Poetry and Medicine
The 2013 Hippocrates Award winners were announced at the 4th Hippocrates Awards Symposium on Poetry and Medicine in London.
For enquiries please email the organisers
2013 Hippocrates Awards were announced at the 4th International Symposium on Poetry and Medicine on Saturday 18th May at the Wellcome Collection in London.
The Hippocrates Prize is amongst the best funded awards anywhere in the world for a single poem, with a £15,000 awards purse.
The Hippocrates initiative received the 2011 Times Higher Education Award for Excellence and Innovation in the Arts.
1. Young Poets Award - for entries from anywhere in the world from young poets aged 14-18 years.
2. Open category - for any national or international entry: 1st Prize £5000.
3. UK NHS-related entries by current or former NHS-related staff and health students: 1st Prize £5000.
4. Entries for all categories submitted on line.
5. Entries must be in English, unpublished and up to 50 lines of text, excluding title or line breaks.
2010 Commended entries
2010 Top 300 entries
2010 International Hippocrates Prize: Press and publications
CPT Newsletter 'Poetry and Medicine' entries 2008
- Beth Harrison: 'The Journey'
- Julia Barclay: ‘Clinic 9’
- Jamie Brindle: ‘The Executive Suite’
- Pete Sweeney: ‘Odd Ode’
Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies
University of Warwick
At first glance, writing a poem on a medical subject may seem an unusual and even a daunting challenge. We often think that poetry expresses the emotions. Where does that leave the routines of the ward or operating theatre? In fact poetry, in its thousands of years to date, has expressed every aspect of human experience. It has told of warfare and heroic exploits, it has described the life of religious faith, it has offered scientific and philosophical accounts of the world, it has presented social and political facts and arguments—and of course it has talked of love and death and the feelings these and other experiences prompt in us. Today, the truth is that poetry can be about anything at all.
Beth Harrison’s winning poem, ‘The Journey’, might almost have been written on purpose to illustrate this point. Who would have thought a poem could be written about the passage of a new blood cell around the body? Beth Harrison’s achievement here is to take the time-honoured allegory of travel, with all of its physical obstacles and all its trials of endurance, and apply it not to the whole human creature’s journey through life but, on a much smaller scale, to the equally arduous progress of one of the human’s infinitesimal component parts. The poem is rich in its language and imagination. It is fired by an archaic, even primæval sense of the physical world. It is an altogether unusual piece of writing, and a worthy winner.
But the poems entered in the competition were of various kinds, and took a variety of approaches to medical experience, with highly readable results. The judges felt they wanted to commend three other poems as well. Julia Barclay’s ‘Clinic 9’ offers an arresting account of one daily hospital routine, in which the clinic seems to have a life of its own, and the human beings who work there or attend as patients never appear as individuals but function as generic parts of a de-personalised process. In ‘The Executive Suite’, Jamie Brindle brings a waspishly envious fantasy to bear on the well-known (but apparently mysterious!) suite of the title, bouncing us along in jocular rhyming tetrameter. And Pete Sweeney’s ‘Odd Ode’ offers a jaundiced take on NHS life, setting the everyday rhythms in the wider context of the world’s troubles and, in its sting-in-the-tail ending, adopting a sceptical stance on cure.
The poems entered were a lively crop, and the judges offer congratulations all round, especially to the winner and the three commended poets.
Michael Hulse, English and Comparative Literary Studies*;
Prithwish Banerjee, Cardiology^
Donald RJ Singer, Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics*^, Warwick Medical School
University of Warwick*; University Hospital^
Top 10 poems
by Siân Hughes and
'Time to Get Ready'
by Edward Picot.
Commended excerpt from Gary Geddes'
'The Doubt about Gout'
read on the BBC World Service:
Interview with Claire Bolderson
Michael Hulse Grand Round
5th Feb 2009
University Hospital Campus [ map]
Coventry CV2 2DX