2020 FPM-Hippocrates Open and Health Professional Awards - Biographies of Shortlisted Poets


CLARE BEST'S first full poetry collection, Excisions (Waterloo Press 2011), was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre Prize, 2012. Her multimedia project Breastless, now accessible in full on the Life Writing Projects website, University of Sussex, was inspired by experiences of family breast cancer. Other poetry publications include Treasure Ground (HappenStance 2010) and CELL (Frogmore Press 2015). Springlines, a collaboration with the painter Mary Anne Aytoun-Ellis, explores hidden and mysterious bodies of water across the South of England – work from this project has been exhibited at Glyndebourne (2015), at Tunbridge Wells Museum & Art Gallery (2017) and at St Barbe Art Gallery in Lymington (2018) and Springlines was published by Little Toller Books in 2017 to accompany the project. Clare’s prose memoir The Missing List, a finalist in the Mslexia Memoir Competition 2015, appeared in 2018 with Linen Press. Her latest book is a new poetry collection: Each Other (Waterloo Press 2019). Clare lived in Lewes for twenty years and co-founded Needlewriters – she now lives near the Suffolk coast where she is part of the festival team for Poetry in Aldeburgh. Presently she is working on opera and other vocal projects at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. clarebest.co.uk

She said: "The poem After your procedure was sparked by thinking about the language used in information leaflets for patients – the kind of thing we find in waiting rooms and online – and how such language tries to do a great deal with few words. Often there is a determination to provide facts, but also an effort to console and reassure. I’ve noticed that when I read them, gaping lacunae open up behind and around these frequently rather dry, practical texts. I wrote this poem as a kind of ‘call and response’ – inner thoughts responding to each phrase of the advisory text, and voicing the unspoken. As the piece developed, I came to see it as a conversation between two voices, around the almost unbearably painful space of a lost baby. The poem can be read across the broken lines and across the voices, or it can be read left side then right side. Ideally both. The notion of healing, such as it can be, relies on metaphor, and the poem moves towards this."

R  Oona Chantrell

OONA CHANTRELL  is a rarely published poet, with one or two poems placed in competitions including `Poetry London` and in anthologies such as `Live Canon`. She came late to poetry and now, in her `third age` has found the reading and writing of it to be her primary interest. Writing in East Greenwich, in South London, her work rarely engages with public issues, or the `life of her times`.  Rather, it reflects the interior preoccupations of one mind, ordinary and unique,  as with every mind.  She gains support from the writers of the Greenwich Poetry Workshop, which she has been a member of for about fifteen years.

She said: "The poem The Untouchable arose from one of those experiences which, sometimes unaccountably, remains very fresh in the memory despite the passage of time.  The poem seems to express the scattered perceptions and conflicting emotions of someone undergoing an event which  centrally concerns them but over which they have little control.  As the poem formed in my head and onto the page, I tried not to shape it too much, but to let it flow and express its confused imagery.”

IAN COLIN, a former instructor, divides his time between America and England where he studies poetry.  He is published in the U.K and in the U.S.A.  Currently, he is working on a collection of poetry.  In his spare time, he enjoys bicycling and skiing.

About Fighting the Minotaur he said: "Being a caregiver for my best friend and partner as he battled a stage 4 glioblastoma inspired this poem.  I never want to forget his strength, his joy, and his laughter. I hope that by sharing this memory, others will be helped."  

Author photo Lauren Fields(1)

LAUREN FIELDS is a third-year medical student at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. Poetry has been an important part of her journey to, and through, medical school. Her poems have been published in Blackberry: a magazine, Linden Avenue Literary Journal, WATER Literary and Arts Magazine, Reflexions Literary and Fine Arts Journal of CUIMC, and Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine. 

She said: "The inspiration for The Laying on of Hands in the OR stemmed from the hours I spent in the OR during my surgery rotation last spring. The spirit of reverence and focus intermingled with a sense of community and hope often brought to mind the same emotions one might find in a congregation. More so than usual, challenging cases necessitated a coming together of the team of surgeons, nurses, and anesthesiologists. In those moments, I couldn’t help but reflect on the significance of a patient’s trust in the team in the face of a life-altering procedure." 

Rosie Jackson books 2

ROSIE JACKSON is a poet and creative writing tutor who lives in Frome, Somerset. Her poetry collections to date are: What the Ground Holds (Poetry Salzburg, 2014), The Light Box (Cultured Llama, 2016), Two Girls and a Beehive: Poems about Stanley Spencer and Hilda Carline (co-written with Graham Burchell, Two Rivers Press, 2020). Rosie has a first-class degree from the University of Warwick, a D. Phil. from York, and has taught in many universities and educational settings, including the University of East Anglia, Nottingham Trent, Bristol UWE, Cortijo Romero. Her poems have appeared in Acumen, Ambit, Domestic Cherry, Frogmore Papers, High Window, Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry Salzburg Review, Scintilla, Tears in the Fence, The Interpreter’s House, journals and anthologies, set for GCSE, and used for a sculpture by Andrew Whittle in the grounds of a Dorchester hospital. She won the Poetry Space Competition 2019, Hedgehog Pamphlet competition 2019 (with Dawn Gorman), 1st prize Wells 2018, 2nd prize Torbay 2018, 1st prize Stanley Spencer Poetry Competition 2017, 3rd prize Hippocrates Open 2017, and other awards and commendations. Her books of prose include Fantasy: The Literature of Subversion; Frieda Lawrence; The Eye of the Buddha (fiction); Mothers Who Leave; The Glass Mother: A Memoir (Unthank Books, 2016).  www.rosiejackson.org.uk     

Rosie said: "It’s Time we Found a Different Metaphor evolved from two sources – firstly, writing workshops I led with cancer patients at Dorchester Hospital and for The Living Tree, a cancer support group in Bridport; secondly, from my dear friend Sophie Sabbage, who responded to a diagnosis of ‘terminal’ cancer by writing her remarkable best-selling book The Cancer Whisperer (Hodder, 2016), which includes heartfelt pleas to shift debates around treatments for cancer from traditional adversarial ones. Sophie gave voice to what I’d learned from other cancer patients about seeing their illness, any illness, as an opportunity (alongside the doing everything to get well), to deepen personal understanding and awakening. The poem went through various incarnations before it fell into its present relatively simple form of a villanelle: perhaps I was trying to counter the simplistic headlines found in tabloids around the ‘battle’ with cancer, certainly the repetitions try to convey the urgency of the message."     

Sarah James head & shoulders pic

SARAH JAMES is a poet, fiction writer, journalist and photographer. Her collections include plenty-fish (Nine Arches Press), shortlisted in the International Rubery Book Awards, and The Magnetic Diaries (Knives Forks and Spoons Press), highly commended in the Forward Prizes. Website: www.sarah-james.co.uk

About the inspiration for 
People Scare Me Because she said: "I was diagnosed with type one diabetes when I was six. Like most disabilities or 24-7 chronic conditions, the physical impact also comes with psychological effects. This is particularly the case, perhaps, as my diagnosis came at a young age, when the implications were too much to process without emotional maturity. For me, the psychological aspect has included depressions, generalised anxiety, a tendency towards emotional distancing, as well as some traits similar to ‘ (shy) avoidant personality’ or ‘Asperger’s’. I suspect from the outside, this may mean I sometimes come across as aloof or stand-offish when really I’m just awkward, scared or unsure how people would like me to react. These things aren’t just the inspiration for this particular poem. The need to connect, and not always feeling quite sure how or whet her I’ll manage it fuels a lot of my life and writing. Of course, mostly people are generous and lovely and warm. Over the years, I’ve learned to try and trust in that, not the fear in my head. (And I probably should stress that none of these particular psychological traits are an inherent part of the diabetes, simply my personal experience. Everyone copes and adapts in their own way).”

John Mills

JOHN MILLS, since retiring from teaching English in and around Stoke on Trent, has devoted more and more of his time to poetry. He is very active in the poetry scene, has been published in various online and print formats and is a prize winner. He recently finished an MA in Creative Writing at Keele university, which he passed with distinction.

About  A letter from Dr Parkinson’s discovery he said: "The inspiration for the poem was quite simple. I have Parkinson’s disease and I wanted people to understand there is a lot more to it than a shaking arm. In order to avoid a tedious litany of misery I decided to write it from the disease’s point of view, exploring its attitudes and motivations in particular the notion it might get pleasure from the damage it causes."


Patrick Toland is a Regional Co-Coordinator for the NHS at 70 Project (Manchester University and National Lottery) and the Programme Director for the Human Health Project in Northern Ireland. As a Lived Experience practitioner he has a keen interest in patient voice and therapeutic writing. He has been a poet in residence for the Mellon/Sawyer War and Commemoration Series at Oxford Brookes/Oxford and a First Story Bursary Winner at Cambridge. His short collection, Stockholm, was a winner of the Templar Poetry Award and he was also recently shortlisted for the National Poetry Award. 

About By Virtue of the Merits of her Son he said: "This short poem was inspired by a real event - my own mother, who lived with schizophrenia for most of her life, believed (at the exact same time my sister was pregnant) that she was essentially the Mother of God. The poem mixes together the feelings of mundane astonishment and then forced practicality that carers of those with acute mental health pressures will probably or hopefully recognize - especially the need to be extremely compassionate and loyal towards a loved one who is gripped within the reality/vagaries of their symptoms and, concurrently, to be able to step outside this for the sake of your own often fragile grip on well-being."

Judith-001 head & shoulders

Judith Wozniak spent her working life as a GP and recently completed an M.A. in Writing Poetry at the Poetry School. She has had poems published in; Reach Poetry, Sideways, Ink Sweat &Tears, The Poetry Shed, The Hippocrates Prize Anthology 2019 and the NHS Poetry Anthology, These are the Hands 2020.

About First do no Harm she said: "As a newly qualified doctor I soon realised how little I knew and how much I depended on the rest of the team. Emergencies are easier to manage in the safety of the hospital surrounded by skilled health professionals working together." 

About Second Opinion she added: "You never know quite what problems you will encounter in general practice especially on house calls. I worried about missing something at the end of a long day. It’s a relief to discover a problem causing distress that can be resolved.""

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