2015 Hippocrates Open and NHS Awards


1st Prize: Maya Catherine Popa, USA  A Technique for Operating on the Past

2nd Prize: Pascale Petit, England  In the Giraffe House

3rd Prize: Catherine Ayres, England  Making love to LINAC



1st Prize: Kate Compston, Bude  Lovely young consultant charms my husband

2nd Prize: Ann Lilian Jay, Bangor Teifi  Night Visit

3rd Prize: Carole Bromley, Stockton  On hearing for the first time

3rd Prize: Rowena Warwick, Thame  Mrs Noone 

Biographies of shortlisted poets and inspiration for their poems

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Catherine Ayres  is a teacher who lives in Northumberland.  Her poems have appeared in a number of print and online magazines, including Ink, Sweat and Tears and The Moth. She recently came third in Ambit magazine’s ‘Under the Influence’ competition. Some of her poems will be published in pamphlet form by Black Light Engine Room later this year.

About Making love to LINAC she said: "I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012. This poem is about my experience of radiotherapy. It was written in response to a prompt set by Jo Bell in her online poetry group '52'. Writing about the treatments I underwent has helped me to accept what happened and move forward into life after major illness.”

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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, Carole said: "On hearing for the first time was written after watching very moving footage on the news of a woman hearing for the first time in her life after receiving a cochlear implant.”

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Kate Compston practised as a psychodynamic counsellor, working in an agency and GP surgeries in Hampshire.  Now retired, she is a ‘returner’ to Cornwall and a keen member of the Indian King Poetry Group in Camelford. She won the 2014 Cornwall Contemporary Poetry Prize, and has been commended in other recent competitions.  She has many interests, including sea-swimming, walking the Cornish cliffs, beachcombing, reading, and her two high-decibel grandsons. She has recently trained as a Soul Midwife, and is concerned that the dying be heard, and given as many options and as much tender care as they need.

Lovely young consultant charms my husband was prompted by the visit, 13 years ago, of the very attractive and talented psycho-geriatrician, who came to our home to give us the news of my husband Malcolm’s diagnosis. The two or three brain scans she’d requested had indicated beyond reasonable doubt that he had Dementia with Lewy Bodies. For some reason that is still obscure to me, he was “a fascinating case”, and was asked whether he would mind being the subject of a research paper. Malcolm was himself a scientist, and was much taken by this idea – which never in fact came to fruition. But he was also entirely won over by the grace, glamour and tenderness of the consultant, who gave both of us a great deal of time. What stayed with me for years afterwards was the tension I could see being played out within her, on this occasion, between professional scientific excitement about something unusual, and her humanity: of course she knew that the news meant only one thing: Malcolm’s inevitable deterioration and death. My husband was much helped in the early stages by good medication to control his hallucinations. These never entirely left him, but they became less terrifying – and they compensated, a little later, for his increasing loss of sight (glaucoma): he ‘saw’ so much that he denied his blindness. He died in 2006.

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Ann Jay  has an MA in Medical Humanities from the University of Swansea. After a brief flirtation with Paediatrics she found her spiritual home in General Practice, initially in Sheffield where she qualified, and then in West Wales where home visits used to involve getting lost in country lanes and occasional glimpses of the sea. Since retiring in 2010 she has been indulging a lifelong love of writing and has the draft of a children’s novel and assorted poetry to show for her efforts. She also works with a charity that seeks to improve health care in the Luwero district of Uganda and volunteers with a local charity developing hospice care in West Wales. Otherwise she likes to read, garden, travel and spend time with her growing collection of granddaughters.

About Night Visit: she said: “The poem is based on a night visit I did many years ago long before the advent of satnav. The night was so foggy that you felt lost even in the most familiar of surroundings. On a fine day I can see the windmills mentioned from my garden, although they are some way away, but on a bad night ‘up there’ always seems especially eerie. In those days of a one in four rota night visits felt the most onerous of our duties, but often were also the most rewarding as we knew our patients well. Part of me was very sad to give them up."

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Pascale Petit (photo credit: Kaido Vainomaa) was born in Paris and lives in London. Her sixth collection Fauverie was shortlisted for the 2014 T S Eliot Prize and five poems from the book won the 2013 Manchester Poetry Prize. Her fifth collection What the Water Gave Me: Poems after Frida Kahlo was shortlisted for both the T S Eliot Prize and Wales Book of the Year, and was a Book of the Year in the Observer. Pascale has had three collections chosen as Books of the Year in the Times Literary Supplement, Independent and Observer. She was selected as a Next Generation Poet in 2004 and her books have been translated into many languages.

Pascale said: “I wrote ‘In the Giraffe House’ last Christmas while I was on a writing retreat in Paris. I frequently visited the Zoo de Vincennes to research for my seventh collection in progress Mama Amazonica. This extended sequence is my attempt to love my mother through the beauty of animals. She suffered from severe mental illness and wasn’t well enough to bring me up so we had a difficult relationship. That day at the zoo it was freezing and to warm up I went into the giraffe house. I’d only ever seen the giraffes outdoors, but there they were, all seventeen of them, viewed from above through a glass wall. One giraffe was obsessively licking the glass in front of to me. I was mesmerised by her huge distorted head and the rest of her body plunging into the depths. It was just like visiting a very sick person in hospital, that feeling of everything being alienated and behind glass, of health being far away as an African savannah. I took photos on my iPhone as notes, and used them to write the poem that evening. The giraffe reminded me of my last visit to my mother in hospital before she died, and what it was like to really look at her.”

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Maya C. Popa is a teacher and writer living in New York City. She holds degrees from Oxford University, where she was a Clarendon Scholar, NYU, and Barnard College. Her poetry appears in Tin HouseKenyon ReviewPoetry London, and elsewhere. Her essays and criticism appear widely, including in Poets & Writers MagazinePN ReviewThe Rumpus, and The Huffington Post. Her first collection of poems, Severe Clear, was completed this year, and she is at work on her second collection.www.mayacpopa.com

About her poem A Technique for Operating on the Past, Maya said: "There is something pleasantly elliptical about the fact that a neuroscientist relies on the very instrument that is the subject of his study. I had long wanted to write a poem about Gr.T. Popa, my great-grandfather, after whom the Medical University in Iași, Romania, is named. He worked on neuromorphology in the 1930s and 40s, but his remarkable research was ultimately cut short in light of his anti-fascist, and anti-communist affiliations. That he was forced into hiding and died of a routine ailment while escaping the communists still seems a dark irony. In a way, writing this poem felt like a letter to him, an acknowledgement of that unfairness.”

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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 Mrs Noone Rowena said: "Loneliness, particularly in the elderly, is so common and of such importance in disease. The clinical procedure may not be the most important part of the interaction but a waiting room full of equally important patients can undermine a holistic approach. This poem is an expression of the tension between  pressure of work, the empathy of the clinician and the needs of the patient."

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