The poet who won an Exmoor literary prize with a work that was almost entirely written by someone else has now written to the competition’s organisers to “apologise deeply” – but has so far failed to pay back the prize money.
Rachel Thomas, chairman of the Exmoor Society, which runs the annual Hope Bourne poetry competition, has told the Western Daily Press: “We have only just heard back from Christian Ward after we wrote to him in December asking for clarification – and in his letter he apologises deeply, saying he hadn’t meant to send us what he says was a draft.
“We’ve only received his letter yesterday (Tuesday) and I’ve just had the contents read to me – but he says it was a mistake on his part and he also encloses a letter which he’d like us to send on to Helen Mort.”
As the Western Daily Press revealed a week ago, the competition’s winning poem, The Deer, had actually been penned by Ms Mort back in 2010.
The version submitted by Mr Ward was almost entirely identical save for a couple of place names and one gender change.
Western Daily Press readers and many poets across the region have been asking if the Exmoor Society has demanded a return of its prize money and also if a new winner will be chosen.
“The £50 prize money has not been paid back – and we need to follow Mr Ward’s communication with a letter asking what he intends to do about it,” said Mrs Thomas. “As you can understand, we have to be very careful how we handle all of this legally and the whole issue must be taken to our full executive before we decide what further steps to take.”