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Short-list announced for 2012 Hippocrates Prize

A former nurse, a dentist, and an emerging US poet, are among six finalists for this year’s Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine - one of the highest value poetry awards in the world for a single poem.
Themes ranged from medicine in archaeology to the role of women in new life science, and from health in the developing world to frailty and memory.

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 the medicine, the arts, and health. Now in its third year, the short-listed entries for the 2012 Prize have been selected by judges broadcaster Martha Kearney, distinguished US poet Marilyn Hacker and medical scientist Professor Rod Flower FRS, from over 1000 entries from 32 countries.

Rising US poet Mary Bush, academic and writer Kelly Grovier, who has published two poetry collections, and published poet and writer-in-healthcare Shelley McAlister have made the shortlist for the Open Category. The prize, which has a £15,000 award fund, is split into two strands – an open category and an NHS category with both carrying a first prize of £5,000. In the NHS section, medical librarian Andy Jackson is competing with retired dentist Jane Kirwan and former nurse Nick MacKinnon, for the major £5000 award.

The winners will be announced at an International Symposium on Poetry and Medicine at the University of Warwick on 7 May, which is being supported by the Fellowship of Postgraduate Medicine.

The judges also agreed commendations for 20 entries in the NHS category and 20 in the Open International category - 2 from Australia, 1 from New Zealand, 7 from the USA and 10 from the UK. Commended entries considered themes from birth to imaging, cancer, health and disease in art, history of medicine and illness.

Judge Martha Kearney said: ‘Who would have thought that such beautiful poetry could be inspired by lab instruments, tissue engineering or MRI scans? It has been fascinating to sift through such an interesting range of work right at the very nexus of science and art.’

Judge Rod Flower added: 'Like literary X-rays, these poems penetrate into the emotional structure of humankind’s age-old struggle against disease, whether it be at the hospital, the patient's bedside or in the science laboratory'.

The awards symposium will consider the relationship between poetry and medicine, with topics including poetry as therapy, using poetry in health professional training, the impact of health and disease on the professional poet and the history of poetry and medicine.

Speakers on the day will come from the around the UK, the USA, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Greece, and Russia. MEP Eleni Theocharous will speak and attendees will also be treated to a reading by Jo Shapcott, the recent winner of the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry.

To attend the Symposium see

The shortlisted poems can be viewed here.

Notes to editors
Photos of all of the finalists, along with extracts of their poems are available on request.
For more information, please contact
Awards: In each category there will be: 1st prize £5,000, 2nd prize £1,000, 3rd prize of £500, and 20 commendations each of £50.

Hippocrates Prize Organisers:

Donald Singer is Professor of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, University of Warwick, and President of the Fellowship of Postgraduate Medicine. His interests include research on discovery of new therapies, and public understanding of drugs, health and disease.
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 publications are: The Secret History (poems, Arc) and The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge (translation of Rilke's novel, Penguin Classics). With Donald Singer he co-founded in 2009 the International Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine. Sorcha Gunne is a Post-doctoral Fellow working with the Warwick Research Collective in the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies. Prior to this appointment, she was an Early Career Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Study. Her research specialism is World literatures in English, particularly twentieth-century and contemporary writing.

The 2012 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, and 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.