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Aspiring young poets challenged to write winning entry for international medical poetry competition

Teenagers are being encouraged to take on the pros in the international competition for poetry and medicine, the 2011 Hippocrates Prize, which is for unpublished poems in English.

There is a £15,000 award fund for the prizes, which will be given in an ‘open’ category, which anyone can enter, and in an ‘NHS’ category which is open to National Health Service employees, health students and those working in professional organisations involved in education and training of NHS students and staff.

With a 1st prize for the winning poem in each category of £5,000, the Hippocrates prize is one of the highest value poetry awards in the world for a single poem.

This is the second year that the Prize has been awarded, organised by a joint team from the University of Warwick’s Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies and the University’s Medical School.

Warwick Medical School’s Professor Donald Singer said: “We are delighted to be continuing the highly successful format of the inaugural Hippocrates Prize. A new twist is that we also now aim to encourage aspiring young poets to take on the more established poets in the competition; many outstanding poets have started writing great work at a young age.”

And one poet, who started her publishing career early, is keen to inspire other young wordsmiths to get involved in the Hippocrates Prize.

Clare Pollard said: “Having my poetry published when I was sixteen altered my life.  It made me believe I could actually be a writer, and vow to work as hard as I could to make it happen. 

“After years of shyness, it made me feel people might be interested in what I had to say.

“The great thing about poetry is that age doesn't matter. It's hard as a teenager to find the time and stamina to write a perfect novel, but you can write three perfect verses.  If you put down the things you really want to say about our world, in your own voice, you will have written a powerful poem.”

Peter Williams, English teacher at New College, Wellington, Telford’s Sixth Form College, said “We are delighted to hear of the Hippocrates Prize. We see poetry as having a special place in our development of literacy skills in young people.

“The inter-disciplinary nature of this prize is particularly exciting in breaking down artificial barriers between the arts and science. We are looking forward to being involved.”

Michael Hulse, of the University of Warwick’s English and Comparative Literary Studies department, added: “The term ‘medical’ can be interpreted in the widest sense. Entries are open to members of the public, poets, patients, their friends and families and to health professionals and students. 

“All winning and commended poems will be published in a further Anthology of 46 poems.”

The closing date for the 2011 Hippocrates Prize is 31st January 2011.  The Awards will be announced at an International Symposium on Poetry and Medicine on 7th May 2011.

The inaugural 2010 Hippocrates Prize attracted more than 1,600 entries from 31 countries, and resulted in Open and NHS awards to nationally and internationally recognized poets.

The winner in the ‘open’ category for 2010 was New Zealand poet CK Stead and in the ‘NHS’ category Wendy French, who facilitates creative writing for NHS professionals.

For details of how to enter the 2011 Prize, and for the Anthology and podcasts related to the inaugural 2010 Prize, visit

Notes to editors
For more information, please contact Luke Hamer, Assistant Press Officer, University of Warwick on 02476 575 601 or 07824 541142, or alternatively email

Clare Pollard  has published three collections of poetry with Bloodaxe: The Heavy Petting Zoo (1998), Bedtime (2002) and Look, Clare, Look! (2005). The first of these was largely written while she was still at school and she was subsequently chosen by the Poetry Society as one of Poetry Review’s “New Poets of 1996” at the age of only 16. She went on to win an Eric Gregory Award in 2000.

Donald Singer, 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.

The prize is supported by:
  • The Fellowship of Postgraduate Medicine, a national medical society founded in 1918 and publisher of the Postgraduate Medical Journal
  • Heads, Teachers and Industry, an educational charity in existence for almost 25 years, which brings together schools and businesses to support the next generation in getting the education they deserve
  • 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.   

Themes for prize entries may include the nature of the body and anatomy; the history, evolution, current and future state of medical science; the nature and experience of tests; the experience of doctors, nurses and other staff in hospitals and in the community.

Other topics might include experience of patients, families, friends and carers; experiences of acute and long-term illness, dying, birth, cure and convalescence; the patient journey; the nature and experience of treatment with herbs, chemicals and devices used in medicine.


There is both an ‘open’ category, which anyone can enter, and in an ‘NHS’ category which is open to National Health Service employees, health students and those working in professional organisations involved in education and training of NHS students and staff.

Poems entered must be of no more than 50 lines. Submissions must be anonymised, contact details provided separately from title and text of a submitted poem. All submissions must be made by the deadline of 31st January 2011, and must be accompanied by an entry fee (£6 per poem). For more details please visit the website


In each category there will be: 1st prize £5,000, 2nd prize £1,000, 3rd  prize of £500, and 20 commendations each of £50.     


The Hippocrates Prize judges include:

  • Gwyneth Lewis who was appointed Wales’ first National Poet in 2005. She is celebrated for her writings on poetry and medicine, including her recent, A Hospital Odyssey, published in 2010 (Bloodaxe) and described by Nobel Prize-winner Sir Martin Evans as a ‘beautifully written poem that describes the epic journey of the soul…’.
  • Professor Steve Field CBE who was Chairman of the Council of the Royal College of General Practitioners from 2007-2010. Professor Field is recognised as a national leader in medical education. He is a Member of the Faculty of Harvard University’s program for leading innovation in healthcare and education.


More Information

Hippocrates Prize Website

Hippocrates Prize