The winners of the 2011 Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine were announced at a special symposium at the University of Warwick on Saturday May 7.
Belfast dentist Paula Cunningham’s poem The Chief Radiographer was judged the best attempt in the NHS category of the competition, with the author taking the £5,000 top prize – one of the highest value poetry awards in the world for a single poem.
The Chief Radiographer began as a short story and contains astonishing details from the lives of scientists Marie and Pierre Curie.
In the Open division Michael Henry collected an identical first prize pot with his The Patella Hammer, which refers to Michael’s orthopaedic surgeon father’s love of climbing in the Zugspitze, in Germany, just before the war, and includes images of bringing a lame leg to life.
Open runners-up were rising poetry star New Zealander Johanna Emeney,(left), and London-based American playwright Cheryl Moskowitz. Last year’s NHS winner Wendy French was again highly rated, taking the NHS second place, with associate specialist in psychosexual medicine Dr Sandy Goldbeck-Wood in NHS third place.
This year’s Hippocrates Prize attracted around1,500 entries from 23 different countries across the globe, with professional and amateur poets submitting pieces on a medical theme.
Presentations by judges broadcaster Mark Lawson, leading GP Professor Steve Field CBE and poet Gwyneth Lewis took place at an International Symposium on Poetry and Medicine at the University of Warwick.
Broadcaster and writer Mark Lawson said: "I have judged numerous literary prizes, in many genres. This, though, was one of the most fascinating because of the contrasting literary and medical perspectives among both the writers and the judges. A metaphor that was linguistically powerful would turn out, through examination and second opinion, to be medically suspect or vice versa. The winners chosen through this process honour the best qualities of the professions of both poetry and medicine."
Professor Steve Field CBE added: "It is crucially important that health care workers understand the emotional journey of their patients. I was very impressed by the quality and range of entries. They show how poetry can help doctors, nurses and other NHS professionals gain better insight into how to practise the art of medicine and how patients perceive the care that they receive."
Poet Gwyneth Lewis said: "It’s a privilege to find poets engaged in teasing art from suffering – on both sides of the white coat – with such style and substance."
Organisers Professor of Therapeutics at Warwick Medical School Donald Singer and Warwick Writing Programme’s Michael Hulse were delighted with the success of the Prize and the symposium.
Donald Singer said: “We congratulate our award-winners and are delighted that 9 of 20 Open category commendations went to poets from the USA, Canada and New Zealand. The enormous international interest in the awards gives us great encouragement to continue the Hippocrates Prize as a major annual international award for poetry and medicine. ”
Michael Hulse added: “We are grateful for support for the Awards Symposium and the Hippocrates Prize from the Fellowship of Postgraduate Medicine, the Cardiovascular Research Trust and Heads, Teachers and Industry. The winning and commended poems in the Hippocrates Prize are available as an anthology from http://go.warwick.ac.uk/cpt/poetry/book”.
Johanna Emeney was well-recognized as runner-up by judge Mark Lawson in his Guardian Review article about the Hippocrates Prize, published on the day of the awards, 7th May: