Books & Review | Sam Goodwin
Updated: Jan 15, 2013 01:39 AM EST


Christian Ward's poem "The Deer at Exmoor" which recently won the Exmoor Society's Hope Bourne poetry prize was found to be a near identical copy of Helen Mort's "Deer" with only a few words changed.

"The Deer at Exmoor" was poet Christian Ward's entry to the prestigious Exmoor Society's Hope Bourne poetry prize which won him the award. However, later a report by Western Morning News revealed that the poem was an "almost word-for-word" copy of Helen Mort's "Deer".

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Ward reportedly only changed a few words like "father" to "mother", the "river Exe" for "Ullapool" and changed the description of "the kingfisher / that darned the river south of Rannoch Moor" to "a peregrine falcon on Bossington Beach."

Mort seemed pretty upset with the issue and took to her Twitter account to reveal her annoyance. She tweeted, "Thanks for the backhanded compliment, Mr Ward, but I think you'll find thieving poetry is bad karma. At the very least."

She later took to her blog to state and contrary to other people's comments that she should be flattered that another poet thought of copying her work, she's actually "bemused and angry." Mort also reveals that what makes it worse is that fact that the poem was actually "quite a personal one" and to think that a person copied it for a competition makes her even more "upset."

"I'd also like to tell the plagiarizing 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 ...!" she ended sarcastically.

Ward has issued a statement to Western Morning News apologizing for the incident. He also clarified that he was "working on a poem about my childhood experiences in Exmoor and was careless", and that he "used Helen Mort's poem as a model for my own but rushed and ended up submitting a draft that wasn't entirely my own work".

"I had no intention of deliberately plagiarizing her work. That is the truth," wrote Ward in his statement. "I am sorry this has happened and am making amends. This incident is all my fault and I fully accept the consequences of my actions. I apologies to the Exmoor Society, Helen Mort, the poetry community and to the readers of the WMN," wrote Ward in the statement.

The poet also noted that he is also examining his earlier works to make sure that no similar mistakes have been committed.

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