Yale UCL Medical and Engineering Students' Poetry Competition 2014

Yale-UCL Poetry competition announces winners for 2014

Sophie Constantinou

The winners of the Yale UCL Medical and Engineering Students’ Poetry Competition 2014 have been announced. Over 121 poems were submitted for judging this year, making it one of the largest number of entries the competition has received. First prize was jointly awarded to two UCL students – Emily Van Blankenstein (UCL Medicine) for her poem entitled ‘Morning’ and Nicholas Taylor (UCL Civil Engineering) for his poem entitled ‘Cliffs of Moher.’ Joint second prize was awarded to Hana Tsuruhara (UCL Medicine), Antonio Seccomandi (UCL Engineering) and Jacob Izenberg (Yale Medicine).

The judging took place by videoconference between staff at UCL and at Yale and this year included Professor John Martin(Co-Director of Yale UCL Collaboration (Biomedicine) and UCL Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine), Professor Timothy Mathews (UCL Professor of French and Comparative Criticism), Professor Thomas Duffy (Professor Emeritus and Professor of Medicine), Mr Marco Federighi (UCL Sub-Dean and Faculty Tutor in Engineering Sciences) and Professor Barry Zaret (Yale Professor Emeritus and Senior Research Scientist in Medicine and Professor of Diagnostic Radiology). It was the general observation of the judges that the standard of entries was the highest seen, with students more willing to expose themselves within their poetry.

The Yale UCL Students' Poetry Competition was launched in February 2011 by Professor John Martin using funds donated by a patient. The aim of the competition was to stimulate creativity and expression amongst students in both medical schools, and to find through the use of poetry the commonality of experience amongst medical students. Professor Martin, who has long been an advocate of the importance of the humanities as part of medical education, hoped the competition could help doctors to understand they have both a scientific and a human function in relation to their patients, as well as being able to cope with the personal pains associated with dealing with patients.

Over 450 poems have been submitted for judging over the course of the last five years of the competition, written on a huge range of topics and drawing inspiration both from classical and modern forms. Many who decide to enter the competition are not keen amateur poets; rather, they are students who have been stimulated for the first time by the competition to submit an original piece of work. It is the hope of the judging panel that a small volume of poetry containing the best poems from the competitions be published in the coming months.

Of her win, Van Blankenstein writes: “It’s easy to let medicine dominate your identity - it felt almost rebellious to submit something with no reference to hospitals, patients, scars. Having the chance to express the side of me the hospital doesn’t see was an unexpected joy.”

Read the winning poems here.