Writing to delight and instruct: the Hippocrates Book of the Heart

The Hippocrates Book of the Heart

edited by Wendy French, Michael Hulse and Donald Singer

ISBN 978-0-9935911-1-2

UK: £12  Ireland: €15  US: $18  CAN: $24  AUS: $24  NZ: $30

Publication: 21 September 2017

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This unique book, made possible by the generous support of the Cardiovascular Research Trust, brings together eighty contemporary poets of the English-speaking world and a dozen medical experts from around the globe to offer their perspectives on the heart. The book will be launched in 3 continents this Autumn with readings in Sydney (26th September), Aukland (28th September), Toronto (16th November) and London (6th December) 

Since ancient times, the heart has been understood as the seat of the emotions, of the will, even of the soul. Over time, a fuller medical understanding of the organ has gradually evolved too, with Harvey’s first complete account of the circulation of the blood and the heart’s role (1628) and Dr. Christiaan Barnard’s first successful heart transplant (1968) marking key moments in a history that has given us a much better understanding of our hearts – and how to ensure they stay healthy.

In compiling this book, the editors invited poets around the English-speaking world, both prominent and less well-known, to contribute poems about the heart, written from any perspective, whether clinical or fanciful, medical or metaphorical. Among the poets are Griffin Poetry Prize winners Roo Borson and David Harsent, Forward Prize winners Sean O’Brien, Hilary Menos and Nick Mackinnon, former New Zealand Poets Laureate Elizabeth Smither and C. K. Stead, former National Poet of Wales Gwyneth Lewis, and President of PEN International Jennifer Clement. They are joined by many other distinguished and rising poets, including Robert Gray, John Kinsella, Peter Goldsworthy, Stephen Edgar and Geoffrey Lehmann from Australia; Anna Jackson, Jenny Bornholdt and Chris Price from New Zealand; Grace Schulman, Rafael Campo, Matthew Thorburn, Debora Greger and Jeffrey Harrison from the US; Marilyn Bowering and Kenneth Sherman from Canada; Justin Quinn, Mary O’Donnell and John F. Deane from Ireland; and Jane Draycott, Philip Gross, Mimi Khalvati, Lawrence Sail and Penelope Shuttle from the UK.

Leading medical professionals whose practice and research has led them to a keen interest in the health of the heart contribute information and advice to the book. In clear, crisp mini-essays they illuminate the nature of heart disease, the key risk factors, the history of cardiac surgery, and the most important steps every one of us can take in trying to maintain a healthy heart. Our medical professionals, based in Russia, Finland, The Netherlands, France, the UK, Australia and Hong Kong, agree in their core message: maintaining a healthy heart is possible for every one of us, and is crucial to our overall health and well-being throughout our lives.

The result is that rare thing, a book that satisfies the Horatian dictum that writing should both delight and instruct.

The Hippocrates Book of the Heart is published by The Hippocrates Press. For more information about the Press and its publications, about Hippocrates Initiative for poetry and medicine and its annual international symposium on poetry and medicine, and about the Hippocrates Prize and the Hippocrates Society, please visit


Further inquiries and requests for interviews can be addressed to the editorial directors of the Press, Professor Michael Hulse (m.w.hulse@warwick.ac.uk) and Professor Donald Singer (hippocrates.poetry@googlemail.com).

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