We are very proud to announce that Rafael Campo (Poetry 1991), a professor at Harvard Medical School, Beth Israel Deaconess, and Lesley University, has won the Hippocrates Open International Prize for Poetry and Medicine. The prize has been awarded in the United Kingdom since 2009 and has quickly become one of the most important international prizes for poetry, as well as a unique place for poetry and medicine to meet.
On his first prize winning poem, Campo says, “‘Morbidity and mortality rounds’ was conceived some years ago, after I visited a patient of mine in the hospital who was dying of hepatocellular carcinoma and awaiting transfer to a hospice facility. To my astonishment, he asked my forgiveness for not responding to the treatment, and for causing me so much trouble. I have long been haunted by the irony of his words, as I had felt so acutely throughout the course of his illness the limitations of the biomedical model and my own personal helplessness, and thus held myself responsible for his death, but didn’t know how I could express my own wish to be forgiven.
“…My head spun with all my conflicting feelings, which finally took shape in the poem’s repetitions, and also became reflected in the poem’s title; though in the end I didn’t attend the M&M conference, I felt that through the poem I was able to address what for me were the most important lessons he taught me, especially the power of empathy to combat the distancing we almost reflexively adopt toward our patients, and the necessity of confronting our own shortcomings.”
Rafael Campo (Poetry 1991), M.A., M.D., D. Litt.(Hon.), is a poet and essayist who teaches and practices general internal medicine at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. He is also on the faculty of Lesley University’s Creative Writing MFA Program. He is the recipient of many honors and awards, including a Guggenheim fellowship, a National Poetry Series award, and a Lambda Literary Award for his poetry. His most recent book, The Enemy (Duke University Press, 2007), won the Sheila Motton Book Award from the New England Poetry Club, one of America’s oldest poetry organizations.
Photo ©Hippocrates Prize