2015 Hippocrates Prize Open and NHS Commendations


Anthony Adler, England  Grandad's new joke

Aileen Helen Ballantyne, Scotland  Clostridium Tetani

Jane Bonnyman, Scotland  Surgeons' Hall

Richard Brostoff, USA  Return

Eleanor Ellis, USA  Contagion and Vegetables

Johanna Emeney, New Zealand  And Then It Spreads

Marian Fielding, England  Outpatient Appointment 11.40 am

Valerie Fry, England  Nourishment

Norbert Hirschhorn, England  Even If He Can't Answer Maybe He Can Hear You

Siân Hughes, Netherlands  The Not-Parents

Rachel Mann, England  A Lesson in Evolution

Elisabeth Murawski, USA  Stage IV on the Coma Scale

Alison Nichol-Smith, England  Elegy - To a Friend's Breasts

Angela Readman, England  Radiography

Nicole Rubin, USA  The First Patient

Jacqueline Saphra, England  My Sister Burns Down the Doors

Richard Wotton, Germany  Trigger Point Massage

Sue Wood, England  A Herbal for Migraine



Cate Bailey, London  Restraint

Elizabeth Brett, Invercargill, New Zealand  zhou

Denise Bundred, Camberley  Blemish

Denise Bundred, Camberley  From the Heart

Carole Bromley, Stockton  Mum's Foot

David Gilbert, East Barnet  The Jab

David Gilbert, East Barnet  When Mum Describes a Horse

Sandy Goldbeck-Wood, Bodø, Norway  Anosmia

Maeve Henry, Oxford  Blood Lines

David McCrory, Belfast  Foetal Distress

Neil Singh, Hartlepool  The fourth sign of the zodiac

Derek Stanley, Bristol  King's Cross 1987 - The Time After

Rowena Warwick, Thame  Operation

Biographies of shortlisted poets and inspiration for their poems

cate-bailey-headshot med

Cate Bailey is an Academic Clinical Fellow in Old Age Psychiatry and trainee psychiatrist in East London by day (and often night). At present most of her writing is restricted to systematic reviews, posters and discharge summaries though occasionally she scrawls illegible ramblings on post-it notes and in margins, whilst commuting (if she gets a seat). She has previously won the Mslexia short story competition (2011) and her poetry has been published in Popshot and the Lightship Anthology (2011).

She said: "Restraint was written after a series of seclusion reviews with a patient seen during a night shift. It attempts to capture the challenge of balancing containment of highly agitated patients with the risk of repeating traumatic experiences in an effort to manage harm to self and others."

aileen-ballantyne med

Aileen Ballantyne is a journalist turned poet. She is a former Medical Correspondent for the Guardian and The Sunday Times, and is now a tutor in English and Scottish Literature at the University of Edinburgh.She is currently working on her first poetry collection after completing a PhD in Creative Writing and Modern Poetry at the University of Edinburgh. She was a Reuters Journalism Fellow studying medical ethics at Green College, Oxford, and her investigative journalism has been commended in the  British Press Awards. Her work on Aids and the treatment of premature babies was also commended in the Scottish Press Awards. 

More recently, as a poet, she has won the 2010 Sloan Prize at the University of Edinburgh, the 2012 Wigtown Book Festival Poetry Competition and the 2011 National Galleries of Scotland contest; her work was also commended in the 2011 Edwin Morgan International Poetry Competition, as well as in last year’s Mslexia Poetry Competition.

The poem Clostridium Tetani, written as part of her Doctorate, was inspired by the Scottish surgeon Sir Charles Bell’s 1809 painting “Opisthotonus” in the Royal College of Surgeons' collection in Edinburgh.

Jane Bonnyman

Jane Bonnyman is an English teacher and tutor and is currently based in Edinburgh. She writes teaching resources for the Scottish Poetry Library and the BBC, and has been published in New Writing Scotland, Gutter and Poetry Scotland. In 2013 she won the National Gallery of Scotland Writing Competition and she has also been placed in several other poetry competitions. She enjoys spending her free time writing in her house next to tall trees and a river.

About Surgeons’ Hall she said: "Surgeons’ Hall Museum in Edinburgh has always fascinated me. I am very squeamish by nature, but still find myself drawn to these often gruesome forms and objects. Death masks also intrigue and disturb, bridging the gap between now and then, life and inexorable stillness."

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Carole Bromley (Photo by Michael J Oakes Photography) is a Creative Writing tutor at York University and the Poetry Society's stanza rep for York. She has two pamphlets and a first collection with Smith/Doorstop (A Guided Tour of the Ice House) and her second collection, The Stonegate Devil,  will be published by them in October, 2015. She is married to a retired GP and they have four children and twelve grandchildren. Carole has won a number of first prizes including the Bridport and this is the third time she has been commended in the Hippocrates Prize. 

About her shortlisted poem Mum's Foot, Carole said: "My mother died of cancer last summer and the poem is about sitting with her in the hospice when she was miserable and restless towards the end. It seemed easier to write about just one part of her body."

denise-bundred med

Denise Bundred trained as a paediatrician in Cape Town and as a paediatric cardiologist in Liverpool. She has previously had poems commended and published in The Hippocrates Prize Anthology in 2012, 2013 and 2014.  In October 2013 she read at a Poetry and Medicine event at the Manchester Literature Festival.  She has four poems included in 'The Book of Love and Loss' (eds. J Hall and R.V. Bailey) which was published last year.   

She said: "I wrote Blemish when I was given a carved apple in a poetry workshop. Most of my poetry is medical and it was only when I saw a small blemish, shaped like a fetus, on the side of the wooden apple that I was able to write this poem. Part of my work as a cardiologist, was to scan babies before they were born and discuss with parents what it would mean for a child after birth. I usually write from the point of view of the doctor, but in this poem I reflect the agonising decision a family may have to make when the future for a baby is so uncertain."

She added: "From the Heart developed from a painting entitled Anatomy of the Heart by Enrique Simonet. It shows a beautiful woman in a 19th century mortuary; the anatomist is holding her heart in his hand. I have been writing a sequence of poems about this painting in the voices of the anatomist, painter, young woman and, of course, the heart.”

eleanor-ellis- med

Eleanor Ellis was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. She graduated from Whitman College in 2013 with a B.A. in Race and Ethnic Studies. Her poetry has been published in blue moon and quarterlife magazines at Whitman, as well as Pomegranate (an ezine for under-30s). She also received a National Silver Award in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards of 2009. Eleanor currently lives in Portland, Oregon, where she works as a teaching assistant with young children.

She said: "The immediate inspiration for the poem Contagion and Vegetables was the passage from Dickens’ Little Dorrit. But this poem also owes a lot to my former professor Alberto Galindo and his excellent course Contagio transatlántico (transatlantic contagion).” 

jo-pic-hi-res med

Johanna Emeney delivers the Michael King Young Writers Programme to students across Auckland with her friend Rosalind Ali. She also works as a tutor in Creative Writing at Massey University, Albany, where she has been studying for her PhD on the topic of medical poetry. The PhD involves both a critical component and a collection of her own poetry on a medical theme. Jo’s book Apple & Tree was published in 2011. In the same year, she placed third in the Hippocrates Prize.

Johanna said: “And Then It Spreads is part of the creative portion of my PhD, a collection called Family History about my mother’s illness and our very close relationship. This poem describes the dread of recurrence that many cancer sufferers and their loved-ones feel, and how any medical knowledge can be more curse than blessing when one of you has that (for)knowledge and the other does not. How much do you tell? How much do you keep secret? Is not knowing better for the person who is the patient? So much of illness affects loving relations. It spreads beyond the physical."

marian-fielding med

Marian Fielding is the daughter of a GP. She was a probation officer and has also been an actor, performing a one woman play for Unity Theatre, She was in a short film, AK (2012). She has had several short stories published. Her poetry has been in The Interpreter’s House, Orbis, South and South Bank Poetry and two Pop Up Anthologies. She was a featured poet at the Café des Arts, Guildford in 2013. She was commended in the Poetry Kit summer competition 2014 and two of her poems won joint first prize in the North London Literary Festival iPoems competition 2015.

What inspired me to write the poem Outpatient Appointment 11.40 am?: "From my own experiences, I became increasingly interested in the complexities of the relationship, verbal and non-verbal, negative and positive, between male consultant and female patient.

valerie-fry med

Valerie Fry: As part of the duo, Wind and Words, Valerie takes clarinet and poetry recitals into care homes.  Using themes, (including love, weather, travel, World War I, Christmas) to integrate the music and the words, the duo also give recitals in churches, WIs and libraries. Valerie's play, A Game of Two Halves won BBC Radio Five Live’s playwriting competition in 2006; she has also been commended in Rottingdean, Ware and South Bank poetry competitions.  Last year she was joint second in the first Carers UK poetry competition. This is her second Hippocrates commendation, the first being in 2013. Valerie lives in London.

 She said: “Nourishment was inspired by my mum, Ruby, whose feet and legs I used to massage regularly.  It was something we both used to enjoy, but it became doubly nurturing when she decided to reciprocate. I used to love her thumbs on the soles of my feet.  Ruby died just over a year ago.”

david-gilbert med

David Gilbert is a former mental health service user. He is Director of InHealth Associates that supports patients, users, carers and citizens to have more of a say in planning, design and delivery of healthcare. From June, he will be Patient Director of Sussex MSK Partnership. His pamphlet 'Liberian Pygmy Hippopotamus' (Templar) appeared in 2012 and his poems have appeared in The Rialto, Magma, Smiths Knoll, Interpreters House, and Brittle Star. He lives in London, with his wife and two sons and supports Leeds Utd.

He said: "The Jab is a collage of impressions and imaginings. It was a poem put together over ten years from a patchwork of memories (many made up). Please try not to have a breakdown. It is terrifying. I wanted to convey a bit about how fear creates reality and vice-versa."

He added: "When Mother Describes a Horse was written in about half an hour, after I caught the first line in my head. I think it is about the hope I had that mum would be free of her suffering soon. She had had ten years of agony. The horse was of my own imagining."

maeve-henry-1 med

Maeve Henry is a novelist and poet, whose poetry has appeared magazines and e-publications including Mslexia, Prole, poetandgeek, and various prize anthologies.  She was longlisted for the National Poetry Competition earlier this year.   She is studying for an MA in Creative Writing at Oxford Brookes, and  works as an assistant data manager at the Oxford Haemophilia and Thrombosis Centre at the Churchill Hospital.

She said:  "Blood Lines explore some of the resonances around the history of the treatment of haemophilia, from its first recorded instances, to the triumphs and disasters of modern times. The interaction of the personal and the scientific in the history of medicine is something I find fascinating."

norbert-hirschhorn med

Norbert Hirschhorn (photo credit: Cynthia Myntti) is a public health physician, commended by President Bill Clinton as an “American Health Hero.” He lives in London and Beirut.  He has published four collections: A Cracked River (Slow Dancer Press, London, 1999), Mourning in the Presence of a Corpse (Dar al-Jadeed, Beirut, 2008), Monastery of the Moon (Dar al-Jadeed, Beirut, 2012), and To Sing Away the Darkest Days. Poems Re-imagined  from Yiddish Folksongs (Holland Park Press, London, 2013). His poems have appeared in numerous US/UK publications, several as prize-winning. See his website, www.bertzpoet.com.

He said: "The tragedy described in my poem Even If He Can't Answer Maybe He Can Hear You happened to my father with whom I had had an awkward relationship, one just beginning to resolve when he was struck.  I thought of him increasingly as my own children reached adulthood.  The poem took shape in the 40th year after the event -- anniversary dates have a way of intruding on the mind."  

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Rachel Mann is Vicar of a church in South Manchester and Poet-in-Residence at Manchester Cathedral. Her poetry and criticism has been widely published in magazines, anthologies and newsprint. She is the author of two books, The Risen Dust (Wild Goose 2014) and the best-selling theological memoir, Dazzling Darkness (Wild Goose 2012).She is one of the judges for the 2015 Portico Prize for Literature.

Inspiration for the poem: I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in 1999 and have had several major abdominal surgeries. On two occasions the wound sites have become significantly infected. I was stunned to discover that a form of seaweed is used to cleanse and heal wounds. The poetic power of this medical practice lies at the heart of my poem.

david-mcrory med

David Camillus McCrory:  I am a fifty five year old consultant colorectal surgeon; born and bred in Belfast; seemingly with a fondness for alliteration.  I have seven children.  A gluttonous number that I generally keep to myself in these evermore greening times.  Thanks to the Hippocrates Society, to this short lifetime list of husband, father and surgeon I can now add ‘commended poet’. 

My poem Foetal Distress was inspired by the terror and exhausted elation induced in me at the birth of my first child.  It has caused more than a little marital friction as it is written from my wife’s point of view and she has jokingly accused me of stealing her agony as my own.  I am sure that someone much cleverer than me has already said that ‘all art is theft’; if you can’t recall the source I will claim this as my own too.

elisabeth-murawski med

Elisabeth Murawski Author of Zorba’s Daughter, winner of the 2010 May Swenson Poetry Award, Moon and Mercury, and two chapbooks: Troubled by an Angel and Out-patients. Hawthornden fellow, 2008. Publications include The Yale Review, The Southern Review, Southword, et al. In her heart, she has never left the “city of the big shoulders” where she was born and raised.

About Stage IV on the Coma Scale she said:” My son, Alexander Evans, was hospitalized with a traumatic brain injury in 2012. A reckless driver had jumped the curb and flattened the bus shelter where Alex was sitting, waiting for a bus. I knew nothing about coma stages, or what to expect. I describe what I saw in those early weeks, his repeated efforts to break free. His brother Jesse later found in Alex’s backpack a song he had written, and I quote two of his lines here in the poem. Alex was later transferred from the hospital to a long term care facility, where he died from the effects of the TBI on April 9, 2013.

alison-absolute-3 med

Alison Nichol-Smith began writing verse seriously after accidentally entering a poetry slam, and specialises in humorous verse using formal, often complex rhyming schemes and meter. Her day job involves writing product literature for an leading IT company, and she lives in Stratford-upon-Avon, where she is an active member of Reel Poetry.

What inspired me to write Elegy - To a Friend's Breasts? I was shocked when a young, glamorous friend was discovered to have breast cancer and required a double mastectomy, and I wanted to celebrate her bravery and style. 

angela-readman med

Angela Readman is a poet and story writer. Her poetry has won The Mslexia Poetry Competition, The Essex Poetry prize, and The Charles Causey. She is also a twice short listed winner of The Costa Short Story award. Her debut story collection Don't Try This at Home was published in May 2015 by And Other Stories.

About the poem Radiography: "I was thinking about what we don't see when I wrote the poem, the reasons there sometimes are for people appearing difficult. It can be less about us than a medical issue, sometimes a diagnosos shines a new light on everything.”

jacqueline-saphra-by-naomi med

Jacqueline Saphra (photo credit Naomi Woddis) has won several awards including first prize in the Ledbury Poetry Competition. Her pamphlet, Rock’n’Roll Mamma was published by Flarestack and her first full collection, The Kitchen of Lovely Contraptions (flipped eye) was developed with funding from Arts Council England and nominated for The Aldeburgh First Collection Prize. A book of illustrated prose poems, If I Lay on my Back I saw Nothing but Naked Women, was published by The Emma Press in November 2014. She is a tutor at The Poetry School.

About Inspiration for ‘My Sister Burns Down the Doors she said. “This is a poem that tricked me into writing it. My uncle, who’s a surgeon, sent me a photograph of some stitched up banana skins. He’d used them to teach his daughter, who was training to be an obstetrician, how to suture episiotomies. I thought I was writing about a father and daughter bonding over medical matters, and didn’t see the true subject of the poem emerging until it was too late. When I realised it was about female genital mutilation, I hid it in my folder of abandoned work and tried not to write it, fearful of its contentiousness and my own feelings of rage and helplessness. But that incongruous image of the banana skins continued to nag at me until I was forced to return to the poem and finish it.”

neil pic2 med

Neil Singh is a British doctor who grew up in Hartlepool. After completing a Masters in Public Health in Beirut, he will return to work in the NHS. His research interests include the impact of war and imperialism on health and health systems, and critical approaches to the human sciences and medicine.

We change at the moment of diagnosis. From the moment the (usually bad) news is delivered, our subjectivity changes, in light of new biological revelations about ourselves. The person who leaves a consulting room is, in a meaningful sense, not the same person who entered it. What is it like to go through this process in real time? That is what I hoped to capture in this poem.

derek-stanley-portrait med

Derek Stanley: "I'm 67 and had the wonderful experience of being a medical student in Trinity College Dublin in the 1960s. Much of my medical career has been as a partner in a GP practice in Bristol. The relentless nature of a busy practice made it hard for me to be creative, but conversely also built up a huge store of unique experiences - happiness and sadness, life death and grief. By nature an optimist, my life has been coloured by burnout and severe depression. I have come to writing only in my sixties and I find myself sometimes drawn to darker subjects. I'm married to Sally and other interests are travel, table tennis and croquet."

What inspired the poem King's Cross 1987 - The Time After
: "As a student I hated the dissection room and kept away. I pored over my anatomy atlas and books and somehow scored well in all the tests and examinations. This poem of a man scarred by his experience in the underground is possibly a metaphor for my experience of mental health problems."

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Rowena Warwick is a Consultant Radiologist working in Buckinghamshire. She was recently awarded distinction for her Undergraduate Diploma in Creative Writing from Oxford University Department of Continuing Education. Her poems have appeared in The Interpreter’s House; Ink, Sweat and Tears and Snakeskin. She was commended in the Yeovil Literary Prize in 2013.

About Operation she said: "The intrusion of personal feelings and experience colours the way we deal with each other, the visceral nature of the events and description in this poem reflects this. We are all both 'terribly important' and 'nothing more than meat', it is all a matter of perspective.”

sue-wood med

Sue Wood lives in Halifax and has taught at universities in Australia, South Africa and Bradford.  She has gained commendations in many national poetry competitions, won first prize in the Oxford Literary Festival, was a winner in the Poetry Business Book and Pamphlet Competition with her pamphlet Woman Scouring A Pot, and received the Cinnamon Press Award for Poetry in 2008 leading to the publication of her first poetry collection Imagine yourself to be water (2009). Her long poem Mrs Pretty and the Ship Burial was performed alongside Katrina Porteous' work at the Sutton Hoo Poetry Festival (2009) after publication in Dreamcatcher.  Sue ran the part-time Creative Writing programme at Bradford University, has been writer-in-residence at a Marie Curie Hospice, on the Acute Elderly Wards at Leeds General Infirmary and a writer/ facilitator for the Bronte Parsonage Museum. She works with the museums and galleries services as a workshop leader and runs The Creative Doctor as a module on Leeds University's medical degree. A poem from her collection was short-listed for Forward Best Single Poem and included in the Forward Anthology 2009.  She won second prize in the 2013 Basil Bunting International Poetry Competition and was highly commended in the Charles Causley International Poetry Competition, 2014.

Sue said: "I wrote A Herbal for Migraine as a result of being both a gardener and a migraine sufferer.  I had read somewhere that St Theresa had also been a sufferer but interpreted her visual disturbance as a vision of  the new Jerusalem and so embraced the symptoms rather than taking an ancient herbal cure."

onion © Hippocrates initiative 2012: hippocrates.poetry@gmail.com