Poems for doctors

Online Poetry Slam

Entries for the Poems for Doctors online poetry slam are now closed.

Poems for doctors is a collaboration between Scottish Poetry Library and the School of Medicine at the University of St Andrews.  The project developed out of Tools of the Trade: Poems for new doctors, a small anthology of poems published by Scottish Poetry Library and gifted to graduating doctors. Poems for Doctors builds on the book, using this blog to publish short seasons of readings of some of these poems by medical professionals or students. More about this…


What is the Online Poetry Slam?

The Poems for doctors Online Poetry Slam is a competition in which poets enter a recorded reading of one of their poems by putting it on Youtube, Vimeo, or (as audio only) on Soundcloud. Entries must be made by the author of the poem, although authors may have someone else read their poem for them, as long as this is clearly stated in the entry.

From all the entries we will shortlist 10 poems for the final slam, and these will be shared online allowing everyone to vote for the poem they think is the best. The final competition winner will be decided by combining the audience votes for shortlisted finalists with judges scores.

What are the prizes?

Kudos! – Of course, but as well as that there is a first prize of £250, and a runner-up prize is £100. In addition there will be bundles of poetry goodies from the Scottish Poetry Library for both winner and runner-up.

What is the topic?

The topic is experiences of human healthcare, medical research, or medical education. This could include experience as a patient or a relative, or as a medical professional, or as a medical student.

Who can enter?

Entries will be accepted from any staff or students currently working or studying at any of the Scottish Medical Schools. Organisers will check authors’ IDs back with the relevant Medical School when poems are shortlisted. 

Do I have to be a doctor, or studying to become a doctor?

No. You can enter as long as you are a member of staff from one of the Scottish medical schools, or a student at one, or a former student. As long as your poem is about the topic, and you wrote it. Except…

You can’t enter if…

You are a member of staff at the University of St Andrews or at the Scottish Poetry Library who is involved in organising ‘Poems for Doctors’.

What languages?

Poems may be entered in English, Scots, or Gaelic.

How long?

Readings must be under three minutes long.

How many entries can you make?

We can only accept one submission per author.

Closing date and entry form

The closing date for submissions is January 31st 2019.

Shortlisted poems will be shown on this website early in 2019, online voting on shortlisted poems will then remain open until the end of March 2019, and details of the winner will be published in April 2019.

The entry form is at the foot of this page.  We’re looking forward to hearing from you!

Poster and slide

If you’d like to put up a poster or send one to a friend, that’s great and thank-you! Here’s a pdf:

If you’d like to say something about the Slam in a talk you’re giving, that’s also great, and thank-you! Here’s a Powerpoint slide:

original microphone image © clipartxtras.com
montage by steve smart


We are delighted to confirm that Martin MacIntyre, an award winning poet and author who writes in both English and Gaelic will be on the panel. Martin also wrote the poem ‘Tools of the Trade‘ from which the ‘Poems for doctors’ anthology takes its name. Martin is an out-of-hours GP.

Our second judge is Andy Jackson.  Andy, who works at  Dundee University as Medical Librarian, is a writer who is also responsible for a number of poetry projects including the Split Screen & Double Bill poetry shows, Scotia Extremis, New Boots And Pantisocracies, and also the Otwituaries blog.

Our third judge is Clare Crossman.  Clare delivers poetry workshops as part of continuing education programs. She has had four collections published by Shoestring. She has also worked in theatre, has an MA in Theatre Studies, and writes “My experience in the theatre has given me a way to facilitate the writing and performance of poetry in many different contexts, to interpret other subjects within education and to write for its own sake. “

Entry form


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