2019 Hippocrates Young Poets Prize: 

Comments by judge Elizabeth Smither

"After reading the entries from 1 countries in this year’s Hippocrates Young Poets Prize I feel sure that the future of medicine and the interaction between medical professionals and patients is in good heart. Gone are the old subservient attitudes; today’s patients and doctors are more inclined to share knowledge; the relationship between them is both franker and more sceptical. Some poems showed a remarkable ease with medical terms while others analysed the realities of pain, both physical and psychological. 

Jane Austen did not think suffering improved temperament and many poems emphasised the diminishment that pain brings. I’d like to congratulate all the poets who entered and urge you all to keep on writing and observing. Remember: doctors make good poets and poets make good doctors.”

The Young Poets’ award is supported by healthy heart charity the Cardiovascular Research Trust, which has a particularly interest in promoting heart health among the young throughout the world.

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Rebecca Byrne, County Carlow, Ireland  -  The Butcher's Doll

Hear Rebecca Byrne reading her winning poem


Adetona Temilade Adedeji, Lagos, Nigeria  -  E.R

Emily Liu, Naperville, Illinois, USA  -  Sublimation of Memory

Miles Johnston McInerney, La Jolla, California, USA  -  Seeking Cracked Boys for Clinical Trial

Maia Siegel, Roanoke, Virginia, USA  -  I Woke Up Blind One Day  

Shortlisted young poets and what inspired their poems

r 1. Temilade Adeddeji Adetona

Adetona Temilade Adedeji said: "I was born in 2002 in Lagos, Nigeria where I currently reside. I have completed my secondary education and I am currently on course to study at the higher institution. 

About the inspiration for his poem E.R. he said: "When I was about seven years of age, I was being dressed by my parents for school when I suddenly fell unconscious. I was then rushed to the Emergency Room (E.R) of the nearest hospital. Thankfully, I am alive to write about this but fate is not as kind to all. The poem E.R is an illustration of my now past medical emergency while comparing it to that of others, highlighting how lucky we are, those that actually survive, regardless of the skill level of the medical personnel."

r Rebecca Byrne

Rebecca Byrne said:  "I began writing when I was approximately ten years old, during a bout of hospitalised ill health. I was in many ways quite a frail child and writing provided an outlet into my frenzied creativity and a means of ceaseless distraction. It's a love that I hope will never be slaked. I'm a voracious reader and writer, habits that are responsible for my library resembling an obese bookshop. I'm a student at Kilkenny College and I'm currently studying for my Leaving Certificate. The main reasons why I write would be similar to that of the Romantics, purely because I feel a calling and I enjoy the phantasmagoric element of using an inanimate object (i.e. a pen) to illuminate on my psyche. My writing aspirations regarding my own work inculcate verisimilitude and in depth character building. Two of my poems are going to be published in the 2019 April edition of the international literary review Qutub Minar."

She added: “The inspiration for The Butcher's Doll is auto-biographical. Most of my work tends to draw on previous, tangible experinces that encapsulates events in my life. This poem was written four years after my operation. I had SUFE or Slipped Upper Femoral Epiphysis, which was treated via an eight hour operation. I was under general anaesthetic.  Whilst being a "butcher's doll" I suffered from an asthma attack, causing one of my scars to be "mauve and inelegant".  I wasn't able to do any form of exercise for four years after the operation and this is in part why my writing developed into a raison d'être.  From my perspective, I don't think I could write this poem until recently because it was too fresh, too open. The metaphorical wound as well as the physical still hadn't mended. I hope this poem gives an insight into an experience in my life."


Emily Liu is a sophomore at Neuqua Valley High School in Illinois. Her work has been recognized by the National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and the PTA Reflections Program. In addition, she serves as an editor for Polyphony Lit. An avid reader, she finds great solace and inspiration in the works of Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Fernando Pessoa, Federico García Lorca, and Samuel Beckett. She is interested in exploring the intersections between the humanities and the sciences and is fascinated by the terrible beauty of the universe.

She said: "Sublimation of Memory explores the abatement of grief by way of the psychological arrow of time. It is an elegy to the exorcism of memory and the struggle to find closure against a backdrop of constant change. I was inspired to write this poem based on personal experience with the loss of a loved one. In the years after my grandfather’s passing, the signs of his existence were slowly, subtly erased, the places he touched cleaned, the objects he used replaced, and the pain of his death blunted. To that effect, this poem mourns the idea that no physical or mental edifice can withstand the deliberate passage of time. For those left behind, healing can necessitate a similar displacement of the senses. Through imagery that draws from rural Chinese burial and funeral practices, I attempt to express the ritualistic burning, cleansing, and purging of the deceased’s presence: the way the physical body, as well as anything associated with it, is sublimed in the aftermath of incomprehensible loss. Even after sublimation, however, a substance does not disappear; it only assumes a different form of existence."


Miles Johnston McInerney was born in London, England and grew up in San Diego, California.  He attends the Bishop’s School in La Jolla, California. His poetry has been recognized by Poetry Society (UK) Scholastic Art and Writing Awards (US) and the Hippocrates Young Poets Prize (UK). His poem 33°15′23″N 116°23′57″W was awarded the Norm Strung Writing Award by the Outdoor Writers Association of America.

He said: "I wrote Seeking Cracked Boys for Clinical Trial after waiting for two years and ultimately failing to be matched into a phase 1 clinical trial to evaluate suramin, a century-old drug used for African sleeping sickness as a novel treatment for children with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Clinical trials offer hope, while study criteria and timing dictate participation. 

R Maia Siegel

Maia Siegel lives in Roanoke, Virginia. She will be attending Interlochen Arts Academy for Creative Writing in the Fall. Her poems have appeared in Polyphony HS, Cargoes, the Austin International Poetry Festival Youth Anthology, The Claremont Review, and elsewhere. She was a Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2017 and 2018 Commended Poet, and wrote a Solstice Prize for Young Writers 2017 14-17 Age Category Highly Commended Poem. She is a Pushcart nominee.

On her poem I Woke Up Blind One Day she said: "I've always been fascinated by the endangered animal prints that hang in my doctor's examination rooms. To be reminded of your mortality in a space dedicated to your health can be, well, foreboding. This poem starts with the idea of sight - what it means to lose it, and to regain it - and ends with me staring at those animal prints. The strangeness of not being scared after waking up blind didn't hit me until much later. I just assumed my sight would come back. This assumption of invincibility melts away as you get down the poem."

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