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The Hippocrates Prize

The Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine was founded in 2009 by Professors Donald Singer and Michael Hulse. The founders aimed to unite national and international perspectives on three major themes: medicine as inspiration for poets, the impact of poetic creativity on the experience of illness, and poetry as therapy for patients, families, friends, and caregivers.

The Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine awards international prizes for unpublished poems in English. Prizes are given for poems written by health professionals or medical students; for poems written by anyone anywhere (the open category); and for poems by younger writers aged between fourteen and eighteen.

The annual international conference on poetry and medicine hosts the award ceremony. In 2011, the Hippocrates Initiative for Poetry and Medicine received the Times Higher Education Award for Excellence and Innovation in the Arts.

Some months ago I was informed that I was a prize winner in this year's competition, but not which prize. With the announcement I learnt that I was neither the bride nor the bridesmaid, but a flower girl. All the same I was utterly delighted. Alas, I couldn;t make the award ceremony as it was held at a Spanish university.

3rd Prize (joint): James Norcliffe (NZ) The Chest Clinic, Armagh St 

James Norcliffe is a New Zealand writer, currently living near Christchurch. He has published fiction, many fantasy novels for young people and poetry. 

 James has published eleven collections of poetry including Shadow Play 2013, Dark Days at the Oxygen Café (VUP) 2016, Deadpan (Otago University Press, 2019) and Letter to Oumuamua (Otago University Press, 2023).

Recent work has appeared in Landfall, The Asheville Poetry Review, Best Small Fictions 2023, Gargoyle, Rhino, Poetry Aotearoa Yearbook and Flash Fiction International. 

In 2022 he was awarded the NZ Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in poetry and the following year, the Margaret Mahy Medal for children's writing.

 Inspiration: As a young man, my father contracted TB. In the days before modern antibiotics, a very serious disease. He was hospitalised in a sanitarium high in the dry hills above Christchurch going in a skinny nine stone and reemerging two years later a 13 stone Michelin man, but cured. Some time later, a shadow was found on my mother's lung and she was monitored regularly through XRays at a chest clinic in the city. As my sister and I were considered at risk, we were regularly XRayed too, first at three month, later six month, intervals throughout my childhood. As the poem suggests, especially in the early days, it was a very apprehensive time for us all, but especially for my mother.

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