Poetry and healing: the 2017 Hippocrates Young Poets Prize

Poets from England, Singapore and the USA were finalists for the Prize for Young Poets aged 14 – 18 in this year’s international Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine.

Erin 3
Young Poet winner Erin O’Malley

The winner of the £500 Young Poet Award – announced at a ceremony at Harvard in Boston at the weekend – was Erin O’Malley, from Pennsylvania, USA.

Runners-up in the Young Poet Award were from the UK Roberta Maia Sher, London and Izzy Wythe, Oundle; from the USA, Rachel Litchman, Michigan and Joyce Zhou, Illinois;  and from Singapore Vernon Yian.

Order the 2017 Hippocrates Prize Anthology of  winning and commended poems

The Young Poet award is supported by healthy heart charity the Cardiovascular Research Trust, which has a particular interest in promoting heart health among young people throughout the world.

About her winning poem, Erin said: “Alzheimer’s Disease, A Proof By Exhaustion explores the way illness can destroy things that exist outside the body. At first, my grandfather’s symptoms of forgetfulness didn’t seem to have the immediacy of other bodily ailments; we often don’t think of memory as an important aspect of our identity.”

She added: “But when my grandfather lost the ability to recognize certain people in my family, it created a kind of distance between who he used to be and who is now, and I wanted to write something about that distance.”

Erin O’Malley is  studying in Germany as a Speedwell Scholar. She is the co-founder of Sooth Swarm Journal and her work been recognized by Hollins University, Columbia College Chicago, the National Young Arts Foundation, the National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.

Young Poets judge, New Yorker Maya Catherine Popa, said: “It is wonderful that a prize with this kind of international visibility aims to encourage young writers from around the globe. As a teacher of this age group, I am often amazed at the creativity, insight, and skill of young writers. I wish more prizes aimed to showcase and support these voices.”

Notes for editors

For more on the shortlisted poets and the 2017 Hippocrates Awards,contact +44 7494 450 805 or email hippocrates.poetry@gmail.com

Hippocrates Poetry website

More on support for the 2017 Hippocrates Awards for Poetry and Medicine


The 2017 Hippocrates Young Poets Prize is supported by the Healthy Heart Charity the Cardiovascular Research Trust, founded in 1996, which promotes research and education for the prevention and treatment of disorders of the heart and circulation

Judge Maya Popa at Harvard Awards with Donald Singer, Cardiovascular Research Trust chair

The Hippocrates Initiative for Poetry and Medicine – winner of the 2011 Times Higher Education Award for Innovation and Excellence in the Arts – is an interdisciplinary venture that investigates the synergy between medicine, the arts and health.

2017 Hippocrates Young Poets judge

Maya Catherine Popa is a writer and teacher in NYC. A 2015 Ruth Lilly finalist, she is the recipient of the Poetry Foundation Editor’s Prize for review. Her poetry appears in Tin House, Kenyon Review, Poetry London, and elsewhere. Her criticism and non-fiction appear widely, including in Poetry, Poets & Writers Magazine, PN Review, and The Huffington Post. Her chapbook, “The Bees Have Been Canceled,” is forthcoming from DIAGRAM New Michigan Press in the U.S., and Southword Editions in Ireland, in winter 2017.

Her awards include the Hippocrates Poetry Prize, 2nd place in the Magma Poetry Prize, 3rd Place in the Narrative N30B Prize, the Gregory O’Donoghue Competition, Parallel Universe Competition, and the Oxford Poetry Society Martin Starkie Prize. She holds an MFA from NYU and an Mst in Writing from Oxford University, where she was a Clarendon Scholar. She teaches at the Nightingale-Bamford school in New York City.