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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness


Lisa Thomas Poetry Competition


The Lisa Thomas Poetry Prize
This is an annual prize open to anyone connected with mental health which will take place during the Spring each year with prizes being awarded at the Spring Biannual Meeting.  There are three prizes, 1st Prize £300, 2nd Prize £150 and 3rd Prize £50.

2014 Competition
We received 36 entries for the competition this year and as usual it was a challenge to pick out the winning entries. The judges were Dr Sean Lynch, Dr Charles Montgomery and James Gregory. Below are the winning entries:

1st Prize - Nuances

by David Cook

2nd Prize - Lost Boy

by Roxanne Parris


You'll learn something new about eloquence   
when the power fails you.
While speaking you feel doubtful
of the approaching preposition
and stumble.
As you strain to make a point
your words become sombre
and stay grounded.
You recover
but are discouraged
and swerve the final flourish
though it worked before.

There's a related problem
of nuances and scruples
which touches the self less closely.
For that reason
the jolt comes later.
It's the failure to hear as urgent
the recurring note of despair:
never starkly present
breaking against a self-concealing shame,
someone's parlyings with life
in the days before ending it.


How can I help you mend your broken mind?
The brain that tells a body to destroy itself
To fill its belly with strong cider
And its vessels with junk

What is your mind trying to escape?
Was the childhood we shared too normal?
Not normal enough?
Did our sibling squabbles scar you?

Around we watch, helpless
Deceived and deflated
Every £5 begged "for food"
Adds more poison
To the legal ration supplied daily

We mourn the bright mind
The uncle to my daughter
The son to our parents
The life that might have been

But your mind keeps on breaking
Your life keeps on breaking
And our hearts turn to stone

3rd Prize - Magnificat

by Andrew Robinson


There's a naked woman at the madhouse
cleaning the windows.  The window-cleaner
at the madhouse is a naked woman.
The naked woman window cleaner
is at the madhouse.  How the same thing said
differently's different!  Is she a patient?
Or a member of staff?  Inside or out?  Or
is she falsely, by delusional
or prankster patients, reported naked?
Or, is it a naturist madhouse, where
only the deranged, as a temporary
measure of therapy, are afforded clothes?
All these questions!  What's easy to miss is
that the windows get cleaned, whether to let
light in or the mad see out.  Or, might it not
be a woman at all, but a virgin?
Hello.  Don't be afraid.  Here's life's
work for you.  All the world will find it knows
you and what you do.  As sunshine through clear glass
comes, leaving the pane absolutely
untouched, so you will carry and bear
the word by which the world and all that is
makes sense of itself, becoming through you
entirely human.  Faced with this, no wonder
the girl finds it an altogether pure
and rational response (whether the world
finds her mad, or sane, is a silly
irrelevant question) to clean the windows.



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