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Sunday, 31 May 2015

The colour of cancer: poetry in pallliative care

Vikky Riley, Specialist Cancer Nurse and Wendy French, Poet in Residence at the Macmillan Cancer Centre, UCLH spoke on poetry in palliative care during the 6th International Symposium on Poetry and Medicine held in London on 22nd May 2015.  

View the talk by Wendy French and Vikky Riley


Vikky Riley spoke about her role in the Macmillan Cancer Centre which opened in 2013.
She discussed the idea behind a Macmillan Centre and talked about the medical side to the work and the different therapies that are open to patients and in some cases their carers. 

She also talked about the purpose of The Living Room at the Cancer Centre.

Wendy French spoke about her role at the Centre as a Poet in

The Macmillan Cancer Centre, UCLH
Residence and about the weekly group that is run there. She talked about the incidental work that goes on, in the lobby, in the lifts, and in the teenagers’ ward. Some of the patients’ work was read and their response to what the group meant for them discussed. There followed a debate as to whether this sort of work can enhance a person’s life emotionally or whether it is just a distraction from the routine work of living with cancer. 

Wendy French
Wendy French is currently Poet in Residence at the Macmillan Cancer Centre at University College Hospital, London. Wendy was head of the Maudsley and Bethlem Hospital School for fifteen years and now works with people with aphasia/dysphasia, helping them to recover their use of language through poetry. She also facilitates writing in other healthcare settings. She has won prizes in international competitions, including first prize in the NHS category of the Hippocrates Prize in 2010 and second prize in 2011. She co-authored Born in the NHS with poet Jane Kirwan, published by the Hippocrates Press in 2013. More about Wendy French.

Stanley Kunitz said ‘Our job at any given stage of life, is to create a self we can bear to live and die with.’

The Symposium was held to mark the announcement of the winners of the 2015 Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine.

The Hippocrates Prize is an annual award with a closing date of 31st January 2016 for the 2016 Hippocrates Prize. 

See more about entering for the 2016 Hippocrates Prize.

With a 1st prize of £5000 for the winning poem in the Open International category of

£5,000, £5000 for the 1st Prize in the NHS category, and £500 for the Young Poets Award the Hippocrates Prize is one of the highest value poetry awards in the world for a single poem. In its first 5 years, the Hippocrates Prize has attracted over 6000 entries from 61 countries, from the Americas to Fiji and Finland to Australasia.

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