2014 Hippocrates Open, NHS and Young Poet awards
Open International Awards
1st Prize: Jane Draycott - The Return
2nd Prize: Ailsa Holland - Weekend
3rd Prize: Stephanie Gangi - Four
3rd Prize: Karel Nel - Intensive Care
1st Prize: Ellen Storm - Out of Hospital Arrest
2nd Prize: Valerie Laws - Acute Mountain Sickness: Everest
3rd Prize: Paula Cunningham - a history of snow
Young Poet International Award
Conor McKee - I Will Not Cut for Stone
Biographies of award-winning poets
Paula Cunningham Paula Cunningham was born in Omagh and lives in Belfast where she works as a dentist. Her poetry chapbook, ‘A Dog called Chance’ was published by Smith/Doorstop in 1999. She has also written drama and short fiction. Her first full poetry collection ‘Heimlich's Manoeuvre’, also from Smith Doorstop, was shortlisted for the Fenton-Aldeburgh First Collection Prize in 2013. About her Paula Meehan has noted: "She has formal gifts in abundance…when her eye is on her native Ulster, magic and frightening things happen".
Regarding ‘a history of snow’, Paula said: "I am privileged to work with children and adults, many of whom have disabilities and medical problems. From time to time, in response to an enquiry about a medical history, I am gifted the most extraordinary stories, full of adversity, courage, love and humanity. The words tumble out, and the air in the room is left fizzing. Obviously I have a duty of confidentiality to my patients and so this poem is an attempt, cobbled together from a number of stories I have heard, and my imagination, to recapture some of the authenticity, immediacy and 'story-ness' of such an encounter.
'As someone who reads a lot of poems and short stories, it was impossible for me to think about snow without thinking of Joyce's 'The Dead', and Louis Mac Neice's poem 'Snow' and Ciaran Carson's response to that poem, also titled 'Snow'. I could not resist the pull of allusion in the final sections of the poem, and so it is also a history of snow in that sense. Robert Frost also managed to sneak his way in at the eleventh hour.”
Jane Draycott's collections include No Theatre (Smith/Doorstop) and from Carcanet Press, Prince Rupert's Drop, The Night Tree and Over, short-listed for the 2009 TS Eliot Prize. Nominated three times for the Forward Poetry Prizes, she was a PBS 'Next Generation' poet 2004 and second prize-winner in the National Poetry Competition 2012. Other collections, from Two Rivers Press, include Christina the Astonishing, co-written with Lesley Saunders, and Tideway with images by Peter Hay. Her translation of the medieval dream-elegy Pearl (2011), was a PBS Recommended Translation and winner of a Times Stephen Spender Prize. [Photo of Jane Draycott by Jemima Kuhfeld].
A few lines about the poem The Return: Around the world there are still a significant number of sanatoria left standing very much as the day they were abandoned decades ago. Haunted now by photographers and alternative tour-guides, the rooms of treatment equipment and furniture remain in a kind of poignant tableau of patience and hope, wallpaper curling, floor-tiles covered in leaves, on eerie stand-by ready to pick up again, it seems, whenever the time comes.
Stephanie Gangi is a poet, short story writer and novelist deeply engaged with life, work, writing, friends and family. She works in internal communications for Reed Elsevier, Inc. and studies at the Writer’s Studio, founded by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Philip Schultz. An excerpt of Gangi’s novel-in-progress, The Next, a ghost story, was a finalist for the 2014 Writers@Work Fellowship; the novel is out for literary agency consideration right now. In addition, she is compiling Known in the Bone, a poetry collection, for submission. Stephanie Gangi lives in New York City and has two excellent daughters and a really big dog.
On her inspiration for Four she said: Four is my attempt to capture the cadences of joy, loss, beauty and transcendence that beckon, after fear falls away."
Ailsa Holland has been longlisted for the Café Writers Poetry Pamphlet Commission 2014. Her poems have been published in Angle, And Other Poems and Ink Sweat & Tears. She is the founder of Moormaid Press, Macclesfield, and 2014 Poet in Residence at Tegg’s Nose Country Park, Cheshire.
About Weekend Ailsa said: "I was inspired to write the poem by a weekend I spent in Macclesfield General Hospital for an emergency operation. It was a surreal experience but I was also struck by the commitment and compassion of the staff and the often difficult circumstances in which they work."
Valerie Laws (www.valerielaws.com) is a poet, performer, crime novelist, playwright (12 books, 12 commissioned stage and radio plays) and sci-art installation specialist. Her recent work arises from Residencies including a London Pathology Museum, Anatomy Department (KCL), Leeds Hospitals, and at Newcastle University working with pathologists and neuroscientists. Awards include Wellcome Trust Arts Award, two Northern Writers’ Awards, twice prizewinner in National Poetry Competition. Devises new poetic forms and science-themed poetry installations and commissions including the infamous Arts Council–funded Quantum Sheep, spray-painting haiku onto live sheep. She featured in BBC2’s Why Poetry Matters, with Griff Rhys Jones, and live at Royal Festival Hall, London. Performs worldwide.
Note on inspiration for 'Acute Mountain Sickness: Everest' 'I've done a lot of research Residencies into the science of dying, what happens in the brain especially. I stumbled upon the fact that some of the dead are left lying on Everest, like human waymarkers, and found out that all those in the final ascent to the summit are in fact technically 'dying'. I researched mountain sickness: my disability was caused by an accident, so it fascinates me that this is a voluntary condition and a chosen risk. It could also be said to freeze normal empathy while in the 'death zone' of the mountain.’
Karel Petrus Johannes Nel was born just after WW2, in 1949, in the Orange Free State Province of the former Union of South Africa and received the major part of his schooling in Brandfort , a small rural town in the same Province. After a brief period of compulsory military training he studied Chemical Engineering at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. After working in the fields of Nuclear Engineering and Arms Acquisition for many years he is now looking forward to retirement. Due to his love for Poetry he established the Armscor Circle of Poetry in 2000 to promote poetry amongst his colleagues.
Why I wrote Intensive Care. For a period in my life I was a part-time pastor and it was my privilege to look after God’s Flock. At one stage a brother was hospitalized for a serious back condition and I sat at his bedside while he was coming out of anesthesia in a recovery room, still connected to monitors. Outside the window was a maple tree with leaves already in Autumn colours – and birds making themselves ready for the night. I watched him struggling to wake up properly from the foggy world of controlled unconsciousness, while interpolating and extrapolating just a little bit of my own experience, when I had gone through a similar process previously.
Dr Ellen Storm has had poems published in magazines including Assent, The Interpreter’s House, The Reader, Frogmore Papers, Orbis and The Warwick Review. She has one forthcoming in Obsessed with Pipework, has recently contributed two to the online collaborative arts project The Egg, The Womb, The Head and The Moon (weeks 27 and 30), and will be contributing to the forthcoming Writing Motherhood project. She was commended in the 2013 Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine.
Ellen is training in Paediatrics and Child Health in Liverpool, and is the mother of three-year-old twin girls. She blogs about poetry at: www.ellenstorm.com, and about nutrition (her other passion) at: www.kidseatplants.com. She tweets @drellenstorm and @kidseatplants.
The poem Out of Hospital Arrest is the latest in a series of incarnations. My first attempt at capturing the event described was inspired by Mark Haddon’s poem Cabin Doors to Automatic. Later I tried to write about two similar episodes in one much longer poem and it wasn’t working. Eventually I realised that this section was a complete poem in itself. I have yet to crystallise the other occasion in words, but I’m working on it.