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Medicine in Literature

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Poetry and medicine may not seem a natural combination, but they've been interlinked since the time of Hippocrates, who was a poet as well as a doctor. Today, there's an increasing focus on the benefits of poetry in healthcare settings - for both patients and professionals. Take a look at some of our links below to find out more, or read our blog post here.

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Book cover for 'The Emergency Poet' by Deborah Alma

The Emergency Poet: An Anti-Stress Poetry Anthology

An anthology of poems selected to help anyone living with stress, depression and other anxieties. Arranged by spiritual ailment, the sections include a range of verse, new and old, which may be of comfort to those in need of a pick-me-up for the soul.

Book cover depicting blue walls, partial window and vase of flowers.

The Poetry Cure

'When we're ill we're forced to recognise that we've become another person - unfamiliar, frail and mortal. The adjustment is painful and it's well-nigh impossible to find the words to describe how alien our sick self seems. These poems magically supply the images and emotions that help us to accept our inexpressible vulnerability.' – Dr Miriam Stoppard

Book cover with lime green background, clipboard and stethoscope.

Tools of the Trade: Poems for New Doctors

Given to all medical students graduating in Scotland since 2014, 'Tools of the Trade' is a pocket-sized anthology of around 50 poems, intended to aid reflection on compassion and personal resilience in the challenging situations faced by all junior doctors.

Book cover with orange background, title and author.

The Poetry Pharmacy: Tried-and-True Prescriptions for the Heart, Mind and Soul

As heard on BBC Radio 4, the essential prescriptions from William Sieghart's poetic dispensary. These poetic prescriptions and wise words of advice offer comfort, delight and inspiration for all; a space for reflection, and a chance to realise - I'm not the only one who feels like this.

Black and white image of girl's face looking pensive.

Essential Poems from the Staying Alive Trilogy

These essential poems are all about being human, being alive and staying alive: about love and loss; fear and longing; hurt and wonder; war and death; grief and suffering; birth, growing up and family; time, ageing and mortality; memory, self and identity; faith, hope and belief; acceptance of inadequacy and making do...all of human life in a hundred highly individual, universal poems.

Black and white graphic image of two people sitting on a rooftop in conversation, surrounded by the outline of other tall buildings.


“Beda Higgins’ debut collection is pulsing with life. These accomplished poems of hospital wards, loss and the compensations of love are told with clear-sightedness and compassion. Partly inspired by a career in nursing, ‘Ourselves’ brings us the everyday in all its enormity, mundanity and beauty in poems that will resonate widely.” - Anna Woodford

image of a partial set of brightly coloured teeth.


Part poetic experiment and part memoir, Swollening attempts to diagnose what has been undiagnosable, tracing an uneven path from a lifetime of swallowing bad feelings—homophobia in its external and internalized manifestations, heteronormativity, anxiety surrounding desire, aversion to sex—to a body in revolt.

Book cover with purple background. Title 'Every Little Sound' and author 'Ruby Robinson' in lime green.

Every Little Sound (e-book)

Ruby Robinson's debut draws from neuroscience on the idea of 'internal gain', an internal volume control which helps us amplify and focus on quiet sounds in times of threat, danger or intense concentration. Her poems invite us to listen carefully, and use ideas of hearing and listening to explore the legacies of trauma. The book celebrates the separateness and connectedness of human experience in relationships, and our capacity to harm and love.

Book cover with blue background and title 'Please Hear What I'm Not Saying' in orange lettering.

Please Hear What I'm Not Saying

With over 600 submissions, poets from around the world put their pens to paper to create this anthology, enthused by a common goal to raise money for the charity Mind. With poems focusing on mental health from a wide range of experiences, this book aims to continue the worldwide conversation about mental health.

Sage green book cover with author and title in different shades of green.

Of Mutability

In a series that explores the nature of change - in the body and the natural world, and in the shifting relationships between people - these poems look freshly but squarely at mortality. By turns grave and playful, arresting and witty, the poems in Of Mutability celebrate each waking moment as though it might be the last, and in so doing restore wonder to the smallest of encounters.

Child like blurred image of a woman collapsing surrounded by buildings.

Sudden Collapses in Public Places

"Anyone who has ever spent any time in a hospital or in a hospital waiting room will love these poems, anyone who has ever been to the doctor or felt ill or had to fill in a form will love these poems. That covers everyone." - 
Jackie Kay

Image of an elderly man and woman walking with sticks in opposite directions with a reflection of their younger selves dancing across the backdrop.

Don't Bring Me No Rocking Chair: Poems on Ageing

Poetry can help to give us a fresh language to think about ageing and these poems are chosen to fortify, celebrate, lament, grieve, rage and ridicule. Ageing is not a single phenomenon but complex, multiple, perplexing: experienced historically as well as individually. This anthology may not console but it can widen our perspectives, helping us to change what we can change: our attitudes.

Black book cover with title 'Milk and Honey' and author 'Rupi Kaur' in white, with white outline of two bees.

Milk and Honey

Milk and Honey is a collection of poetry and prose about survival, the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. It takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them.

Cross hatch sketch of building with title 'Stairs and Whispers' imposed on top.

Stairs and Whispers: D/deaf and Disabled Poets Write Back

This groundbreaking anthology examines the poetics of disabled and D/deaf cultures. The first of its kind and packed with fierce poetry, essays, photos and links to accessible online videos, it showcases a diversity of styles, opinions, and survival strategies.

Poetry and Medicine
Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine

Currently on hiatus, the Hippocrates Prize is an international poetry prize exploring the relations between poetry and medicine. 

Medicine in Poetry
Ted Talks