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Warwick team inspired poetry competition wins national award

University of Warwick team inspired poetry and medicine contest wins national award


The Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine has been named winner of the THE Award for Excellence and Innovation in the Arts given by the Times Higher Education.


Co-founded by Professor Donald Singer, from Warwick Medical School, and Michael Hulse, from the University of Warwick’s English and Comparative Literary Studies department, the Hippocrates Prize is now in its third year. The prize is run in close association with an annual symposium on poetry and medicine.


Professor Singer said: “This Award is a tribute to the remarkable enthusiasm and generosity of staff at the University, our external supporters and partner organisations, and to the many members of the public, health professionals, poets and academics in the UK and internationally who have engaged in our evolving poetry and medicine initiative.”

Michael Hulse said; “The Hippocrates poetry and medicine venture has yielded new insights andunderstanding in both fields, as well as fine poems, and this extraordinary recognition offers very important support.”

With a first prize of £5,000 the Hippocrates Prize is one of the highest value poetry awards for a single poem in the world. Second place in each category is awarded £1,000, third £500 and 20 commendations each receive £50.


In the previous two years the Hippocrates Prize has attracted more than 3,000 entries from 31 countries, from the Americas to Fiji, and from Finland to Australasia.


The prize is split into two categories; the Open category, which anyone in the world can enter; and the NHS category, which is open to UK National Health Service personal, health students and whose working in professional organisations involved in education and training of NHS student and staff.


Poems have to be based on a broad medical theme, which could include the nature of the body and anatomy; history, evolution, current and future state of medical science; nature and experience of tests; experience of doctors, nurses and other medical 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.


And this year BBC broadcaster Martha Kearney has been announced as the third and final judge for this year’s competition.


The BBC Radio 4 presenter joins New York poet and critic Marilyn Hacker and medical scientist Professor Rod Flower FRS on the judging panel of the competition, which is in its third year.


Entries for this year’s prize are now open, with the deadline set for 31st January.


The winners of the prize will be announced at the International Symposium on Poetry and Medicine at the Wellcome Collection rooms, in London, on May 12th 2012, which has added the University of Warwick’s Sorcha Gunne to the organising team.


Notes to Editors


Martha Kearney is the main presenter for BBC Radio 4’s lunchtime news programme ‘The World at One’. She previously worked for Channel 4, presented the BBC’s Woman’s Hour, Today and PM and was political editor for Newsnight. She has been commended for her national and international reporting, including for work on child poverty. She has been a judge for the Webb Essay Prize and the Guardian First Book Award, and has chaired the judging panel for the Orange Prize for Fiction.


Marilyn Hacker is one of America's most distinguished living poets. Her first collection, Presentation Piece (1974), won the National Book Award. In 2009, she won the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation for King of a Hundred Horsemen by Marie Étienne. In 2010, she received the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry.


Rod Flower is Professor of Biochemical Pharmacology at the WIlliam Harvey Research Institute[21] in London. His main scientific research interests concern inflammation and anti-inflammatory drug mechanisms. He was formerly President of the British Pharmacological Society and is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences.


Marilyn Hacker said: ‘The enormous scope and the intense focus provided by this conjunction combine to entice and hold a reader's attention. The poems I read from the 2011 submissions touched basic and utterly complex human issues, with extreme attention and with admirable verbal bravura. I look forward to reading the new ones.’


Rod Flower observed that ‘poetry can reconnect us with ourselves, and with the outside world, in a way that promotes a feeling of well-being and acceptance…and in some mysterious way, poetry enables us to gain traction on the conflicting emotions stirred up by the suffering of disease or the triumph of the cure.’


He added that ‘As a professional pharmacologist with a deep interest in the discovery and use of new medicines to mitigate the ravages of disease, I am delighted to be amongst the panel of judges this year and am eagerly anticipating the challenge of enjoying – and assessing – this year’s entries.’


The 2012 Awards are supported by the Fellowship of Postgraduate Medicine and the Cardiovascular Research Trust.

The Hippocrates initiative for poetry and medicine was co-founded by clinician and medical researcher Professor Donald Singer, from Warwick Medical School, and poet and translator Michael Hulse, from the University of Warwick’s English and Comparative Literary Studies department. The 2012 awards are co-organized by humanities researcher Sorcha Gunne.



See also

- Enter online for the 2012 Hippocrates awards for poetry and medicine

- Register for the 12th May International Symposium on Poetry and Medicine

- Submit a paper for the 12th May International Symposium on Poetry and Medicine
- Nominate your favourite poem with a medical theme
- View and listen to podcasts from 2010 and 2011 Hippocrates Awards and Symposia 
- Press and media reports on previous Hippocrates Awards
- Order Anthology for 2010 or 2011 winning entries for the Hippocrates Awards 
- Hippocrates poetry and medicine initiative
- International Hippocrates Research Forum for poetry and medicine. This includes poets, academics and health professionals in the UK, Europe and the USA.

- Origins of the Hippocrates poetry and medicine initiative  


Poems entered are to be of no more than 50 lines and submitted online, accompanied by an entry fee (£6 per poem).
Judging of submissions will be anonymised.
The deadline for submissions is 31st January 2012.
For more details please visit the website

The Fellowship of Postgraduate Medicine is a national medical society founded in 1918 and publisher of the Postgraduate Medical Journal and Health Policy and Technology.


The Cardiovascular Research Trust is a charity founded in 1996, which promotes research and education for the prevention and treatment of disorders of the heart and circulation. The charity founded Healthy Heart Awards for schools and colleges.

For more interviews with the organising team contact Professor Donald Singer on 07590 478078.

For more information contact Luke Hamer, assistant press officer, University of Warwick on 02476 575601, or on 07824 541142. Alternatively email