Hippocrates Award for Kathy D’Arcy

Poetry PhD candidate – and qualified doctor – Kathy D’Arcy has won first prize in the health professional section of the international Hippocrates Awards for Poetry and Medicine 2017 – http://hippocrates-poetry.org  – which were announced at an award ceremony in Harvard at the weekend.

The judges were Pulitzer Prize winning poet  Jorie Graham, paediatrician and ER producer Neal Baer, Scotland’s Makar (National Poet) Jackie Kay, New York poet Maya Catherine Popa, and New York poet and psychiatrist Owen Lewis.

The Hippocrates Prize attracts both health professionals and established poets from around the world – with a strong emphasis on highly accessible poetry that comes from direct personal experience.

Kathy’s poem “Inside” explores the relationship with the human heart.   Speaking about the poem, Kathy said it was partly inspired by her medical internship. “I loved looking at cardiac imaging, watching bright air bubbles fizzing inside ventricles during bubble echoes, discovering that the chordae tendineae  (the ‘heartstrings’) looked like harp-strings that you could play. I wondered if I could only truly connect with others by opening their ribcages and reaching inside to hold their hearts. I wondered what it would feel like to live inside someone’s heart. This organ – not the romantic cypher, but the self-governing, muscular bag of blood that da Vinci says ‘does not stop unless forever’ – is a source of endless fascination for me.”

“These poems show us everything we have in common,’” said adjudicator Jackie Kay. “They help us with grief and grieving. But above all they make us cherish life, our health, our minutes and our hours. I’d keep these poems about me as my companions.”

With a prize fund of £6000 for winning and commended poems, the Hippocrates Prize is one of the highest value poetry awards in the world for a single poem. In its eight years, the prize has attracted over 8000 entries from 60 countries.