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Six finalists for the Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine 2011 announced

A former actor, dentist and rising New Zealand 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.

Broadcaster and writer Mark Lawson, former Welsh National Poet Gwyneth Lewis and leading GP Professor Steve Field, chairman of the National Inclusion Health Board, have whittled down the 1,500 entries to just six.

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

This year’s competition attracted entries from 23 countries right across the globe, with professional poets and amateurs submitting poems on a medical theme.

Rising poetry star New Zealander Johanna Emeney, Michael Henry, who has published five poetry collections, and former actor and playwright Cheryl Moskowitz have made the shortlist for the open category.

Last year’s NHS winner Wendy French will be hoping to take home the prize pot once again but faces stiff competition from part-time dentist Paula Cunningham, from Belfast, and Dr Sandy Goldbeck-Wood, associate specialist in psychosexual medicine in London.

Judge Mark Lawson said: "I have judged numerous literary prizes, in many genres. This, though, was one of the most fascinating because of the contrasting literary and medical perspectives among both the writers and the judges.

“A metaphor that was linguistically powerful would turn out, through examination and second opinion, to be medically suspect or vice versa. The winners chosen through this process honour the best qualities of the professions of both poetry and medicine."

Professor Steve Field added: "It is crucially important that health care workers understand the emotional journey of their patients. I was very impressed by the quality and range of entries. They show how poetry can help doctors, nurses and other NHS professionals gain better insight into how to practise the art of medicine and how patients perceive the care that they receive."

Gwyneth Lewis said: "It’s a privilege to find poets engaged in teasing art from suffering – on both sides of the white coat – with such style and substance."

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

The winning poems in the Hippocrates Prize, together with 20 commended poems in each category, are to be published in an anthology.

For details of how to attend the 2011 Awards Symposium, and for the 2010 Anthology and podcasts related to the 2010 and 2011 Prizes, visit

Notes to editors

Photos of all of the finalists, along with extracts of their poems are available on request.

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

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.  

Short list for the 2011 Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine

 Short list for Open Awards 

Johanna Emeney - Radiologist's report One of New Zealand's rising poetry stars, Cambridge Graduate Johanna's first first collection 'Apple & Tree' will be published in July 2011 by Cape Catley Ltd. Johanna's work has appeared in the UK in The Guardian, and in Metro, North & South, Takahe and other New Zealand publications. Jo Emeney is an English teacher who lives on Auckland's North Shore. She has been back home in New Zealand for four years, having spent fourteen years in England.


Michael Henry - The Patella Hammer Born in Liverpool in 1942, the son of an orthopaedic surgeon,Michael Henry grew up in Cheltenham where he now lives. He read Modern Languages at Oxford. In his twenties he emigrated to teach in Canada and had his first poems published there, and broadcast by the Canadian Broadcasting Company. Since returning to England he’s had five collections published, four with Enitharmon Press. Footnote to History (2001) is a poetic biography of his uncle who was a prisoner-of-war. His latest publication, After the Dancing Dogs (2008), is about journeys - real, imaginary and personal. The book he is currently working on concerns family and identity.


Cheryl Moskowitz - Correspondence with the Care Home Cheryl Moskowitz was born in Chicago and has lived in London since the age of 11. Formerly an actor and playwright she co-founded the organization LAPIDUS (Literary Arts in Personal Development) in 1996 and has trained in dramatherapy and psychodynamic counseling. She taught on the Creative Writing and Personal Development MA at Sussex University for fourteen years and currently facilitates writing projects in various areas of the community including schools, prisons and with the homeless. Her novel Wyoming Trail (Granta) was published in 1998 and her poetry collection for children, Can It Be About Me, (Circle Time Press) in 2009.



Short list for NHS Awards


Paula Cunningham - The Chief Radiographer Considers Paula Cunningham was born in Omagh Co Tyrone in 1963 and has lived in Belfast for much of her adult life. She works part-time as a dentist. Paula’s poems have been widely anthologised in Ireland and beyond. Her poetry chapbook, 'A Dog Called Chance' was published by Smith Doorstop Books in 1999. Generous selections occur in Bloodaxe's 'The New Irish Poets' and Lagan's 'Magnetic North.' She has also published short fiction, and written for radio and stage. Her book, A Dog Called Chance, was published by Smith Doorstop in 1999. She has also written plays for Tinderbox and BBC Radio 4, and a short story appeared in Faber’s Best New Irish Short Stories 2004-5.


Wendy French - The Doctor's Wife Wendy French promotes writing in healthcare, educational and community settings currently working on two projects with people who have suffered from strokes or brain damage. She is past head of the Bethlem and Maudsley Hospital School. She co- convenes the London group of Lapidus. Wendy won the NHS section of the Hippocrates Poetry & Medicine prize in April 2010. The winning poem, ‘it's about a man’, is about her father, one of the first doctors to work in the NHS in 1947. Wendy French’s new collection, surely you know this, was published by tall lighthouse in 2009. Wendy’s other collection Splintering the Dark and 3 co-edited books of poetry written by young people in hospital are all published by Rockingham.


Dr. Sandy Goldbeck-Wood - Inappropriate ADH Dr. Sandy Goldbeck-Wood is a doctor in gynaecology and psychosexual medicine, and a medical editor. She was commended for her NHS entry in the 2010 Hippocrates Prize.

The Hippocrates Prize judges

Mark Lawson is the main presenter of Front Row, BBC Radio 4's nightly arts programme and runs an interview series on BBC4 (Mark Lawson Talks To ...). He is a Guardian writer, is theatre critic of the Tablet and previously wrote for the Times, the Independent, the Independent on Sunday, and the Universe. Other writing includes 4 works of fiction, several BBC radio plays, and episodes of the BBC sitcom Absolute Power.

Gwyneth Lewis 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 is a national leader in medical education. He is Chairman of the National Health Inclusion Board and is a Member of the Faculty of the Harvard University program for leading innovation in healthcare and education. He was Chairman of the Council of the Royal College of General Practitioners from 2007-2010.


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. Judges for the inaugural 2010 Hippocrates Prize were broadcaster James Naughtie, poet and doctor, Dannie Abse and NHS Medical Director Sir Brian Keogh.

The 2011 Hippocrates prize is supported by
The Fellowship of Postgraduate Medicine, a national medical society founded in 1918 and publisher of the Postgraduate Medical Journal

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.

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