Stories of illness and love of life: shortlist for 2016 Hippocrates Young Poet award for poetry and medicine

Six young poets have been shortlisted and a further 5 young poets awarded honorable mentions in the £500 Hippocrates Young Poets Prize for Poetry and Medicine, one of the most valuable poetry awards in the world for young poets.

Back row from left: CVRT Patrons Leslie Morgan OBE, DL, Prize organisers Donald Singer and Michael Hulse,  and CVRT Patron Tony Ahearne.
Front from left: young poets at the awards –  Amy Wolstenholme and Norviewu Dzimega

2016 Hippocrates Young Poets Prize is supported by The Cardiovascular Research Trust, a healthy heart charity founded in 1996, which promotes research and education for the prevention and treatment of disorders of the heart and circulation. The charity has a particular interest in avoiding preventable heart disease through educating young people.

Competing for the £500 Young Poets award are Mia Nelson, from Denver, USA from love under the scalpel, Audrey Spensley, from Avon Lake, USA for 3 poems: Dissection, Requiem for a Surgery Scar and Variations on a Craniotomy, Catherine Wang from Hong Kong for Six pills and Amy Wolstenholme from Salisbury in England for words in the bone.

Honorable mentions have been awarded to Cara Nicholson from Oundle, England for An Unwanted Visitor, Alana McDermott from Oldham, England for Letters Upon The Sea, Ally Steinberg from New York City, USA for The Jacks, Norviewu Dzimegam from Orpington, England for I am and Naabil Khan from London, England for My Scars.

This year’s awards are being judged by poet Sian Hughes who will announce the winner at an Awards Ceremony in London on Friday 15th April.

Judge Siân Hughes said: “Reading a young writer’s work is always a huge responsibility.  Misunderstanding someone, missing the point, is such an unkind, unfriendly thing to do, especially to the young, and no one is more exposed than when they open themselves to the page.

“These young writers take on stories of illness, fear and loss, staring into some of the hardest words in the language with honesty and courage.  What struck me about all of these mentioned, was that they showed a love of words as well as a love of life.

“Those who tackled the subject of mental illness – self-harm, eating disorders, hallucination – took on a challenge as brave as those who grappled with the technical language of cancer treatments.  I was moved by words about the agonies of acne and the madness of first love as well as by stories of hospital corridors and waiting rooms.”

The international Hippocrates Prize for Young Poets is for an unpublished poem in English on a medical theme by poets aged 14 to 18 years from anywhere in the world. The 2016 Prize attracted entries from Canada, England, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Scotland, South Africa, Taiwan and the USA,

More on the 2016 Hippocrates Young Poets shortlist and honorable mentions.

Register for the Awards Ceremony from 3.30 pm – 6.30 pm on Friday 15th April, at the Medical Society of London,11 Chandos Street, London W1G 9EB.

Previous winners

–       2013 inaugural Hippocrates Young Poets Prize – Rosalind Jana from Hereford Sixth Form College in England, for Posterior Instrumented Fusion for Adolescent Scoliosis;

–       2014 Hippocrates Young Poets Prize Conor McKee, Sidney Sussex College Cambridge for I Will Not Cut for Stone;

–       2015 Hippocrates Young Poets Prize Parisa Thepmankorn from New Jersey, USA for Intraocular pressure

Notes for editors

For photos of finalists, biographies and extracts of their poems, call 07447 441666 or email

The Hippocrates Initiative – winner of the 2011 Times Higher Education Award for Innovation and Excellence in the Arts – is an interdisciplinary venture that investigates the relationship between medicine and poetry.

2016 Hippocrates Prize for Young Poets judge Siân Hughes

Siân Hughes’ first collection “The Missing” (Salt, 2009) was long listed for Guardian first book of the year, and won the Seamus Heaney prize for a first collection.  Her sequence of poems about her mother’s breast cancer won second prize in the first Hippocrates awards, and she and her mother Eleanor Cooke continue to write a shared book about this illness as treatments continue today.   In 1998 Siân set up the Young National Poetry Competition when she was working for The Poetry Society and she continues to promote young writers and to work with the National Academy of Gifted and Talented Youth to support the teaching of creative writing. Siân has been poet in residence in Youth and Community Centres, a Youth Theatre, a Health Centre, and a sandwich shop, and is and is currently poet in residence in a Birmingham school when she is not teaching part time for Oxford University.

Hippocrates Prize founders
Professor Donald Singer is a clinical pharmacologist. His interests include research on discovery of new therapies, and public understanding of drugs, health and disease. He co-authors Pocket Prescriber, the 8th edition of which will published by Taylor & Francis in the Summer of 2015.

Michael Hulse is a poet and translator of German literature, and is Professor of creative writing and comparative literature at the University of Warwick. He is also editor of The Warwick Review. His latest collection of poetry, Half Life, was chosen as a Book of the Year by John Kinsella.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s