Poetry for mind, body and soul: shortlists announced for the 2017 Hippocrates Prize

Poets from Australia, Canada, Ireland, Singapore, the USA and the UK are among finalists for major awards in this year’s Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine

Shortlisted in the Health Profession category are Kathy D’Arcy from Cork, Ireland, who has worked as a doctor and youth worker, Iora Dawes, from Stafford, who has worked as a medical social worker, and respiratory physician Andrew Dimitri from Sydney, Australia, who is also a field doctor for the international humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières.

2017 NHS shortlist

Competing for the top award in the Open category are poets Claire Collison from London, England, Rosie Jackson from Somerset in England and Alisha Kaplan from Toronto in Canada.

open-shortlist-2017- med

In the running for the £500 Young Poet Award are: from the USA, Rachel Litchman, Michigan, Joyce Zhou, Illinois, and Erin O'Malley, Pennsylvania; from the UK Roberta Maia Sher, London and Izzy Wythe, Oundle; and from Singapore Vernon Yian.

2017 YP

The judges also agreed a record twenty-nine commendations in the Health Professional category, reflecting the high quality of entries, with a further sixteen poems commended in the Open category, from poets from around the world: the UK, Ireland, the USA, Canada, Australia, Singapore, the Philippines and Switzerland.

The winners will be announced at Harvard on Saturday 6th May at an international symposium on poetry and medicine. There is still time to register for the Awards ceremony and the symposium on 6th May and for the associated event at the Boston Museum of Fine Art on ‘Poetry and Training the Eye’ on Friday 5th May.

The Hippocrates Prize attracts health professionals and established poets alike, with entries this year from over 30 countries. This year, themes have ranged from illness in children to recovery from depression and from cancer to treating victims in conflict zones.

The judges for the 2017 Hippocrates Awards are paediatrician and Emmy Award-winning producer of ER, Neal Baer; celebrated poet and Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory at Harvard, Jorie Graham; Scottish Makar (Scotland’s National Poet) and novelist, Jackie Kay; and New York Professor of Psychiatry and poet, Owen Lewis. The Young Poet category (for writers aged fourteen to eighteen) was judged by New York writer and teacher Maya Catherine Popa.

Neal Baer observed: Here the ordinary becomes extraordinary. These poems relate with emotional depth and in fresh and compelling ways what it means to be healthy and sick."

Jorie Graham commented: “That so much raw suffering, clear-sighted understanding of the vicissitudes of fate, and the perhaps lucky accidents of medical knowledge, or chance, or compassion, could find their way through formal intelligence to these pages is barely short of a miracle. It is certainly a testament to the power of the imagination to heal, console, elegize and cry out against the terrible demands of life and destiny. It is hard to forget these voices once one inhabits their particular circumstances, their messages of belief and profound trust in the consolations of beauty.” 

Owen Lewis too was impressed by the skill and compassion shown in the poems: “As a poet and a physician, reading through the entries as one of the judges for this year’s Hippocrates Prize was a real page-turner. This exciting and moving array of poems speaks to the experiences of illness and health, of patient and healer. The poems are written with both immediacy and reflection, with craft and heart-felt expression.”

Scotland's National Poet Jackie Kay said: “What an inspiring competition to be part of. The Hippocrates Prize is a mind, body and soul competition. One minute you’re reading a poem from a patient, the next a doctor, the next a nurse, the next a porter, the next a friend, the next a family member. One minute you’re reading a poem set in a standard hospital in the UK, the next a makeshift hospital in Syria. One minute you’re thinking about mental anguish and anxiety, the next death and cancer." 

She added: "The poems are powerful, funny, moving, inspiring, thought-provoking. They show us everything we have in common. They help us with grief and grieving. But above all they make us cherish life, our health, our minutes and our hours. I’d keep these poems about me as my companions. They radiate light.

Young Poets judge 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."

“I am very pleased to be supporting this year’s Hippocrates Prize for poetry and medicine,” said patron of the awards Professor Anthony Fretwell-Downing. “These international awards are an excellent way to encourage people from around the world to take an interest in their health through poetry, as shown this year by entries from over 30 countries. The poems resonate with my sense of creativity.”

2017 Patron Anthony Fretwell-Downing

Professor Anthony Fretwell-Downing

The Hippocrates Prize and this year's awards symposium are supported by the healthy heart charity the Cardiovascular Research Trust, philanthropist Professor Anthony Fretwell-Downing, the Hippocrates Initiative and the Arts and Humanities Initiative of Harvard Medical School.

With a prize fund of £6000 /~ USD 7500 for winning and commended poems, the Hippocrates Prize is one of the highest value poetry awards in the world for a single poem. In its 8 years, the Hippocrates Prize has attracted over 8000 entries from over 60 countries, from the Americas to Fiji and Finland to Australasia. 

See more about the shortlisted and commended poets and what inspired them.

Notes for editors

For more on the shortlisted poets and the 2017 Hippocrates Awards,
contact +44 7494 450 805 or +1 
617 432 5693 or email hippocrates.poetry@gmail.com

Hippocrates website

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 Judges

2017 440px-neal baer by gage skidmore

Neal Baer [photo by Gage Skidmore] is an American paediatrician, television writer and producer, best known for his work on the television shows ER and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Baer graduated from Harvard Medical School and completed his internship in Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Baer also holds a master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.In 2000, he received an honorary Doctor of Laws from Colorado College.He received the Jerry L. Pettis Memorial Scholarship from the American Medical Association as the most outstanding medical student who has contributed to promoting a better understanding of medicine in the media.

Baer has written extensively on adolescent health issues, covering such topics as teen pregnancy, AIDS, drug and alcohol abuse, and nutrition.  Baer serves on the boards of many organizations related to health care, including the Venice Family Clinic, RAND Health, Children Now, the Huckleberry Fund of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.  Baer is a member of the Board of Associates at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. He is currently engaged in work to improve the visibility of social determinants of health in media.

2017 jorie-graham

Jorie Graham is one of the most celebrated poets of the American post-war generation. She is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including Hybrids of Plants and Ghosts (1980), Erosion (1983), The End of Beauty (1987), Region of Unlikeness (1991), The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems 1974-1992 (1995) winner of the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, Never (2002), Sea Change (2008), Place (2012), From the New World (2015), and Fast (2017), among others. Born in New York City, Graham was raised and educated in Italy and France. She attended the Sorbonne in Paris, where she studied philosophy, and New York University, where she pursued filmmaking. While in New York, she began writing and studying poetry, and went on to earn an MFA from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. She later taught at the Writers’ Workshop, leaving to join the faculty at Harvard as the Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory, a position previously held by Seamus Heaney and a chair whose occupants date back to John Quincy Adams. She was the first woman to be awarded this position.

Jackie Kay

Jackie Kay [photo by Mary McCartney] was named Scots Makar—the National Poet for Scotland—in March 2016. She is Chancellor of the University of Salford and Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University. Jackie Kay was born and brought up in Scotland. The Adoption Papers (Bloodaxe) won the Forward Prize, a Saltire prize and a Scottish Arts Council Prize. Fiere, her most recent collection of poems, was shortlisted for the COSTA award. Her novel Trumpet won the Guardian Fiction Award and was shortlisted for the IMPAC award. Red Dust Road (Picador) won the Scottish Book of the Year Award, and the London Book Award. It was shortlisted for the J R Ackerley Prize. She was awarded an MBE in 2006, and made a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2002. Her book of stories Wish I Was Here won the Decibel British Book Award. She also writes for children and her book Red Cherry Red (Bloomsbury) won the Clype Award. She has written extensively for stage and television. Her most recent plays Manchester Lines (produced by Manchester Library Theatre) and The New Maw Broon Monologues (produced by Glasgay) were a great success. Her most recent book is a collection of stories, Reality, Reality. She is currently working on her new novel, Bystander.

2017 owen-lewis

Owen Lewis, is the author of two collections of poetry, Marriage Map (Dos Madres Press, January, 2017) and Sometimes Full of Daylight (Dos Madres Press, 2011) and two chapbooks. Best Man (Dos Madres Press, 2015) is the recipient of the 2016 Jean Pedrick Chapbook Prize of the New England Poetry Club. Other prizes include the 2016 International Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine, second prize in the 2017 Paumanok Award, as well as awards from The Mississippi Review, Connecticut River Review, the Kent and Sussex Poetry Society (UK), the London School of Jewish Studies, and a Pushcart nomination. He is a psychiatrist and professor at Columbia University where he teaches with the narrative medicine group, and an adjunct professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

r maya-c-popa med

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.




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