2022 Hippocrates Prize Young Poets Shortlist

Young Poets: Shortlist

A Horse Dreams of Beethoven
Daniel Boyko  New Jersey, United States

Red Tide
Daniel Boyko   New Jersey, United States

Kaylee Chen  South Carolina, United States

And Kicking
Arjun Ram   London, England

Young Poets: Honorable Mention

A Hospital Room
Abigail Fang  California, United States

Elegy for a Beached Dog, Demented
Yong-Yu Huang   Penang, Malaysia

In Remembrance
Fiona Lu   California, United States

Biographies and inspiration for the poems

Daniel Boyko

Daniel Boyko is a writer from New Jersey. His work appears or is forthcoming in SOFTBLOW, Nanoism, Eunoia Review, and The Aurora Journal, among others, and has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. He serves as Editor-in-Chief of Polyphony Lit and looks forward to studying at the University of Pennsylvania in the fall. Wherever his dog is, he can’t be far behind. 

About the inspiration for his two short-listed poems he said: "When my maternal great-uncle, Uncle Bernie, passed away, he chose to be cremated rather than buried, so unlike the other deaths I had experienced, we never held a funeral—a formal family gathering to acknowledge his absence. It was a personal decision, one he had firmly believed in, and yet it also meant I never felt any closure towards his passing, any sense that maybe now it was okay to move on. These two poems, “Red Tide” and “A Horse Dreams of Beethoven,” certainly center on this grief—it was something I had long grappled with but had struggled to internally resolve. “Red Tide,” in particular, stems from the last time I visited Uncle Bernie, at his home in Sarasota, Florida during late August. He took me to see one of the beaches near him—You’ll never see sand so white, he said. But when we got there, the first thing I noticed was the smell. A smell, quite literally, of death. The beach was littered with dead fish bodies. At the time, the Western Florida coast was experiencing a red tide, a natural phenomenon caused by algae that produce harmful toxins that can kill fish and other marine life. The fish on the beach, Uncle Bernie told me, were simply victims. He died in November of that year. “Red Tide” was one of the first poems I wrote about my grief, and I knew I wanted to write about the red tide we saw, because to me, it felt like foreshadowing, like symbolism, that had materialized in the real world. And the death imagery felt particularly resonant—a fitting mixture of the surreal along with my own personal reality. In contrast, “A Horse Dreams of Beethoven” serves more as a way to pay homage to his existence, to my memories of him, with his veterinary background and love for music and animals (specifically, horses) all playing key components (despite, of course, the dark nature of the narrative). There is something both equal parts lyrical and haunting about death, and I wanted to capture that dichotomy within this poem because grief, if nothing else, is a multitude of discombobulating emotions. Together, “Red Tide” and “A Horse Dreams of Beethoven,” in many ways, form part of a much-larger project that help to provide a piece of that closure I never received, of that sense that I should still remember Uncle Bernie and my memories of him, but also, as he would want, try to move on.” 

Kaylee Chen

Kaylee Chen is a junior from Irmo, South Carolina who is currently attending Phillips Exeter Academy. She has been nationally recognized for her work by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards and Columbia College Chicago. When she is not writing, she enjoys reading and playing the piano.

About her poem paean she said: "I have always drawn great inspiration from Greek mythology because it represents the turmoils of our world that stay constant, even as time moves forward. The ancient Greeks used their gods and myths as explanations for human actions like war, natural events like climate change, and more relevantly, plagues, which they believed were sent down as punishments by Apollo, the god of medicine. Although we are now able to rationalize pandemics scientifically, I still think it is the helplessness of human nature against these events that makes me think of a cry to the gods, an appeal to spirituality--and that's where I found the idea behind paean."

Abigail Fang 2022 HIppo YP

Abigail Fang is a high school senior from Irvine, California. She has attended programs at the Kenyon Review Young Writers and the Iowa Young Writers' Studio. She has also been the News Editor and Layout Editor of her school newspaper. Outside of poetry, she loves debate, watching figure skating performances, and craving boba.

About A Hospital Room she said: "This poem was written shortly after a minor procedure left me with stitches over a tiny hole in my neck where the doctors had temporarily put a tube through. I wanted to use the feeling of my bandaged, sore neck and the blank space of surgery before I grew conscious to speak to how isolating some of my previous hospitalizations had felt—the contradiction of how simultaneously purposeless and starved our lives can feel when they are suspended in a hospital room, stripped down to a desire to be loved and remembered that cannot be hidden.”  

Yong-Yu Huang is a Taiwanese student living in Malaysia. Her work is featured or forthcoming in Waxwing, Frontier Poetry, and Passages North, among others, and has been recognised by Princeton University, The Kenyon Review, and the Poetry Society of the UK. She is the recipient of the 2021 Elinor Benedict Poetry Prize. In her free time, she enjoys listening to Studio Ghibli soundtracks and sitting on the beach.

YP 2022 Fiona Lu

Fiona Lu is a student from the San Francisco Bay Area who is passionate about storytelling, no matter what form it may take. She is a founder and editor in chief of the Renaissance Review, a literary magazine dedicated to publishing interdisciplinary art. Her work has been recognized by Ringling College, Princeton University, and the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, and is published or forthcoming in Up the Staircase Quarterly, Kissing Dynamite, and Sine Theta Magazine. In her free time, she likes to drink boba and think about the stars. She hopes you have a great day!

About her poem she said: "The last time I visited my relatives in China, we went to see my grandfather on my dad's side in Hunan. He was bedridden, though when he saw me, he eagerly exclaimed that he remembered me. Later, my mom said that he hadn't actually remembered, and was simply pretending for the sake of lifting our spirits. I felt horrible that this had happened, that my grandpa had felt the need to pretend. Through all the places we visited and sights we saw on the rest of our trip, I couldn't stop thinking of that moment. Now, looking back on the incident, what sticks out to me is a sense of remembrance, both of my own memories of my grandpa, and his fading ones of the world around him. So, when writing a poem centered around Alzheimer's, the disease that's made the biggest mark on my life, I decided to fill it with references to remembrance, to try and convey the feelings I felt that day. In a way, the poem makes a nod to its own purpose, stating that "I would like for this poem to end somewhere nicer, somewhere cleaner." Though, in the end, the inevitable has to be dealt with: " a diagnosis drenched in guilt," "hospital rooms, ghost-white," "the cold ache of remembrance unfurling in my throat.””

Arjun Ram

Arjun Ram is a 17-year-old student from London, United Kingdom, who aspires to study medicine. He is nothing if not a sensitive poet who explores – and gives meaning to -- the world around him by interweaving imagery with figurative language; motifs with allegory. Poetry, he believes, closes the distance between word and meaning, between sense and sensibility. His passion for poetry was stoked as an eight-year-old in Singapore, when his musings on the island nation won him his first accolade. His extensive research on the effects of ethnicity, gender and social media on the mental health of teenagers earned him the runners-up award for the 2021 Asquith Prize. In his spare time, Ram is a fervent actor whose favourite work is Steven Berkoff’s adaptation of Kafka’s Metamorphosis. Later in his life, Ram -- who is deeply interested in the intersection between medicine and poetry -- hopes to use prosody and rhythm one day as an adjuvant therapy to heal hearts.

On the inspiration for his poem he said: “Volunteering at a hospital has given me a chance to witness the helplessness and fragility of patients at the hands of horrific diseases such as cancer. Encapsulating this terror was challenging within the constraints of a short poem, but I needed a valve to release my pent-up emotions. I chose to frame the poem against the extended metaphor of an invasion, paralleling the shocking events unfolding in Ukraine: a one-sided, heartless infiltration, similar to that of a metastasized cancerous tumour – and as rapid in its advance as the marauders marching towards their target. The loneliness of a cancer victim juxtaposed with the whole world around them, watching helplessly, is something I hope resonates with the reader."

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