2019 Hippocrates Health Professional Awards for Poetry and Medicine

The 10th annual International Symposium on Poetry and Medicine and the 2019 Hippocrates Awards Ceremony was held on Friday 17th May 2019 at the Life Science Centre, Times Square, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 4EP

Poets who attended were invited to read their shortlisted and commended poems during the Awards Ceremony.

Hear Sharon Ackerman read her winning poem

2019 FPM-Hippocrates Health Professional Awards

1st prize: Sharon Ackerman, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA   Dementia Praecox

2nd prize: Denise Bundred, Camberley, Surrey, England    Addressing a Fetal Heart

3rd prize: Melinda Kallasmae, Strathdale, Victoria, Australia    Advance care directive 

3rd prize: Siddharth Warrier, Thane, Maharashtra, India    Limbic love 

Commended in the 2019 FPM-Hippocrates Health Professional Awards

Audrey Ardern-Jones, Epsom, Surrey, England  The Basement in the Hospital

Richard Berlin, Richmond, Massachusetts, USA    Eye Contact

Debby Jo Blank, Portland, Oregon, USA    What is spilled for a cause

Roger Bloor, Newcastle, Staffordshire, England    In All Those Years At Medical School

Carole Bromley, York, England    Sodium 136

Denise Bundred, Camberley, Surrey, England    Panacea

Elizabeth Davies, Sydenham, London, England    Memorial service for Dame Cicely Saunders

Iora Dawes, Stafford, Staffordshire, England    Returning

Robert James Ferris, Reading, Berkshire, England    Maximum Security One

Joseph Gascho, Hummelstown, Pennsylvania, USA    Delivering Bad News

Ann Elisabeth Gray, Liskeard, Cornwall, England    Is it in your diary, Dear?

Emma Halliday, Preston Lancashire, England     The MOT

Rosie Holdsworth, Hemel Hempstead Herts, England    In Sickness

Sara Johansson, Göteborg, Sweden    It Will Only Feel Like a Bee Sting

David Lanier, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA    Impatience

Jane McGuffin, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA    Inner-City ER

Julia Meade, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA     Superwoman

Amelie Meltzer, Oakland, California, USA    Vigil  

Jonathan Richards, Merthyr Tydfil, Wales    Negotiating rapids 

Nicholas Samaras, West Nyack, New York, USA    A Language Of Flowers And Vision In Old Age

Karen Schofield, Wilmslow Cheshire England    Junior Doctor Learning Log

Judith Wozniak, Fareham, Hampshire, England    Peggy and George

r Sharon Ackerman

Sharon Ackerman earned an M.Ed from the University of Virginia, Charlottesville and has worked as a nurse in the UVA Pain Clinic for fifteen years.  Her poems have been published in Heartwood Literary Magazine, StreetLight Magazine, and forthcoming in the Atlanta Review.

Her poem Dementia Praecox was written for close friend and fellow nurse Julia, who died of  early onset dementia. She said: "The relentless theft of dementia brought us (her co-workers) to the edge of our assumptions about what makes us who we are, and where the soul, if one believes in souls, resides.”

r Audrey in sunshine

Audrey Ardern-Jones has spent her career in the NHS working as a nurse in various roles including community nursing and onco-genetic clinical practice and research.  As a poet she has been published in many journals and anthologies and been a prize winner and commended in various competitions including: The Troubadour  International Poetry Prize, The Flambard Poetry Prize; The Gregory O’ Donoghue International Poetry Competition; The Robert Graves Prize and long listed for The Poetry Society Competition  Her first collection ‘Doing the Rounds’ is to be published this year by Indigo Dreams.

She said: "The poem Basement in the Hospital was inspired by personal experience  – being a relative and not a professional is very interesting. The effect of the experience is one of loneliness, fear at the end of life, the closing down of experience to sitting in corridors waiting for things to happen to other people, that are also happening to oneself. Strangers connecting has always been a topic of fascination.”    

r Richard Berlin

Richard M. Berlin is the author of three poetry collections. His poems have appeared monthly in Psychiatric Times since 1997. He is on the faculty of the University of Massachusetts Medical School and practices psychiatry in a rural town in the Berkshire hills.

About Eye Contact he said: "I wrote this poem in response to an invitation from Richard Ratzan, MD for a proposed anthology, Imagining Vesalius. Dr. Ratzan asked poets and writers to select any image from De Humani Corporis Fabrica (The Structure of the Human Body), by the physician/anatomist Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564). I was instantly drawn to the portrait of Vesalius standing with a dissected cadaver and looking directly into the eyes of the viewer. Suddenly, I felt like I was in the presence of Vesalius himself, making eye contact with a colleague from 500 years ago."

r Debby Jo Blank

Debby Jo Blank, M.D. moved to Portland, OR to retire.  Hallelujah!  She had been living in the desert in Tucson, AZ, a parched poetry town, which she exchanged for a wet NW Pacific poetry town.  Most people transition in the opposite direction.  She is moved to explore both medicine and science in her poetry.  

She said that in this poem What is spilled for a cause, she juxtaposes war with the bloodstream.  Herperusal of the news on-line reminds her daily of the battles being foughtaround the globe.  Here, the red blood cell takes on the role of soldier. She doesn't personally know anyone whose name is inscribed in the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C.  But when she visited, on several occasions, and ran her hand along the engraved granite and felt the namesw ith her fingertips, she did wonder how people could reach the names too high for even basketball players. 

publicity photo 2018

Roger Bloor is a retired consultant psychiatrist, currently a student on the MA in Poetry Writing from Newcastle University studying at the Poetry School in London.He has been published in The Hippocrates Prize Anthology 2017, Poetry Now Anthology " Growing Old', Allegro Poetry, Affect Publications 'StillBorn' , Words for the Wild Anthology 2018, The Bridges Anthology 2018 , Landscapes Anthology 2018  and Magma. His collection of Poems 'A Less Clear Dream' was shortlisted for the Arnold Bennet Book Prize 2018.  He is Poet in Residence 2018/19  at the historic award winning  Trentham Gardens in Staffordshire

About In All Those Years At Medical School he said: "This poem was written as a reflection on the important lessons we learn during a medical career that perhaps change us both personally and professionally but aren’t part of the prescribed formal curriculum of medical schools. It struck me that over a fifty-year period in the medical profession the things that were most prominent and vivid in my memory would not be found in any medical textbook or lecture."

Carole Bromley

Carole Bromley lives in York. The wife of a retired GP, in addition to teaching she was for many years his out of hours receptionist. Carole has had winning and commended poems in the Hippocrates Prize before. She also has three collections with Smith/Doorstop and poems in many magazines and anthologies. www.carolebromleypoetry.co.uk 

Her commended poem, ‘Sodium 136’, was written while in Hull Royal Infirmary last February following pituitary surgery. It will be the title poem of a pamphlet about this experience which she is currently working on. Several poems from the proposed collection have already won prizes and/or been published in magazines

Denise Bundred 2019

Denise Bundred trained as a paediatrician in Cape Town and as a paediatric cardiologist in Liverpool. She is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. After retiring, she completed an MA in Creative Writing. She read with Rebecca Goss at the Manchester Literature Festival in 2013 and won the Hippocrates Prize in Poetry and Medicine (NHS) in 2016. She has poems published in Hippocrates Prize Anthologies (2012 - 2016), 'The Book of Love and Loss' (2014) and the Winchester Poetry Prize Anthology (2016). She also has poems in Envoi and Magma.

Note on Addressing a Foetal Heart: "Part of the work I did as a paediatric cardiologist was to scan babies before birth when there was a suspicion of a heart condition. In the poem Addressing a Foetal Heart I was thinking of the scans I performed on babies with narrowing of the aortic valve and how procedures can now be carried out while the baby is still in the womb, to prevent a more severe heart problem at birth." 

She added:"Panacea began as a villanelle about medicinal herbs. What resulted was something much darker and I had to bend a few rules in the structure to allow the narrative to develop.”

Elizabeth Davies Mar 2019

Elizabeth Davies is an academic public health doctor working at King's College London. She started publishing 'tales' from her medical training in 1999 and began writing poetry in 2004 during a Harkness Fellowship in the US. She has taken part in the Sydenham and Torbay Poetry Festivals, in Acumen and South Bank Poetry events, and presented at medical conferences on the potential role of poetry in palliative care. Elizabeth has contributed to PN Review, and published poems in Ithacalit, Synesthesia Literary Journal, South Bank Poetry and the Poetry Kit's Caught in the net series.   

About the inspiration for Memorial service for Dame Cicely Saunders she said: "I was lucky enough to work for a while at St Christopher's Hospice which was founded by Dame Cicely Saunders in Sydenham, South east London. Attending her memorial service at Westminster Abbey in 2006, I was struck by the vast body of people sitting in the nave who had become part of the palliative care movement she played a major role in creating. This poem attempts to portray some aspects of her leadership, local details of the hospice site, the culture of care she fostered, and its development into an international movement."

r Iora Dawes

Iora Dawes worked as a medical social worker in Salisbury and Mansfield hospitals. Later, she lectured in Health and Social Care in an FE college. She was commended in the Hippocrates NHS awards in 2013 and 2016, won 3rd prize in the FPM Hippocrates Health Professional awards in 2017 and commended in 2018.

She said that her inspiration for Returning was sharing the last hours of a close relative, dying in a busy ward.

r Rob Ferris

Rob Ferris is a Forensic Psychiatrist who grew up and was trained in South Australia before moving to the UK 30 years ago. He retired from a full time NHS Consultant post seven years ago and now works for the Mental Health Tribunal. He has worked over the years in a variety of secure Forensic Mental Health inpatient settings (high, medium and low), prisons, and the community, in both the UK and Australia. He has a longstanding interest in Psychiatric ethics. His interest in writing poetry dates back even further, to school days, but seems fortunately to have expanded over the last few years into the extra time and mental space provided by semi- retirement. He is about to move back to South Australia with his wife, there to live by the ocean and attempt to discover whether his surfing career (such as it was) is truly extinct or has simply been dormant for decades.

About Maximum Security One he said: ”The inspiration for the poem is a sort of cumulative meditation on the experience of working in a high secure psychiatric hospital treating mentally disordered patients with histories of extremely serious violent offending. This is always challenging for all involved – the cared for and the carers- and over the whole enterprise hangs the shadow of victimhood, both the victims of the perpetrator patients, and the childhood abuse and neglect the patients themselves have so often suffered. Also, the ongoing suffering of incarceration, even if tempered with hope of eventual recovery and release. The poem attempts to grapple with the psychological realities of this unavoidably dark subject.”    

bio hippocrates Gascho photo 2019 2

 Joseph Gascho is a cardiologist at the Pennsylvania State College of Medicine where he is Professor of Humanities and Medicine. He is a photographer as well as a poet, and is interested in combining image and word in his work. His photography and his poetry/image work have been displayed in various one-person exhibitions. He is author of a book of poetry, Cornfields, Cottonwoods, Seagulls and Sermons: Growing Up in Nebraska.

About the inspiration for Delivering Bad News he said: "Patients and their families are understandably stunned by a doctor’s words about a bad diagnosis. They sometimes comment about the manner in which the news is told, not realizing that the delivery of “bad news” is difficult for the physician as well, and that the delivery of this kind of news is not taken lightly." 

Ann Gray

Ann Gray has a Creative writing MA from the University of Plymouth. Her most recent collection was At The Gate (Headland, 2008). Her poems have been selected for the Forward Prize Anthology, commended for the National Poetry Competition, won the Ballymaloe poetry prize and shortlisted for the Forward prizes best single poem in 2015. 

Poet in residence at Cambridge University Botanic Gardens for the Thresholds University Museums Project, curated by the Poet Laureate in 2013, she is co-director of the Bodmin Moor Poetry Festival, now in its 7th year. Last year she was a winner of the Poetry Business pamphlet competition for I Wish I had more Mothers

She lives in Cornwall where she cares for people with dementia.

emma halliday image

Emma Halliday works as a health researcher in Lancashire, England.  She enjoys writing poetry and short stories, some of which have been published or placed in competitions. She is close to completing a Postgraduate Diploma in Creative Writing at York University undertaken part-time, and also embeds creative approaches in her professional role to engage public audiences with issues of health inequalities.

Her poem ‘The MOT’ was inspired by women’s stories of cervical screening, including her own. It aims to convey the somewhat dehumanising experience that such situations can evoke, using the metaphor of a car’s mechanical inspection.

r Rosie Holdsworth

Rosie Holdsworth is a third year medical student at Leicester. She said: "I came to medicine later in life, after studying radiography and working as a GP receptionist. When I'm not learning medicine, I post poems to my Twitter page (@rosieholdsworth) and enjoy nature photography."

About In Sickness she said: "I wrote the poem during my primary care clinical attachment. It's based on all the couples I met where one half became a full time carer for the other after the onset of dementia. It struck me that, as the dementia progressed, the person closest to the patient with the disease suffered the most. They watched as the person they loved faded away, and grew increasingly cruel towards them. Yet, they promised to love their partner in sickness and in health, and performed this selfless duty without question. Because of love, more powerful than any medicine."

Sara Johansson

Sara E M Johansson  (Photo by Mia Carlsson, Natur & Kultur),  Msc Psychology is a writer and expert in crisis support. She is a delegate and former technical advisor at the Swedish and International Red Cross. She specializes in support to families of critically ill children and in immediate crisis support to survivors and family members following large scale calamities such as natural disaster and terrorist attacks. Sara has a special interest in medical ethics, and how physical - emotional closeness between infants and their families can be promoted in highly specialized neonatal intensive care with patients weighing as little as 500 grams. She is a full time educator who teaches and supervises thousands of doctors, midwifes and nurses every year. Sara can be reached at: sara@creativemammals.se

About her poem It Will Only Feel Like a Bee Sting she said: "We have a strong tradition of telling our patients and their families how they should feel, rather than asking them how they feel and what they need. I wanted to illustrate this authority in medical care, with a touch of humour. Poetry can help us capture emotion and understand new perspectives in a way that facts alone can’t. I see art in all science.” 

melinda-kallasmae med

Melinda Kallasmae (Barclay), a perianaesthetic nurse, lives in central Victoria, Australia.

About Advance care directive she said: "In the operating room, we care for people when they may feel at their most vulnerable. Patients entrust to us their bodies, their lives, their confidences. Communities trust us.My poem, ‘Advance care directive’, was inspired by a recent conversation with an anaesthetist who understands care and community. Reflecting on that conversation, clinical practice, and poetry, I was reminded how we (patients, clinicians, poets) may struggle with meaning and articulation, and of how fundamental language is to caring:

how difficult
how critical
the words
the meaning
how important

 to get things right.”

r David Lanier

David Lanier is a retired family physician who lives in Chapel Hill, N.C.  A graduate of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, he completed his residency training at the University of Rochester (NY) and then practiced, taught and conducted research as an academic family physician at the University of California at Irvine and at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.  He later served as Director of the Center for Primary Care Research at the U.S. federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.  Dr. Lanier has an MFA degree in poetry from the Warren Wilson College Program for Writers and is the author of the collection Lost & Found, which was awarded the Robert Phillips Poetry Prize and published by the Texas Review Press. 

 Of the poem Impatience, he said:  "After my mother became debilitated and bedridden by a series of strokes, she gathered the family together one day to tell us that, while she had had a wonderful life, she did not want to go on living like this and hoped to die soon.  I saw the extent to which the quality of her life had irreversibly declined and, as a physician, could acknowledge the reasonableness of her wish.  As a loving son, however, I couldn’t bear the thought of her not wanting to be with us for as long as possible.  After she died, I tried for over a year to write about this as a way of working through my conflicted feelings.  It was not until I hit upon the form of the pantoum — in which each line of the poem, when repeated, takes on a subtly different and deeper meaning — that the poem began to come together."


Amelie Meltzer is a San Francisco native studying at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. She is an activist working to address racial bias in healthcare and promote the needs of queer and gender nonconforming patients. She writes poetry and nonfiction. Her writing appears or is forthcoming in Ploughshares, Stoneboat, RipRap, and Roanoke Review.

She said: “I wrote Vigil shortly after losing my uncle. Initially, my family’s experience of his illness was dominated by the medications and machines that we hoped would save his life. When it was clear he would not recover, the medical technology was withdrawn and we were able to gather at his bedside, tell stories, and remember his life.

So much of our focus in medicine is on preventing or delaying death, but in this instance I was able see it another way—as a moment of peacefulness, reflection, and fellowship. I wanted to capture that sentiment to carry with me as I continue my training.” 

J Richards 2019

Jonathan Richards worked as a general practitioner in Merthyr Tydfil for 35 years. I began to write poems as retirement approached. I continue to support the National Health Service as a Visiting Professor of Primary Care at the University of South Wales.

He said: "This poem Negotiating rapids was written while I studied for a Masters in Writing at the University of South Wales under the guiding hand of Professor Philip Gross. I was exploring ‘The River’ as a metaphor for doctor-patient interactions in the Consultation. ‘Negotiating Rapids’ is one of a series and everything in the poem was said to me by somebody at some time. Writing the poem brought back many faces and encounters.”

Karen Schofield

Karen Schofield said: "My career has been in the NHS as a clinical haematologist although I have now retired. This gives me time to write poetry which is often informed by my medical experiences. As well as being an active member of local Stanza groups and ‘Keele Poets at Silverdale Library’,  I’m also involved in several poetry projects at Keele University Medical School. I was shortlisted for the Hippocrates prize in 2016 and have had three previous commended places."

She said: "Junior Doctor Learning Log is inspired by the Liz Berry poem ‘Miss Berry’ about her time as a school teacher. It made me think of the long days and nights as a junior hospital doctor when the events described in the poem were only too real.”

Siddharth Warrier

Dr. Siddharth Warrier is 31 years old, born in Mumbai, India. He undertook his early medical education from Grant Medical College in Mumbai, and is currently doing a super-speciality course in DM Neurology from Sanjay Gandhi post-graduate institute in Lucknow.  He has been writing poetry and short stories since childhood, and when life took him into the world of hospitals and medicine, poetry followed him. He has performed in as well as hosted various art and poetry festivals in India, including the Kala Ghoda festival in Mumbai, Story Of Space festival in Goa and Lucknow Literature festival in Lucknow. 

About the inspiration for the poem  Limbic Love he said: "This is a poem that was written while I was studying for my MD Medicine final exam. The limbic system had always been a source of great frustration for me, given its complex anatomy and seemingly endless neural connections. Until one day, I finally understood what it did, and how important a role it plays in our everyday life. And it seemed fitting that everyone else must know of it too." 

Judith Wozniak

Judith Wozniak lives in Hampshire and spent her working life as a GP. She is currently in her second year as student on the MA course at the Poetry School in London. She has had poems published in Reach Poetry, Poetry24 and Ink Sweat &Tears.

She said: "Peggy and George was inspired by the elderly patients it was my privilege to look after. What I loved about being a GP was getting to know people over time and witness important milestones in their lives."

onion © Hippocrates initiative 2012: hippocrates.poetry@gmail.com