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


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.  For details of the 2016 poetry competition please refer to the Prizes page for further details.

2015 Competition
We received 25 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, Mrs Nicky Hayward and Abby Watts. Below are the winning entries:


1st Prize - Barrow

by David Whitwell


2nd Prize - Joie de Vivre

by Rosalind Bizley

The young doctor was amazed.
Did you really work at Barrow?
He looked at me, as though from another age,
and then we met a woman, brought in by the police,
and she knew me - you were at Barrow, she said.
And she smiled as though we'd shared something good,
even though on different sides.

I went back to Coombe Villa once
just for old time's sake,
trying to recall that far away feeling,
of a place apart.
But it was boarded up, the garden overgrown,
like a field coming right up to the windows,
and someone had scrawled across it,
Where have they all gone?
I meet them still, in town,
and I know they're freer now.
No-one keeps you in
a moment longer than required;
it's a human right.
They wouldn't go back for anything
to sitting there for weeks on end
waiting to be discharged.
But sometimes they tell me how much they miss it.
And I remember the slowness of it all,
we took such time.
It's a slow process, I used to say.
It was another age,
we did things differently then.


Beloved, joy will call to you in unexpected places;
In songs of birds, in scent of flowers, in tender, safe embraces;
And 'midst the waiting lists, and pills,
Torments of mind - invisible ills -
You glimpse the hope, you glimpse the light,
Of a world beyond, just out of sight:

A secret garden, door ajar,
Promise of springtime, follow the star,
Whispers of angels, wings of snow,
Trees so green, sun's golden glow,
Baby's lullaby, gentle breeze,
Cotton wool clouds and moonlit seas;

Glimpses of Heaven in the voice of a friend,
In the face of a loved one - love without end,
Waves of contentment, simple pleasures,
A bluebell haze and memory's treasures,
The night so still, moonbeam's caress,
The balm of forgiveness, hands that bless.

The path you tread is often steep, and long may seem the night,
But from the darkest hours of all will come dawn's gentle light;
Winter will pass and flowers will appear,
And softly will murmur Spring's dove;
Take heart, my beloved, my darling, my dear one,
Step into the realms of love.

3rd Prize - Things I am not - An Alpha Poem

by Craig Harris



I am not an animal, but often feel hunted.
I am not a baby, but face as uncertain a future as any new-born child.
I am not a criminal, but often feel lambasted by those that don't know me.
I am not a dam, but spend much of my time holding back a torrent of emotion or thought.
I am not an elephant, but my presence often feels like the aforementioned animal in the room.
I am not a foreign language, but have spent most of my life being misunderstood.
I am not a goldmine, but often suffer people trying to take advantage of me.
I am not a homeless person, but receive many a look of misunderstanding pity.
I am not an iceberg, but there is much more to me than first meets the eye.
I am not a joke, but often don't feel taken seriously.
I am not a knot, but often struggle to untangle myself.
I am not a lock, but can be hard to pick through.
I am not a mouse, but am at times as vulnerable as anything in this world.
I am not a novice, but often feel patronised by others.
I am not an object, but sometimes feel passed about without due care or attention.
I am not a prison, but can see the fear in the eyes of those on the outside.
I am not a question, but often necessitate a difficult answer.
I am not a rollercoaster, but have experienced many an up and down.
I am not a safe, but choose to keep some things hidden from those around me.
I am not a television, but people often try to mute me.
I am not an uprising, but sometimes feel oppressed.
I am not a veil, but sometimes feel the need to hide my true colours.
I am not a war, but divide attention amongst those that don't know the truth about me.
I am not a xylophone, but sure am difficult to work out properly.
I am not a yacht, but often feel fragile amidst the uncertain tides of life.
I am not a zoo, but sometimes represent a collection of unruly emotions seemingly held in captive against their will.
I am none of these things, for I am a mental health patient, a term that often defines me, although I wish it wasn't that way.
All I ask is that when we next meet, you spare a thought for these parts of me.
Your sincerely, a person, just like you.


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