2020 FPM-Hippocrates Prize Open Commendation biographies

Robert Gainer - Bio Pic

ROBERT GAINER is a poet from the Coventry and Warwickshire area of the UK. He is active in the local poetry community and is completing postgraduate studies in poetry and literary practice at the University of Warwick.

About Imposters he said: "My father deteriorated very suddenly in November. What presented first as a series of strokes and then as dementia and delirium, was eventually diagnosed as a urinary tract infection (UTI). I was struck by how difficult it was for the doctors to diagnose the UTI, but came to understand that this was because UTIs often present as other maladies. This gave me the sense that these other illness were imposters. I related this notion to experiences of my father, from a circus strongman challenging him as my childhood idol to the worst point in his illness, when he could not recognise me and I became the imposter."

Rosie Garland headshot credit Rachel saunders

ROSIE GARLAND is a novelist, poet and singer with post-punk band The March Violets. Her work appears in Under the Radar, Spelk, The RialtoEllipsisButcher’s Dog, Longleaf Review, The North and elsewhere. Forthcoming poetry collection ‘What Girls do the Dark’ (Nine Arches Press) is out in October 2020. She’s authored three novels: The Palace of Curiosities, Vixen, & The Night Brother, which The Times of London described as “a delight...with shades of Angela Carter.” In 2019, Val McDermid named her one of the UK’s Top 10 LGBT writers. http://www.rosiegarland.com        Twitter @rosieauthor 

As for words about the inspiration Eczema she said: "As a child, I suffered from terrible eczema. My entire body was covered, apart from the centre of my face, a mask of healthy skin. After leaving home at 18, it disappeared."

Hillary Headshot

HILARY HARES’ poems have found homes online, in print and in anthologies. She has a Poetry MA from MMU and has achieved success in a number of competitions. Her collection, A Butterfly Lands on the Moon supports Loose Muse, Winchester, and a new pamphlet, Red Queen is available from Marble Poetry - www.marblepoetry.com. Her own website is: www.hilaryhares.com

About the inspiration for At the District General she said : "This poem grew out of a sleepless night of pain from a badly broken leg.  It was day two in hospital and I was feeling utterly helpless and hopeless.  I’m not a religious person but, suddenly, a sense of myself as a spiritual being flooded over me and I realised I had sufficient self-reliance to get me through." 


MICHAEL HENRY has published four collections with Enitharmon Press and one with Five Seasons Press (2014). He lives in Cheltenham and won the 2011 Hippocrates Open Prize for Poetry.

He said: "My poem, The Parkinson Code, is based on my father who had the illness for about twenty years.He didn’t want his family to be upset and I remember him surreptitiously glancing at a red book. Before going into medicine he had studied Classics and that lay behind his Stoicism. I hope the Classicist in him would have approved of “the Euclid of bent back”.

SARAH HOLLAND-BATT is a poet from Hamilton in Queensland, Australia 

She was commended in the 2020 FPM-Hippocrates Open Awards for Kneeling Figure and Neurostimulator

NAIRN KENNEDY, originally from Glasgow,has worked in Leeds for many years and is an active member of the York Stanza group. After squeezing poetry into his spare time during a career as a lecturer in computing, he’s now able to devote more time to creative writing. He’s been published in Ambit, Orbis , Ink Sweat and Tears, and Poetry News, longlisted in the UK’s National Poetry Competition, and has twice been a prizewinner at the Ilkley Literature Festival.

Nairn said: “The News was partly based on an interview I had with a hospital  consultant, and the feeling I had of suddenly being divided from the outside world by a diagnosis. I’m fortunate in having a fairly mild and manageable condition, but this poem is for the thousands who have received much more challenging and life-changing news.”

Harriet MacMillan

DR HARRIET MACMILLAN is a writer of poetry and prose from Edinburgh, Scotland. She has a PhD in English Literature from the University of Edinburgh and a Master’s in Creative Writing from the University of Oxford. She works as a Literature Officer for Creative Scotland, the Scottish arts council, and as a tutor, editor and storyteller. 

The inspiration for the poem How to Conceive a Girl she said: "After a conversation with an expecting friend, I was reading about the ways in which it has been suggested you can preempt a baby’s sex. Guidance ranged from the (sometimes vaguely) scientific to the superstitious; I found the suggestions to be interestingly gendered. This “sugar and spice and all things nice” of conception fascinated me and I wanted to explore the significances of these approaches."

r JDM author

JAMES DAVIS MAY directs the creative writing program at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. His first poetry collection, Unquiet Things, was published by Louisiana State University Press in 2016. He has received fellowships from the Krakow Poetry Seminar, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and Inprint, and his honors include the Poetry Society of America’s Cecil Hemley Memorial Award and the Rattle Prize for Poetry Readers’ Choice Award.  

He said: "I began this poem after reading serval articles about Boston University’s Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center’s study of the American Football player Aaron Hernandez’s brain. Hernandez, who committed suicide in prison while serving a life sentence for murder, had stage-three CTE, and the images of the cross sections of his brain are startling, even to a layman, because they show that the tissue had severely atrophied while he was alive. CTE, which is almost certainly caused by head trauma (as well as other sources), has been linked to violence, suicide, and depression. Looking at those large cavities where this brain essentially melted away, I was struck by the idea that one of the causes of violence could be the brain’s decay. I was also struck by the idea that the researchers were asking, in a way, a question that has preoccupied poets for some time: the origins of violence—or, that is, the origins of evil, though I suspect the researchers wouldn’t call it that.”

Elisabeth Murawski - Photo by Janette Ogle

ELISABETH MURAWSKI is the author of Heiress, which received The Poetry Society of Virginia Book Award 2018, Zorba’s Daughter, which won the May Swenson Poetry Award, Moon and Mercury, and two chapbooks. Recent publications include The Yale Review, The Hudson Review, and The Carolina Quarterly. Her poem, “Duplex,” won the 2019 Ledbury Poetry Festival Poetry Competition. A native of Chicago, she currently lives in Alexandria, VA.

She said: "The Hiroshima Maidens were a group of 25 Japanese young women brought to the United States in 1955 for corrective surgery. School girls at the time the bomb was dropped, all had been incredibly disfigured both physically and emotionally. I first read Michiko Yamaoka’s story in Howard Zinn’s Voices of a People’s History of the United States. It is a nightmare story that should never be repeated. Hiroshima Maiden is a poem I felt compelled to write–for her, for her mother, for me at nine seeing pictures of the first mushroom cloud. For the blind. Michiko Yamaoka died in 2013."

Sue Norton

SUE NORTON has been published in various magazines and has had poems commended in other competitions, including one in the Hippocrates 2019 Open competition. She has a pamphlet forthcoming from Hedgehog Press. 

She said: "The commended poem From the front seat, I could see was based on a real-life emergency ambulance drive, when my father-in-law was rushed into hospital."

Robyn Joy Cancer poem photo

ROBYN JOY PEIRCE lives a quiet and thoughtful life in the capital city of Vermont, with her husband, Lloyd, and their beloved and precocious kitten, Thomas. She was previously published in volumes three and four of ONE IMAGINED WORD AT A TIME, the Writers for Recovery Anthology books. She enjoys yin yoga, singing with her band, Tin Talisman, writing zines and poetry, assembling art, and taking her dreams and thoughts apart. She and her small family are currently under doctor ordered full quarantine until further notice while they fight Lloyd’s Multiple Myeloma. They have been struggling to subdue this beast since September of 2018. When they aren’t planning their next camping adventure or mini road trip, they can be found chopping vegetables, learning to play poker, or narrating their humble life in made up songs.

She was commended in the 2020 FPM-Hippocrates Open Awards for the poem Cancer.

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ARIEN REED, a 2019 National University MFA graduate, lives with his husband and works at Fresno City College, where he co-founded the LGBTQ Allied Staff and Faculty Association on which he currently serves as president. His poetry and art has appeared, or is forthcoming, in What Rough Beast, TulipTree Review, La Piccioletta Barca, Beyond Words, the Infinity Room, the GNU journal, and others.

About the inspiration for his poem Counting back from 10   he said: "The recent political climate along with constant efforts of religious organizations and news networks to propagate transphobia with the goal of reducing trans rights and access to Gender Affirming care, largely for reasons not based in fact and often disproved by scientific studies, has made the United States a terrifying place for its many trans individuals. Due in part to widespread factually inaccurate and negative representations of gender transition, some of my friends and family have expressed horror at the very thought of my transition, Top Surgery in particular. Though the thought of being cut open and changed was, at first, not without its anxiety for me—hence the disturbing undercurrent to my poem—what cannot, and should never, be underrepresented is the fact that I will never realize my true self, and thus, true happiness, until I complete the risky, but immeasurably rewarding, journey toward bringing my body into greater congruence with my gender. Such a transition—which has brought only tremendous relief, self-love, and contentment—would not be possible if not for legal access to, and insurance coverage of, trans health care, and the kind and wonderful medical professionals overseeing and performing it."

Schwartz, Kaila

KAILA SCHWARTZ runs an award-winning theatre program at a secondary school in Northern California where she has spent the past 19 years teaching four different theatre courses and the occasional English literature course. She was the recipient of the 2019 Santa Clara County Federal Credit Union Arts Leadership Award and was named 2018 District Teacher of the Year. Her students have won multiple awards in playwriting and performance, and performed an original piece at the 2019 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. She has been writing for most of her life and is currently working on several writing projects, including her first novel. This is her first commendation and her first published work.

About the poem Chaplaincy she says, “I spent nearly seven years volunteering in the Spiritual Care department at Stanford Hospital. I began every shift by connecting with the natural world in some manner, either by looking out at one of several gardens or by paying close attention to the trees on my way into the hospital. This enabled me to be more present for the patients I visited.”  

JANE PICTON SMITH said: “I have a PhD in Contemporary Scottish Poetry and currently work in Community Development for the Church of Scotland.  I live with my husband and two daughters in rural Perthshire and my poetry is inspired by the natural world."

She added: "King Canute is about my mum, a learner, teacher and nature-lover, who has begun to experience memory loss.”

photo jwainscott

JANET WAINSCOTT lives near Christchurch, New Zealand, and writes poetry and essays. Her writing has appeared in literary magazines including takahe, Poetry NZ, Shot Glass Journal, The Island Review, and in recent New Zealand Poetry Society anthologies.

She said: "This is how it ends is based on events leading up to my mother’s death. She fought dementia for 12-years by steadfastly denying that there was anything wrong with her. The inspiration for the poem is the fleeting look in my mother’s eyes when she (and I) discovered that she had been put in a lap belt restraint and the terrible moment of clarity when she realised what had happened to her." 

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