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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 2017 poetry competition please refer to the Prizes page for further details.

2016 Competition
We received 19 entries for the competition this year and as usual it was a challenge to pick out the winning poems. The judges were Dr Paul Winterbottom, Dr David Whitwell and Tania Leigh. Below are the winning entries:


1st Prize - Just because we're different

by Chloe Sakal


2nd Prize - Self Harm

by Amy Garrod

It matters not that I’m insane
This tangled mess inside my brain
Open up and take away
Little bits of me day by day
Two forty volts I feel the pain
You want to rearrange me till I’m sane
You say I’m mad because I don’t comply
Just get off my back and let me fly
You strap me in this tight fitting jacket
And feed me drugs by the packet
You test me
Assess me
Question me
Day after day after day
Why don’t you leave me to my darkened space
To question who the mad ones are in this place

It’s been four years since I last tried to harm myself.
Four long years and the scars still shine.
Faded now, but still noticeable.
My warped teenage mind couldn’t deal with my feelings,
All those hormones.
I didn’t know where to put my pain,
So I drew it into my skin.

The blade: salvaged from a broken razor;
unscrewed from a sharpener;
Hidden inside a sock.
Reddened tissues concealed inside crisp packets.
An empty box of plasters.
Bracelets layered over stinging skin.
As I watched the blood run I promised myself this would make me feel better.
When Mum noticed the cuts I promised her I wouldn’t do it again.
When I did it again I promised that this would be the last time.
I’ve never breathed a word,
But the shining parallel lines betray me.
Maybe one day I will have the courage to speak up:
Answer honestly when someone says ‘what’s that?’.
Until then I will pull down my sleeve and brush it off.


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