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Winners of first Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine announced

The winners of the first Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine 2010 have been announced in a ceremony held at the University of Warwick.

New Zealand poet CK Stead has taken top place in the ‘open’ category and Wendy French has been chosen as the judges’ favourite in the ‘NHS’ category.

CK Stead is a distinguished writer with a substantial international reputation as a poet, novelist and critic. He said he was surprised and delighted to be the first winner of the ‘open’ section of the Hippocrates poetry prize. His winning poem was called Ischaemia.

He said: “I wrote the poem in response to the announcement of the award.  Five years ago I had suffered what in retrospect can be seen as a minor (in terms of lasting effects), but none the less dangerous, stroke.  Over many years I have written poems in the persona of Catullus, so the Roman poet has become as much a fictional as an historical character, one to whom I have ready recourse in my writing.

“I decided therefore that Catullus would suffer the stroke I suffered, with the same effects, and that he would recover in the same way.  I’m very happy the judges felt the experiment worked, and enormously grateful for this generous award.”

Fellow winner Wendy French facilitates creative writing in health care and community settings for the NHS. She impressed the judges with her poem, It’s About a Man.

Wendy said: “I'm thrilled to have won the NHS section of this prize as my father was one of the first doctors to work for the NHS when it was formed in 1947. Since then, people from three generations of my family have been associated with the service. The winning poem was inspired by my father.”

Each winner was awarded £5,000 at an international symposium on Poetry and Medicine, held Saturday (10) at the University of Warwick. The prize was judged by broadcaster and journalist James Naughtie, NHS Medical Director Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, and poet Dannie Abse.

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 thank all those who entered from around the world. The tremendous national and international interest in this new award 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 Warwick Institute of Advanced Study and the Wellcome Trust”.

Notes to editors

The winning poems are available at

For more details please contact Professor Donald Singer on 07590 478078 and see the Hippocrates Prize Website :

Poetry and medicine is discussed in a recent Lancet article by Donald Singer and Michael Hulse: