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Rosalind Jana wins the inaugural Hippocrates Young Poet Prize, sponsored by NAWE
Wed 19 Jun 2013
We're delighted to announce Rosalind as winner of this prize for her remarkable poem, "Posterior Instrumented Fusion for Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis".
Rosalind Jana is a sixth form student and part-time freelance journalist. She won the Vogue Talent Contest for young writers in 2011 at age sixteen and has subsequently written for Vogue several times. She regularly contributes to Lionheart Magazine, Oxfam and fashion initiative All Walks Beyond the Catwalk. She has a conditional offer to read English Literature at Oxford. Further information can be found at

Rosalind writes:

"At the age of fifteen I underwent an operation to fix my extraordinarily twisted spine. I had been diagnosed with scoliosis six months previously when my degree of curvature stood at 56 degrees. By the time I was offered surgery this had progressed to nearly 80 degrees. My backbone had compressed into the shape of a lopsided 'S', my right shoulder blade sticking out like a small wing and rib-cage barrelled to the left. I wheezed when I walked. Sharp aches and jabs of pain were expected. The surgical solution was to cut into my back, place titanium rods on either side of the vertebrae and screw them in place. This would manually straighten my spine and it would fuse solid over the next few months.

"Recovery was physically, emotionally and psychologically challenging. All that remains now is my scar. I am fascinated with its visual resonance, the way in which those complicated months full of agony and debilitation could have been reduced to a single, fading line of flesh. The poem was an attempt to express the strange disconnect between the skin I can see, and the muscle and bone lying beneath that my surgeon and his assistants worked with for five hours. I wanted to show how extraordinary a process it is and how intricate, messy and beautiful the body can be.

"I have been writing poetry for a while, but always felt more capable when working in prose. Thus winning the Hippocrates prize for young poets was incredibly special, as it provided the perfect shot of confidence. It was a pleasure to have to chance to read my poem aloud and to hear some of Clare's comments on the language and structure, while the prize itself has certainly galvanised me to think about writing more. I now want to experiment further with form and theme. The winning poem was also on a subject very personal and formative to me. To condense it down into twenty lines, written during a week of nights hunched over a notebook as I counted out the rhythm and scribbled the rhymes, was satisfying - but to find out that it had won was exhilarating."

Thge Hippocrates Initiative for Poetry and Medicine was introduced in 2009. Details of the recent symposium, prize winners, and next year's competition can be found here.

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