Where science collides with life: short-list for the 2013 Hippocrates Prize

A Harvard physician, a rising New Zealand Poet, a BBC Wildlife Poet of the Year from Bristol, and a recent Afghanistan veteran are finalists for this year’s Open International Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine, at £5000 in both Open and NHS categories, one of the highest value poetry awards in the world for a single poem. Themes ranged from experience of a children’s hospital, to effects of cancer on a friend, the emergency call, and humanity underlying traditional grand rounds.

Now in its fourth year, the short-listed entries for the 2013 Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine have been selected from over 1000 entries from 32 countries by judges distinguished poet Jo Shapcott, psychiatrist and medical writer Dr Theodore Dalrymple, and Roger Highfield, science writer and Director of External Affairs at the Science Museum Group .

Short-listed poets in the Open Category are American Literature expert Liam Corley from California, Harvard Physician and poet Rafael Campo, from Massachusetts, published poet Matthew Barton from Bristol, in England, and poet, writer and former physiotherapist Sue Wootton from Dunedin in New Zealand.

And competing for the UK NHS 2013 Hippocrates £5000 first prize are family doctor Ann Lilian Jay from LLandysul in Wales, former nurse Ann Elisabeth Gray who runs a care home for dementia in Cornwall, poet and novelist Mary V Williams from Shropshire, hospital chaplain Ian McDowell, from London and senior lecturer in midwifery Bella Madden from Milton Keynes.

The winners will be announced at an International Symposium on Poetry and Medicine at the Wellcome Rooms in London on Saturday May 18th, which is being supported by the Fellowship of Postgraduate Medicine.

The judges also agreed 18 commendations in the NHS category - 1 each from Scotland and Wales and 16 from England; and 20 in the Open International category –  1 each from from Ireland, Scotland and Israel, 7 from the USA and 10 from the England, from the Isle of Wight to Yorkshire.

Judge Jo Shapcott said: 'The Hippocrates Prize, since its inception in 2009, has quickly established itself as one of the most important international prizes for poetry as well as providing a unique place for poetry and medicine to meet.  Its international reach is reflected in this years prizewinners who come from countries all round the globe, including New Zealand, the USA, Ireland, and Israel.“ 

She added: “You might imagine that poetry on medical themes would be sad, even grim reading, but far from it.  There was a lively range of subjects and perspectives in this year's batch, and the judges were lucky enough to be debating the merits of some outstanding poems which have in common their sheer brio, skill, and passion, and often an exhilarating deftness in deploying medical language so that it sings.”

Judge Roger Highfield commented 'The Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine works brilliantly because medicine is where science collides with life. Again and again I found myself transported in mind and spirit to unfamiliar situations where I encountered the memories, experiences and inner emotional worlds of others. I found it enthralling and, at times, disturbing, a powerful reminder of the mysterious way that a few words can herd our thoughts and emotions.'

Judge Theodore Dalrymple remarked “As the Hippocrates Prize once again demonstrates, health care is a fertile source of poetic inspiration. All the poems arise from the need to communicate a deep human experience, and succeed in doing so.”

The awards symposium will consider the relationship between poetry and medicine, with topics including poetry as therapy, using poetry in health professional training, the impact of health and disease on the professional poet and the history of poetry and medicine.

Speakers for the awards symposium are from the USA, UK, Spain and Switzerland. 

The Hippocrates Initiative – winner of the 2011 Times Higher Education Award for Innovation and Excellence in the Arts – is an interdisciplinary venture that investigates the synergy between medicine, the arts, and health.

To attend the Symposium see http://hippocrates-poetry.org

Notes to editors
Photos of the finalists, along with biographies and extracts of their poems are available on request.

For more information, please contact hippocrates.poetry@gmail.com

Awards: In each category there will be: 1st prize £5,000, 2nd prize £1,000, 3rd prize of £500, and 20 commendations each of £50.  

The Hippocrates Prize judges

Jo Shapcott was born in London. Poems from her three award-winning collections, Electroplating the Baby (1988), Phrase Book (1992) and My Life Asleep (1998) are gathered in a selected poems, Her Book (2000). She has won a number of literary prizes including the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Collection, the Forward Prize for Best Collection and the National Poetry Competition (twice). Tender Taxes, her versions of Rilke, was published in 2001. Her most recent collection, Of Mutability, was published in 2010 and won the 2011 Costa Book Award. She was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in December 2011.   Jo Shapcott teaches creative writing at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Theodore Dalrymple is the pen name for Dr Anthony Daniels, who has worked as a doctor in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Gilbert Islands, London and Birmingham, most recently as a psychiatrist and prison doctor. His writing has appeared regularly in the press and in medical publications, including the British Medical Journal, the Times, Telegraph, Observer and the Spectator and he has published around 20 books, most recently The Pleasure of Thinking.

Roger Highfield is the Director of External Affairs at the Science Museum Group. He was born in Wales, raised in north London and became the first person to bounce a neutron off a soap bubble. He was the Science Editor of The Daily Telegraph for two decades and the Editor of New Scientist between 2008 and 2011. Roger has written seven books and had thousands of articles published in newspapers and magazines

Hippocrates Prize Organisers

Donald Singer is Professor of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, University of Warwick, and President of the Fellowship of Postgraduate Medicine. His interests include research on discovery of new therapies, and public understanding of drugs, health and disease.

Michael Hulse is a poet and translator of German literature, and teaches creative writing and comparative literature at the University of Warwick. He is also editor of The Warwick Review.

His latest publications are: The Secret History (poems, Arc) and The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge (translation of Rilke's novel, Penguin Classics). With Donald Singer he co-founded in 2009 the International Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine.

2013 Hippocrates Prize is supported by:

The Fellowship of Postgraduate Medicine, a national medical society founded in 1918 and publisher of the Postgraduate Medical Journal and Health Policy and Technology, has supported the Hippocrates Prize since its launch in 2009.

The Cardiovascular Research Trust, a charity founded in 1996, which promotes research and education for the prevention and treatment of disorders of the heart and circulation. 

The National Association of Writers in Education, which is supporting the new Young Poets category in the Hippocrates Prize.

Heads Teachers and Industry is supporting the new Young Poets category in the Hippocrates Prize. HTI is a not-for-profit organisation with over 25 years experience of record of working across business, education and government to raise aspirations and employability of young people.




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