Judge for the 2020 Hippocrates Young Poets Prize for Poetry and Medicine

The 2020 Young Poets Award will be judged by Lawrence Sail.

Lawrence Sail is a freelance writer and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.  In addition to thirteen books of poems, he has published two books of essays and a memoir of childhood, Sift (Impress Books 2010).  He has also edited a number of anthologies, including First and Always (Faber 1988), which raised more than £65,000 for the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children.  He has been chairman of the Arvon Foundation and director of the Cheltenham Festival of Literature.

LS Photo 1 2020

Waking Dreams: New & selected Poems (Bloodaxe Books 2010) was a Poetry Book Society Special Commendation.  His most recent collections of poems, also from Bloodaxe, are The Quick (2015) and, published in February this year, Guises.

About the 2020 Hippocrates Young Poets Prize entries, judge Lawrence Sail said:

"The six poems on the shortlist all remind me in one way or another of the assertion that 'poetry is not what you read, but what you re-read’.  

It is hard to imagine a zone more fraught for the writer than one in which the vivid and often raw world of medical experience meets the artistic quest for shape and meaning.  It's all the more impressive, then, that so many of the 97 entries for the 2020 Hippocrates Young Poets' Prize succeed to the extent that they do, with a directness and energy that owe much to the age range of the writers, from 14 to 18.

The poems encompass a considerable variety of subjects, including anorexia, dementia, surgery and depression.  While some are very much first person accounts of hospital experience or medical treatment, others focus on friends or family.  Others grapple with the immediacy of illness or suffering.

As to the structure of the poems, great variety was in evidence here too.  There were three sonnets among the entries, and fourteen poems that deployed full end-rhyme (while not always avoiding the too easy closure and sense of comfort that rhyme can sometimes suggest).  Others were formally much looser: of these, some could have benefited from greater editing."


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