Poets from Ireland, the UK, the USA, Australia and Canada are among the winners of major awards in this year’s £6,000 Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine, just announced at an awards ceremony at Harvard in the USA this weekend.
The judges were Pulitzer winner Jorie Graham, paediatrician and ER producer Neal Baer, Scotland's Makar (National Poet), Jackie Kay, New York poet Maya Catherine Popa, and New York Poet and psychiatrist Owen Lewis.
Unusually, the international Hippocrates Prize attracts both health professionals and established poets from around the world - with a strong emphasis on highly accessible poetry that comes from direct personal experience. This year the themes ranged from setting up a field hospital in Iraq, to recovery from depression, illness in children, breast cancer, and in the Young Poet's category, to a description of how Alzheimer's affects a grandfather's face.
“These poems show us everything we have in common,’” said Jackie Kay. "They help us with grief and grieving. But above all they make us cherish life, our health, our minutes and our hours. I’d keep these poems about me as my companions. They radiate light. One minute you’re reading a poem from a patient, the next a doctor, the next a nurse, the next a porter, the next a friend, the next a family member. One minute you’re reading a poem set in a standard hospital in the UK, the next a makeshift hospital in Iraq"
The FPM Hippocrates Health Professional First Prize went to Kathy D’Arcy from Cork, Ireland for a poem exploring the human heart. First runner-up was respiratory physician Andrew Dimitri from Sydney, Australia, who wrote about the challenges of setting up a field hospital near the Mosul front line. Andrew Dimitri also works a doctor for the international humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières. Second runner-up was Iora Dawes, from Stafford, who has worked as a medical social worker. Iora wrote about the experience of parents awaiting the outcome of surgery on a child in hospital.
The FPM Hippocrates Open First Prize went to poet Alisha Kaplan from Toronto in Canada for a poem about recovery from depression. Runners-up were Claire Collison from London, England for a poem set in a natural oasis hidden on Hampstead Heath and Rosie Jackson from Somerset in England for a poem about alleviating mental distress.
The winner of the Hippocrates £500 Young Poet Award was Erin O'Malley, Pennsylvania, USA writing about Alzheimer’s in her grandfather. The short-listed Hippocrates Young Poets were from the USA Rachel Litchman, Michigan and Joyce Zhou, Illinois; from the UK Roberta Maia Sher, London and Izzy Wythe, Oundle; and from Singapore Vernon Yian.