Award-winning young poet caught plagiarising

By Kathy Marks

Andrew Slattery's works have been run in literary publications and won awards. Photo / Thinkstock
Andrew Slattery's works have been run in literary publications and won awards. Photo / Thinkstock

An apparently promising young Australian poet has been stripped of several awards after being caught stealing lines from dozens of other poets, including Sylvia Plath and the Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney.

Andrew Slattery, 30, has yet to publish a collection, but his works have been run in literary publications and won awards. One of Australia's most distinguished poets, Peter Porter, had described Slattery as "a new and original talent".

Last May, Slattery won the Josephine Ulrick Poetry Prize, given by Queensland's Griffith University, for a lengthy poem called Ransom. When one of the judges, Anthony Lawrence, heard him read it aloud, there was a ring of familiarity.

On googling passages from Ransom, Lawrence discovered that about four-fifths of the lines were drawn from the works of other poets, including Charles Simic and Robert Bly, both Americans, and Chris Andrews, an Australian.

Slattery was stripped of the award, and the A$10,000 ($11,365) prizemoney was withheld. But further investigations established this was not a one-off.

He had been plagiarising other poets, as well the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud and the rock star Tom Waits, since 2007. He has now been divested of two other awards.

Slattery - a Newcastle-based academic who has received two Australia Council grants of A$15,000, and won thousands of dollars in poetry awards - claims he deliberately borrowed from others' works to create a "patchwork" effect.

But he did not credit them. "Recently I have been inserting lines from other poets in my poems," he told the Australian. "It was wrong. I accept that."

Slattery told the Australian: "I accept I will never publish another poem, let alone a debut collection, in this country."

- NZ Herald

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