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2011 Hippocrates Prize

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Wales' first national poet Gwyneth Lewis and outgoing Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners Professor Steve Field CBE have joined the judging panel for the international competition for poetry and medicine, the 2011 Hippocrates Prize, which has a £15 000 award fund for unpublished poems in English.

The prize has two categories: ‘Open’ awards, for which anyone in the world can enter, and a UK NHS related 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 first prize for the winning poem in each category of £5000, the Hippocrates prize is one of the highest value poetry awards in the world for a single poem.

Many outstanding poets have written their best work in their late teens. This time therefore, with the support of the charity Head Teachers and Industry, the organisers are also inviting young poets to take on the challenge.

The inaugural 2010 Hippocrates Prize attracted over 1600 entries from 31 countries, from the Americas to Fiji, Finland, and Australasia. The winner in the ‘Open’ category for 2010 was New Zealand poet, writer, and critic CK Stead; the winner in the ‘NHS’ category was Wendy French, who facilitates creative writing for NHS professionals.

About their 2010 awards, CK Stead said he was surprised and delighted to be the first winner, and remarked “I'm very happy the judges felt the experiment [writing about his own stroke] worked, and enormously grateful for this generous award”; and Wendy French 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”.

The 2011 prize is again organised by a joint team from the University of Warwick's Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies and from the University's Medical School.

Professor Singer said: “We are delighted to be continuing the highly successful format of the inaugural Hippocrates Prize, which resulted in Open and NHS awards to nationally and internationally recognised poets. A new twist is that we also now aim to encourage as many as possible aspiring young poets to take on the more established poets in the competition.”

Michael Hulse 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. We thank the Fellowship of Postgraduate Medicine, Warwick's Institute of Advanced Study, Head Teachers and Industry, and the Cardiovascular Research Trust for their support.”

The closing date for the 2011 Hippocrates Prize is 31 January 2011. Awards will be announced at an International Symposium on Poetry and Medicine on 7 May 2011. 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, l.hamer{at}, 02476 575 601, 07824 541142.

The Fellowship of Postgraduate Medicine is a national medical society founded in 1918 and publisher of the Postgraduate Medical Journal. Head Teachers and Industry is 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 is 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 the experience of patients, families, friends, and carers; the experiences of acute and long term illness and dying, of birth, of cure and convalescence; the patient journey; the nature and experience of treatment with herbs, chemicals, and devices used in medicine.


Poems entered must be of no more than 50 lines. Submissions must be made in an anonymised format, with contact details provided separately from the title and text of a submitted poem. All submissions must be made by the deadline of 31 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:

  • A first prize of £5000

  • A second prize of £1000

  • A third prize of £500

  • 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 by 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 to 2010. Professor Field is recognised as a national leader in medical education. He is a Member of the Faculty of Harvard University's programme for leading innovation in healthcare and education.


  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.

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