I know that schoolchildren and college students lift complete essays and stories from the internet, but when I hear of supposedly reputable poets doing it, I don’t know what to think. Maybe I’m being naïve. Interestingly, Google listings on Christian Ward and the Wikipedia entry on him refer almost entirely to his plagiarism (including of poems by Helen Mort, Paisley Rekdal, Tim Dooley and Janice Soderling), which means that his “sin” has gone viral. A few years ago, before the massive rise of social networks, Ward’s plagiarism would not have been widely known.
I have wondered from time to time whether some of the material on The Writer’s Drawer is plagiarized. I actually do check sometimes when I receive a poem or story, and although I might find that a writer has posted their work elsewhere, I am unaware of any stealing from other writers on the part of contributors to the website.
Ward has not come out very well from the affair; rather than admitting his guilt, he claims he made a mistake by sending early drafts and other such pretexts. Because his sin has been publicized so widely, editors will think more than twice before publishing any of his work. However, this is the price he must pay. Plagiarizing is cheating and stealing of intellectual property, and no one likes a cheat or a thief.
Postscript: Community Outreach Specialist Sarah del Rosario provides a useful link to the Open Colleges' page on plagiarism - http://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/teacher-resources/plagiarism/