The winner of the prestigious Exmoor Society’s Hope Bourne poetry prize is stripped of the title. His prize-winning entry was plagiarised.
Poet Christian Ward stated he had “no intention of deliberately plagiarising”, after it was discovered that his prize-winning entry, “The Deer at Exmoor”, was copied “almost word-for-word” from a poem by Helen Mort, entitled: “Deer”.
Ward is said to have replaced “only a handful of words”, switching “father” for “mother” in the first line and the “river Exe” for “Ullapool”.
Copied poet Mort posted a tweet: “Thanks for the backhanded compliment, Mr Ward, but I think you’ll find thieving poetry is bad karma. At the very least. Contrary to a few suggestions I’ve seen online in comments that I should be ‘flattered’ by this somehow, I’m just bemused and angry … This poem was quite a personal one and the idea that someone would deliberately copy it for a competition is something I find really upsetting”, adding “I’d also like to tell the plagiarising poet that ‘at the River Exe’ and the peregrine falcon line don’t scan properly within the rhythm of the stanza, in my humble opinion …!”
Ward’s reply was somewhat, well, stupid: “I was working on a poem about my childhood experiences in Exmoor and was careless. I rushed and ended up submitting a draft that wasn’t entirely my own work”.
It seems that Ward is not a first time offender. He states he is now examining his published poems “to make sure there are no similar mistakes. Already I have discovered a 2009 poem called The Neighbours very similar to Tim Dooley’s After Neruda and admit that a mistake has been made.”