the taste of mud
While others take joy in blowing out your candles.

This is the cake of the four noble truths -
Some will wait with baited breath
While others wait for the poison to kick in.

But do not fear little sister
For you are not bound to their venoms.
Let the snakes hiss and spit and dribble - for the cake is still waiting.

And while the masses haggle over words,
Dangling their daggers of despair -
Just keep on writing little sister.

Through the eye of your heart
I can see your blossom,
And I know :
Your sweet scent
Will linger forever.

bibliobibuli said...

thanks for dropping by the blog.

but how hard would it have been to say "hey people, i'm sorry, i really didn't know"? crisis management, y'know?

and that would have gone a long way to taking out the heat.

Crystal said...

oh, ms. Sharon is a famous teacher LOL!