The past few years have shown me that even poetry can be a target of plagiarists. England and Australia in particular have had a slight storm of word-thieves the last year or two.
Doing research online has lead me to believe poetry has quite a history of plagiarists, not just the seemingly recent jump. But poetry used to be respected (and read) by a good majority of the population. I understand it happening "back then" because it could do more for you. But it does little now.
Why poetry? It doesn't make you rich. Few outside of the poetic or academic realms will even know your name, much less your work. Well, that's how it is in America.
Perhaps it is like lying to some people, a compulsion or thrill to get away with. Maybe the little bit of attention gained from winning a prize is enough; it is probably easier to steal a poem than a story.
There is one "legitimate" reason I can see, however: Desperation.
There is huge pressure on creative writing professors to keep publishing as they teach. Some universities even require a certain publication record and keep urging more. This, I feel, puts some people under too much strain to effectively create. Not every piece of coal turns into a diamond with force, sometimes it crumbles.
Otherwise, I can't really see it.
Where do you guys think the payoff lies? Why steal something that's of lesser "value" when fiction writers get more money/attention?