2021 Hippocrates Prize Young Poets Shortlist

Rachel Brooks  Trumbull, Connecticut, USA
November Is When I Become

Elane Kim  Walnut Creek, California, USA

Rhys Pearce Hawick, Roxburghshire, Scotland
Mai ho'oka'awale (separating sickness)

Yvanna Vien Tica  Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines
Euphemisms for Cancer

Olivia Yang  Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
still life: quarantine

We shall announce the winners in the Health Professional, Open and Young Poets categories of the 2021 Hippocrates Prize by live webinar on Zoom 

Wed 19th May from 8.30pm UK time
2021 Hippocrates Prize Awards Ceremony and readings of shortlisted poems
Free EventBrite registration link

* Wed 14th July from 9pm UK time - Please note the change of date *
Readings of commended Health Professional poems in the 2021 Hippocrates Prize  
Free EventBrite registration link

Wed 11th August from 9pm UK time
Readings of commended Open poems in the 2021 Hippocrates Prize  
Free EventBrite registration link

Rachel Brooks is a high school senior from Connecticut, USA. She is a 2020 National Student Poets Program Semi-Finalist and Adroit Journal Poetry Mentee. Her work is forthcoming in Barren Magazine. She has been recognized by the National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, the Claudia Ann Seaman Award for Poetry, Smith College, and the Poetry Society of the UK, among others. Rachel is first author of the medical study “Prevalence of Gastrointestinal, Cardiovascular, Autonomic, and Allergic Manifestations in Hospitalized Patients with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome,” appearing in Oxford University Press’s peer-reviewed journal RheumatologyHer research has been featured at the international Ehlers-Danlos Society ECHO Scientific Summit for Medical Professionals.

She said: "I wrote “November Is When I Become” as an ode to the fragility, elasticity, and often-eroding effects of the group of rare connective tissue disorders, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS). Readers will notice the cattle imagery: After a veterinarian told me that EDS affects dogs and other animals, I read an article on two Limousin calves—full siblings—presenting with EDS. The cold terminology of the article caught me in its precision: the metrical methodology of the post mortem, the diagnosis, the discovered linear fissures and laxity of these cows’ joints and skin. In response, I wanted to write a poem that was elastic—inspired not only by this case-report but also by my experiences navigating EDS and witnessing the disorder in a cousin."

She added: "This poem is a memento to a mutation’s effects, a familial relationship, and the connections that disease too often loosens. What the speaker finds: A genetic defect erodes an esophagus’ lining just as disorder and distance dissolve people, crowding memories with limbs that are too flimsy to lift. The words here ask, what has disease left us with? Do we become our disease just as we become diagnosed? Or does disease shape us in such a way that we become another kind of echo: something greater, something quietly grazing between the lines of a gaping verse.


Elane Kim is a high school student who enjoys exploring the intersection of science and the arts. She is the editor-in-chief of Gaia Lit, an online magazine dedicated to spreading awareness about pressing environmental issues. Her writing has been recognized by the National YoungArts Foundation, the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, Narrative Magazine, and Bow Seat. She is very happy to meet you! 

She said: Origami is a poem that addresses grief—the ways that a body can attempt to digest grief, and the ways that a body can fail. The poem compares a body to paper in the sense that either can be made memorial, whether through words or through hands. However, there remain irreconcilable differences between the two: what happens when a body, as opposed to paper, folds into itself? What is origami, if not the creasing of self? The poem explores how a diagnosis can seem like a verdict, a conclusion, or an ending. At the same time, there is hope to be found in considering what it is that life borrows from death. In the spaces between, there is “something like remedy,” something like light.”


Rhys Pearce is a 16-year-old writer and poet from South Scotland, where he is currently either reading, playing guitar, or having his 3rd existential crisis of the day. He has been writing for about 4 years, in which time he has performed spoken word to a live audience, been shortlisted for the Scottish Young Writer of the Year Award, and featured in an anthology published by Austin Poets International. He is currently a poetry/prose editor at Kalopsia Literary Magazine, and a regular contributor for The Youth Outlook.

He said: "Moving between themes of medical bias, colonialism, and the longstanding prejudice against the victims of illness, Mai Ho’oka’awale examines the legacy of leprosy in Hawaii. Due to an influx of European immigration in the 19th century, leprosy (which in Hawaiian is called mai ho’oka’awale, literally translated as “the separating sickness”) became an epidemic in Hawaii. This led to the establishment of a colony at kalaupapa on the island of Molokai, which aimed to isolate the victims from the rest of molokai’s citizens. However, not only does this illustrate a mistaken view of the level of danger leprosy poses to the vast majority of people, it also facilitated inequality, as European victims of the disease would be allowed to stay with their families, while native sufferers were forced to relocate to the colony. Due to this misconception and bias, these natives were largely uncared for, and many of them died not of their disease, but from the lack of resources in the settlement. The poem then widens out the concept of misconception fuelling discrimination by referring to the situation nowadays, in which certain illnesses, such as mental illnesses, are still heavily stigmatized. It ultimately concludes that until compassion is offered to all victims of illness, the prejudice against them will continue to, in many causes, be just as fatal as the more naturally-occurring symptoms of disease.  Here is the link to my reading."

Headshot for shortlisting

Yvanna Vien Tica is a hearing-impaired high school junior who grew up in Manila and in a suburb near Chicago. She has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Competition, The Kenyon Review, Aster Lit, The Young Playwrights Festival, Princeton University's Creative Writing Department, and The Poetry Society UK.An Adroit Journal mentee in Poetry, Her poetry is forthcoming in Rust + Moth, DIALOGIST, Hobart, and Shenandoah, among others. She is the Editor-in-Chief of The Faith Review, a Senior Editor for Polyphony Lit, a Teen Guest Editor for Inlandia: A Literary Journey, and a Poetry Editor for The Global Youth Review. In her spare time, she can be found enjoying nature and thanking God for another day.

About her poem, she said: "Throughout my life, I've known many who have gone through cancer, most notably my grandmother on my mother's side. She eventually passed away due to liver cancer, and though I have hope of seeing her again, it was during that tumultuous time that I started to realize that for the family of cancer patients, every day is treasured and hard to let go of. There is that fear of tomorrow, of what it might bring, especially for families whose loved ones have had their treatments stopped. In effect, there are instances when everything reminding the family of the situation is avoided and silenced, that very dance with reality becoming a euphemism for thedisease that can take the loved one away at any time. For a while,that stayed with me, and it wasn't until this year when I tried to capture the feeling--the whole simultaneous struggle with grief, fear, helplessness, frustration, and desperation--in a poem. As I wrote, the images and the story came naturally to me: the implication behind stopping a grandmother's cancer treatments, the older members of the family doing their best to get through the picnic, the ignorant sun, the brother still too young to realize the gravity of the situation… Each of them represents a facet of what families go through when loved ones suffer from terminal illnesses, in effect being a microcosm of a larger story. Through this, I hope to show readers who are going through or have gone through such a situation that these emotions are valid and can be expressed instead of bottled up, so that they might start to heal and realize that they are not alone."

Yvanna Tica

Olivia Yang  Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
still life: quarantine


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