Ellen Storm

Writing the White and Purple Coats

Toddler Taming

June 10, 2014
by Ellen

Toddler Taming, and the Archives of Disease in Childhood – Education and Practice

I wrote a letter recently in reply to an article in the Archives of Disease in Childhood (Education and Practice Edition -June 2014, Volume 99, Issue 3, p. 97) entitled What I have learnt from Toddler Taming: Help for parents and doctors! It seems that the editor has declined to publish it, which is not entirely surprising as it refers to the controversial issue of co-sleeping and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). There is no controversy amongst medical professionals: co-sleeping increases the risk of SIDS and is not recommended. That much is clear, and yet informed and intelligent parents continue to choose to co-sleep. I suggested bedside co-sleepers may offer a safe and viable compromise, and also believe that doctors should be informed of safe co-sleeping practices, in order to be able to best advise those mothers who do choose this route. More information on the research evidence surrounding this issue can be found here: UNICEF Baby Friendly: Bed Sharing and Infant Sleep.

I do feel a bit sad that the journal has declined to allow a debate on this subject and the related issues of compassionate/attachment parenting practices more generally. I would welcome any thoughts you may have however, so I am posting the letter below: Continue Reading →

June 3, 2014
by Ellen

Nonviolent Communication – Foundation Training

Last weekend I attended a two-day foundation training course in Nonviolent Communication (NVC) in Manchester, facilitated by Laura Harvey from Shared Space. I have been wanting to take this course for some time, and have had the book (Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, by Marshall B. Rosenberg PhD) for years. I have read and written a bit about its slimmer companion title, Raising Children Compassionately: Parenting the Nonviolent Communication Way, here.

I hoped signing up for the course would finally force me to read the book, and it has, so that was a result in itself. You didn’t need to have read the book to take the course though, which covered all the basics and gave lots of opportunity to practice too. Laura had considered all types of learners and her programme was well designed and delivered, with due consideration for participants’ differing needs. Continue Reading →

June 3, 2014
by Ellen

The Hippocrates Prize, Obesity and Empathy

Since my last post on the Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine, I have been invited to read my poem at the All Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing at Westminster in July. I understand that the subject of the meeting will be “the Care Bill and the contribution the arts can make to wellbeing and dignity in care, following on from the Francis Report”.

The focus will be on “how the arts can help to change the culture of care and to ensure that empathy and patients’ individual needs are at the heart of both the training of staff and delivery of care, particularly in the context of acute hospitals”. Robert Francis QC will be speaking and there is also going to be a presentation about the Guy’s and St Thomas’ and King’s College project using the arts in medical training that I will be very interested to hear.

Continue Reading →

Shaking hands with Robert Francis QC

May 13, 2014
by Ellen

First and Commended – Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine

Saturday 10th May 2014 was the 5th International Symposium on Poetry and Medicine, hosted by the Hippocrates Society. It was also the awards ceremony for the 2014 Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine, judged by poet Philip Gross, mumsnet.com editor Sarah Crown and barrister Robert Francis QC (who recently chaired the enquiry into Mid-Staffordshire Hospital).

My poem Out of Hospital Arrest was awarded the first prize in the NHS category, and my poem Walk (about dementia and the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)) was also commended in the NHS category. Continue Reading →

Poetry Workshop 1

September 1, 2013
by Ellen

Poetry Workshop, Kalikalos: Blackberrying

I mentioned in my previous post, about our stay at the Kalikalos Centre for Holistic Education in Greece, that I volunteered to hold a poetry writing workshop for our group, which included a wide age range and people with varying amounts of creative writing experience.

Poetry Workshop 2

Poetry Workshop in the Roundhouse

I decided to choose blackberrying as a theme, as some of our group had been involved in a walk into the mountains a few days earlier armed with buckets: we filled three, and later turned them into a huge blackberry and apple crumble! Continue Reading →


August 17, 2013
by Ellen

Kalikalos Centre for Holistic Education, Greece

Today is our first day back in England after a gloriously sunny two weeks staying at the Kalikalos centre for holistic education on the Pelion Peninsular in Greece. We took part in their annual family fortnight, facilitated by Dorota Owen and Julie Leoni.

View from the Garden

View from the Garden

The centre, run by Jock Millenson, is an intentional community and member of the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN). Kalikalos has its roots in the Findhorn Foundation in northern Scotland, with which both Jock and Dorota have a connection. Continue Reading →

Hippocrates Prize Anthology

May 21, 2013
by Ellen
1 Comment

4th International Symposium on Poetry and Medicine


On Saturday (18th May 2013) I attended the 4th International Symposium on Poetry and Medicine, organised by the Hippocrates Initiative, a collaborative medical humanities venture founded by Donald Singer and Michael Hulse from the University of Warwick.

My poem, Artificial Rupture of Membranes, received a commendation in the NHS category of the 2013 Hippocrates Prize for poetry on a medical subject. A fascinating day of talks and Q&A sessions preceded the announcement of the winners. A spot of networking and a glass of wine was then followed by a very nice dinner in good company. Continue Reading →

April 1, 2013
by Ellen

The Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine – Commendation

I am pleased to have been informed that my poem, Artificial Rupture of Membranes, has been commended in the 2013 Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine. My brief comment on this poem is listed on the competition website, here.

The awards will be announced by the judges, Jo Shapcott, Roger Highfield and Theodore Dalrymple at the 4th International Symposium on Poetry and Medicine at the Wellcome Collection in London on the 18th of May. Continue Reading →

The Reader

March 22, 2013
by Ellen

Poem in The Reader Magazine


I was happy to receive my complimentary copy of the spring edition of The Reader, containing my poem, Resuscitation.

The Reader is the magazine of The Reader Organisation, a dynamic Liverpool-based charity dedicated to reading in the community. They boast an impressive list of partners, including the NHS and the criminal justice system, various schools and community groups and charities working with the elderly. Get into Reading groups are the mainstay of their work, where trained facilitators lead groups in reading aloud and responding to poems or texts together.

This morning The Reader Organisation is busy tweeting about it’s 4th annual conference on Thursday 16th May 2013 at The British Library in London. As it states on their website, this will explore how their pioneering shared reading project, Get into Reading, addresses the need for social inclusion, meaningful activity, and better health in communities across the UK.

For more information about their work or the 2013 conference, or to buy or subscribe to The Reader, visit their website, here.


February 11, 2013
by Ellen

Sylvia Plath, Giftedness and Existential Depression

[N.B. Please note that this is a re-write of an article I first wrote in November 2012, that was partially lost when this site was hacked.]

It’s very hard to keep your spirits up. You’ve got to keep selling yourself a bill of goods, and some people are better at lying to themselves than others. If you face reality too much, it kills you. [Woody Allen]

Today is the 50th anniversary of the death of Sylvia Plath by suicide, and everyone is talking about her prodigious talent, her mental health, her two young children and her absent husband. Carol Ann Duffy has edited a new selection of her poems to mark the occasion, and wrote an article in the Guardian Review in November 2012 in which she described Plath’s language as manifesting her “tangible joy in the unflowering of her genius“.

It is possible that Plath experienced joy as a direct result of her intellectual abilities, but perhaps it was that very genius itself – not the snow or the loneliness or motherhood or marriage; not even the rejection – that was the reason for her suicide. Continue Reading →