UCL News


Medical Poetics: call for entries for Yale-UCL Medicine poetry competition

16 April 2014

This year's Yale-UCL poetry competition is now open for entries from medical students looking to render their Aesculapian experiences in verse… and win £1000.


The upcoming deadline is Saturday, 10 May 2014 and the winner(s) will be announced at the end of July.

The competition is a collaboration between Yale University School of Medicine and UCL Medical School. Established in 2011 by Professor John Martin (UCL Medicine), co-director of the Yale-UCL Collaborative and a published poet himself, it aims to "stimulate creativity and expression amongst students, and to find through the use of poetry the commonality of experience amongst medical students."

Speaking in a recent interview on BBC Radio 4 Today, Professor Martin said that he wanted to combat the intellectually "brutalising" experience of medical training by encouraging students to engage with poetry. He shared concerns with colleagues that trainee doctors were narrowing their focus to ever smaller events in the body and its cells, saying: "I thought they were losing the ability to think abstractly."

Entries will be judged by a panel of scientific and literary academics at Yale and UCL including Professor Martin and the runners up will be awarded £500.

The last three competitions have been won by Yale students with UCL's Daphne Tan and Gabrielle Gascoigne taking joint first place in 2011.

Gabrielle Gasoigne's winning poem:

'Mastectomy - for his wife'

it will be an honour
to bathe the scars.
don't think my tears imply
an ounce of sorrow -
only joy
could fill my eyes.

it will be a pleasure
to hold you close.
know this - your precious flesh
calls the bluff on gold
and silver -
makes me a king.

it will be a delight
to talk with you
into the night we thought
stolen, clean away -
until day
renews our hope.

It would be too heartless
if all this love,
these sinner's prayers and more
should fall to nothing
more than rain
on empty streets.