Human experience at its most raw: the short-list for the 2015 Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine

Poets from New York and the UK, a general practitioner, a radiologist and a former counsellor are among finalists for this year’s Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine. At £5000 first prize in both Open and NHS categories, this is one of the highest value poetry awards in the world for a single poem. The winners will be announced at an International Symposium on Poetry and Medicine at the Medical Society of London on Friday May 22nd.

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Now in its 5th year, the short-listed entries for the 2015 Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine have been selected from around 1000 entries, from 31 countries by judges poet Rebecca Goss, psychiatrist Professor Femi Oyebode and doctor and writer Theodore Dalrymple.

Short-listed in the Open Category are teacher and writer Maya Popa from New York, and poets Pascale Petit and Catherine Ayres from the UK. Competing for the UK NHS 2015 Hippocrates £5000 first prize are former counsellor Kate Compston, GP Ann Lilian Jay, tutor Carole Bromley and radiologist Rowena Warwick.

The judges also agreed 13 commendations in the NHS category, and 18 in the Open International category, from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, the USA and New Zealand.

Judge Rebecca Goss said: “The subject of medicine is sprawling and complex, but poetry is the perfect medium to explore it closely and aid our understanding of human experience at its most raw. A variety of voices make up the winning and commended entries in this year’s Hippocrates Prize. Experiences of both medic and patient are explored, but so too, are the insights of the bystander. Included in this list are the carers, the relatives, the friends, revealing the impact illness also has on their lives.”

Judge Professor Femi Oyebode said “I feel very privileged to be involved in the Hippocrates poetry prize. This experience has been most humbling.”

He added: “The wondrous thing is to imagine that these are poems written by healthcare workers who, in their everyday work, deploy their technical expertise with emotional commitment and compassion, all over the world, in a variety of settings in order to care for people; and yet, in-between times, having observed the most extraordinary human situations of trauma, tragedy, hope, despair, death and suffering, find the words to communicate these with sensitivity, with original and unique images, and sometimes with humor.”

Judge Theodore Dalrymple remarked: “Once again, the Hippocrates Prize has stimulated poets and health workers around the word to put their experiences of hope, despair, sadness, and compassion into poetic form, with impressive success.”

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.

Notes to editors: 
Photos of all finalists, along with biographies and extracts of their poems are available on request. Contact 07447 441666 or

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

The 2015 Hippocrates Anthology of winning and commended poems will be launched at an Awards Ceremony in London on Friday 22nd May.

The Hippocrates Prize judges

Rebecca Goss grew up in Suffolk. She returned to live in the county in 2013, after living in Liverpool for twenty years. Her first collection The Anatomy of Structures was published by Flambard Press in 2010. Her second collection, Her Birth (Carcanet/Northern House), was shortlisted for The 2013 Forward Prize for Best Collection and winner of the Poetry Category in The 2013 East Anglian Book Awards. In 2014 she was selected for The Poetry Book Society’s Next Generation Poets. Photo by Rosie Bennett.

Femi Oyebode is Professor of Psychiatry University of Birmingham & Consultant  Psychiatrist National Centre for Mental Health Birmingham. His research interests include clinical psychopathology and medical humanities. His publications include Sims’ Symptoms in the Mind: textbook of descriptive psychopathology 5th edition (translated into Italian, Portuguese and Estonian); Mindreadings: literature and psychiatry; & Madness at the Theatre.

He is a poet and his published works include Naked to your softness and other dreamsForest of transformationsMaster of the leopard huntIndigo, camwood and mahogany red; & Femi Oyebode: Selected poems (edited O. Okome). For a critical review of his poetry see Home and exile in Femi Oyebode’s poetry (edited Obododimma Oha).

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 Admirable Evasions: How Psychology Undermines Morality (2015).

Hippocrates Prize Organisers Professor Donald Singer is President of the Fellowship of Postgraduate Medicine. His interests include research on discovery of new therapies, and public understanding of drugs, health and disease. He co-authors Pocket Prescriber, the 8th edition of which is published by Taylor & Francis in the summer of 2015. Professor 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 book of poems, Half-Life (2013), was named a Book of the Year by John Kinsella.

The 2015 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.