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

Find out about book launches in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the UK



The Hippocrates Book of the Heart is also available as an eBook.



February 7, 2018 Thomas Ovans' review in of The Hippocrates Book of the Heart 

"Thomas Ovans discovers that poetry and medicine can mix rather well in this handsome anthology from the Hippocrates Press

"This substantial volume contains about one hundred poems on the subject of the heart – a theme that is interpreted quite broadly as we shall illustrate below. It also includes ten short essays, written by medical professionals, which focus on promoting public understanding of heart health. The frequency with which the word “exercise” appears in these essays might lead one to conclude that one of their central messages is “don’t sit around reading/writing poetry: get out and do some running!” But it would be wrong to draw such glib conclusions about the medical profession’s hostility to literature because a respectable percentage of the poems have been written by doctors. And it need not be thought that these are “token” pieces included among more significant work by full-time poets: the three editors (Wendy French, Michael Hulse and Donald Singer) have set a very high standard in their selection of material; and they have, furthermore, taken great care over the way the poems are ordered so as to complement one another.

I can of course only discuss a sample of the many poems on offer. Broadly speaking, they fall under three headings: those which address the biology of the heart directly; those which regard the heart as the seat of the emotions – especially love; and those which spiral off into all sorts of unexpected and sometimes tenuous cardiac associations.”

See more … 


This unique book, made possible by the generous support of the Cardiovascular Research Trustbrings 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.

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.


Heart book launches

Toronto, Canada: Thursday 16 November 7-9 pm

Makom, 402 College Street, Toronto M5T 1S8

Readers and panel discussants:Ronna Bloom, Roo Borson, Ron Charach, Alisha Kaplan, Kim Maltman, Kenneth Sherman and Donald Singer


Australia: 17.30 Tuesday 26 September

University of New South Wales
G14, ground floor, Wallace Wurth Faculty of Medicine,
18 High St, Kensington, NSW 2052

Email for information

Readings by Andrew Dimitri, Stephen Edgar, Geoffrey Lehmann and Michael Hulse


New Zealand: 17.00 Thursday 28 September

University of Auckland, 
Common Room, 5th floor, Arts One, Symonds Street, Auckland

Readings by Elizabeth Smither and Michael Hulse


London: 18.00 Wednesday 6 December

Medical Society of London
11 Chandos St, London W1G 9EB (5 min from Oxford Circus tube)

Email for information


Cheltenham: 18.00 Saturfday 16th June 2018

Cheltenham at Chapel Arts


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