Results of the 2023 Greg Judkins Poetry Competition

3 August 2023

Category: College and members


This year the theme of Greg Judkins competition in reflective poetry was Connecting: hauora, courage and togetherness. Registrars and Fellows of RNZCGP submitted their original poems up to 25 lines in length, and haiku consisting of three lines and 17 syllables. The winners were announced and read out during GP23: the Conference for General Practice. The awards included cash prizes of $200 and copies of Biopsies and Shrapnel by Dr Greg Judkins.

Biopsies - a collection of short stories by Dr Greg Judkins
Shrapnel - a book of poems by Dr Greg Judkins

Here are the winning poems:


Erin Turner


Her smiling eyes spoke
above the impassive wall
鈥淣au mai haere mai鈥


Rebecca Velluppillai

Behind Closed Doors

A wise man once said
Courage is to feel fear
And jump in anyway

That day
You extracted your heart
And held it open-palmed

We turned it over
Examined old scars
Tender hollows
Bleeding torrents
Shameful, hidden caves

When you could no longer
Hold this heavy heart alone
We bore the weight together

Much to your surprise
We found well-functioning gates
Watched its strong, synchronised dance
Listened to the eternal pulsating drum
That had been calling, all along

Having carefully tucked it back in your chest
Your hand rested on the door handle
A tear squeezed out uninvited. 鈥淭hanks doc鈥

Later that day I borrowed your bravery
To extract my own heart
Behind closed doors

A special recognition

The three judges: Dr Greg Judkins, Dr Himali McInnes and Ruth Arnison evaluated the submissions and wanted to acknowledge one more poem. Though it didn't receive a prize, it was considered stunning and deserving a special mention. For this reason, it is published alongside the winning poems:


Leslie Peter Harding


Harshan regrets coming in to see me today
Just another doctor who doesn't get it at all
Explaining to him like he is a child that viruses
And bacteria require different treatment.
Harshan has thousands of English words
And I have 2 in Singhalese, yet he is the one
Lumped with the sense he isn't bringing
As much to the communication table as I am.

Harshan, have you found a good place to get
A decent plate of kothu in Auckland?

Apparently Dominion road has a great spot
The cheese isn't quite right and they never
Quite believe him when he asks for more spice.
We chuckle over the idea that this is the
Opposite of my usual problem with the dish.

Harshan tells me how his mother makes it
I tell him kothu would go great with roast kumara.
He gets up to leave his coryza now forgotten.

The singhalese word for thank you is: stutiyi
My memory swirls trying to remember the subtle
Fight between tone and timbre the word demands
I give it my best shot as he leaves the room
He slowly shakes his head at the pronunciation
But he's proper smiling now and that's pretty cool
More than that, it's a connection.

The winning poems have also been published by . Congratulations to the winners!