2018 Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine

My entry has been “Commended”

MY DAD WAS A DOCTOR

When he got poorly, I didn’t know he was dying.
My dad never ailed, he was nearly a giant.

I found him in a grey room. He was carved of wood,
sunken and hollow, lined in deep whorls.

He looked up and tried to smile,
but it was too hard.

An international Poetry competition with over 7000 entries from 61 countries.

MY DAD WAS A DOCTOR

When he got poorly, I didn’t know he was dying.
My dad never ailed, he was nearly a giant.

I found him in a grey room. He was carved of wood,
sunken and hollow, lined in deep whorls.

He looked up and tried to smile,
but it was too hard.

He’d sunk to the depths of the deepest ocean,
I could see it in his eyes: bottomless blue.

I sat next to him and our hands touched;
his cool and papery, the knuckles large.

Those hands that healed now shook,
hands that cured were fluttering wings.

We’d had silences before that said everything –
– this dying said nothing.

I looked for something true that goes on forever.
My eyes blurring the horizon where the beginning ends.

I never did get to tell you: I love you.

It sounded too much like goodbye.

Launch of ‘Poems for Grenfell Tower’

Poems for Grenfell Tower was published on 30 March 2018 by The Onslaught Press. The book includes well-known poets like George Szirtes, Michael Rosen, Medbh McGuckian, and Anne Stevenson. Others have links with the Grenfell community, such as the former head of the local nursery school, an Ethiopian exile who lost many of his neighbours in the disaster, a Big Issue seller who plays in the local steelband, and a firefighter who attended the inferno of 14 June 2017. Five of the 62 poets live elsewhere in Europe; four poems not in English have translations beside them.

The Foreword is by David Lammy, MP for Tottenham, and besides English the Dedication is shown in the 40 next most spoken languages of London. The cover features a photograph of the monthly Grenfell silent walk taken by Emily Clack Moulden of White City.

At the suggestion of Grenfell United all royalties will go to the new Grenfell Foundation. Depending on the sales outlet, that will amount to roughly half the cover price of £10. To maximize the money raised, the book will be sold mainly online, either from the publisher (with £3 added for p&p) or from Amazon, where Prime customers can buy it at the cover price. (NB please ignore the ‘Temporarily out of stock’ notice on Amazon, which results from print-on-demand. The book will always be available in a few days from its printer near Amazon.)

Two launches will take place in London: 14:30, Sunday April 15th, Harrow Club, 187 Freston Rd. W10 6TH, and 19:30, Friday April 27th, Seven Dials Club, 42 Earlham St, WC2H 9LA. Admission is free with a collection for the Grenfell Foundation.

After that, a series of Grenfell poetry fundraisers will be held across Britain, with other poets taking part alongside some from the book at Machynlleth, Oxford, Birmingham, Newport, Doncaster, Edinburgh, Newcastle and Manchester. More are being discussed for Bristol, Glasgow, Bradford, Liverpool, and additional London venues. For details see Events on the FaceBook page:

https://www.facebook.com/grenfellpoems/

For interviews etc. contact our press officer Tom McColl: <mccolltom@hotmail.com>

THE SEARCH

Circling days while ash falls,
another white face offers condolences,
you shake your head and want to stab them.

The traffic roars and pavements crack.
From habit, you reach out to lean on an arm
that isn’t there.

Scorched litter memories scatter and whirl,
the voice of a child never sleeps.
You excuse yourself, mind blurring, befuddled,

and barter with God, scrape the earth with
raw fingernails, a red-eyed animal howling.
They step back and give you a contact number.

Beda Higgins is an award winning writer who lives in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.