Cambridge student wins major international poetry and medicine award 

At an Awards Ceremony at the Royal Society of Medicine in London, Conor McKee from Tonbridge has been awarded the inaugural 2014 International Hippocrates Young Poets £500 Prize. 18 year old Conor studies English literature at Sidney Sussex College at the University of Cambridge in England. 

This new International Hippocrates Prize for Young Poets is for an unpublished poem in English on a medical theme by poets aged 14 to 18 years. The 2014 Prize attracted entries from England, Ireland, and Scotland, Israel, Italy, Nigeria, South Africa and the USA. It is one of the most valuable poetry awards in the world for young poets.

Commenting on the inspiration behind his poemI Will Not Cut for Stone, Conor said: “ this poem expresses my own fears about the life of a surgeon and my interest in understanding the mechanics of the human body.”

All winning and commended poems have been published in the 2014 Hippocrates Awards Anthology.

The Hippocrates International Young Poet Award and three Young Poet Commendations were presented by poet Philip Gross at an International Symposium on Poetry and Medicine at the Royal Society of Medicine in London on Saturday May 10th.

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Conor McKee with Philip Gross ©Hippocrates Prize

This year’s poems were judged by adult and children’s author, and winner of the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, Kit Wright.

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2014 Hippocrates Young Poet judge Kit Wright

Kit said of the entered poems: ‘It was a remarkable experience to judge these poems, highly various in their approaches, both stylistically and in their choice of subject. The world of medicine is an extraordinarily rich one for the writer, and these young poets have produced some extraordinarily assured and compelling responses to it.’

Donald Singer, Hippocrates Prize co-founder and President of the Fellowship of Postgraduate Medicine, the major patron of the Hippocrates Initiative said "The FPM is delighted with the success and international reach of this second year of the Hippocrates Young Poets Award. 

Hippocrates Prize co-founder poet Michael Hulse added: “We are delighted that the Hippocrates Prize for Young Poets is having a growing international impact in inspiring a new generation of poets.”

Of the inspiration for his poem Nothing Happened, commended Young Poet Joseph Davison-Duddles remarked: ‘My poem seeks to place silences and utterances in a narrative of childhood and illness’.

Joseph is sixteen and studies at Queen Elizabeth College in Darlington. In 2013 he received both a Foyle Young Poets commendation and Young People First Place in the Ledbury Poetry Competition.

Commended Young Poet Molly Garbutt said of her poem, Cadaver: ‘It stemmed from discussion with my Biology teacher about medical school, and dissecting cadavers, and from my love of writing about the supernatural.’

Molly studies at Hereford Sixth Form College and hopes to study Veterinary Medicine. She has been shortlisted for several poetry awards, including the COMPAS Schools Prize for Poetry.

Commended Young Poet poet Talin Tahajian is at school in Massachusetts in the USA. Her poem ‘Dream …’  was inspired by her grandfather’s experience of lymphoma.

Her poetry is published by PANK, Hobart and The Adroit Journal. In the autumn she plans to attend Sidney Sussex College at the University of Cambridge where she will study English. 

Notes to editors

For photos of all Young Poet finalists, biographies and extracts of their poems, contact 0759 0478078, 07447 441666 or

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 -

About the Hippocrates Young Poet Winner

Conor McKee comes from Kent and studies English literature at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. Poetry has been a significant force in his life since childhood when his parents frequently read to him. He was first encouraged to write poetry at the school creative writing society. In 2012 he won the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award and was subsequently commended in 2013. He also gained second prize in the Young Persons section of the Ledbury Poetry Competition in 2012. His critical interests are focused on late medieval and modernist verse.

Hippocrates Young Poet judge

Kit Wright is the author of more than twenty-five books, for both adults and children, and the winner of awards including an Arts Council Writers' Award, the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, the Hawthornden Prize, the Alice Hunt Bartlett Award and (jointly) the Heinemann Award. After a scholarship to Oxford, he worked as a lecturer in Canada, then returned to England and a position in the Poetry Society.  In June 2014, to mark his seventieth birthday, Kit Wright publishes a new collection of poems, Ode to Didcot Power Station, with Bloodaxe Books.

Hippocrates Prize founders

Professor Donald Singer is President of the Fellowship of Postgraduate Medicine, the main patron of the Hippocrates Prize. His interests include research on discovery of new therapies, and public understanding of drugs, health and disease. He co-authors the drug prescribing guide Pocket Prescriber, the 7th edition of which was published by Taylor & Francis in May 2014.

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.

2014 Hippocrates Prize is supported by:

The Fellowship of Postgraduate Medicine, a national medical society founded in 1918 and publisher of the Postgraduate Medical Journal and Health Policy and Technology, has supported the Hippocrates Prize since its launch in 2009.

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. 



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