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An image of William Carlos Williams.

Poetry contest winners announced

Northeast Ohio Medical University’s Department of Family and Community Medicine recently announced the winners of the 41st annual William Carlos Williams poetry competition.

Founded at NEOMED by Drs. Martin Kohn and Delese Wear in 1982, the competition remains enthusiastically received and nationally renowned, receiving entries from hundreds of North American students of allopathic or osteopathic medicine each year.

Poems submitted by nearly 300 students this year were judged by the Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University. In addition to a monetary award, the top three prize-winning poems will be considered for publication in the Journal of Medical Humanities and honored in the annual awards ceremony, to be held on Saturday, March 18, 4:30-6 p.m. (details below).

First place has been awarded to Brian Zhao, a third-year medical student at Brown University and previous William Carlos Williams Honorable Mention (2020 and 2021). His poem, “Resection,” is a stunning meditation on the mysteries and paradox and, ultimately, hope revealed through medical practice.

Bessie Liu, a second-year medical student at Johns Hopkins University, was awarded second place for her poem “After The Surgery,” a reflection on the strangeness of being back out in the world after receiving an unexpected diagnosis.

Third place was awarded to Sarah Phillips, a third-year student at Eastern Virginia Medical School, for the poem “Grief Grows Here,” a tribute to those who are hurting and healing from gun violence.

The judges also acknowledged seven Honorable Mentions this year (listed alphabetically):

  • Dayna Goltz (M1, University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine) for “My favorite bones,”
  • Liz Irvin (M1, University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School) for “Dysbiosis,”
  • Courtney Lee (M2, Weill Cornell Medical College) for “Hoarder,”
  • Haley Strouf Motley (M4, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health) for “A Box of Feathers Waits,”
  • Jude Okonkwo (M2, Columbia Medical School) for “Fragments of a Shattered Buffalo Eclipse,”
  • JD Schwartzman (M2, University of Central Florida College of Medicine) for “Mijo, mijo,” and
  • Catherine Xu (M1, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine) for “In the cadaver lab.”

Brian, Bessie and Sarah will receive commendation in a formal awards ceremony on Saturday, March 18, 2023, where they will read their poetry alongside esteemed poet, nurse and educator Amy Haddad, Ph.D., M.S.N., M.F.A., FAAN.

A teacher at Creighton University in Omaha, NE for over 30 years, Dr. Haddad has published poetry and short stories in the American Journal of Nursing, Janus Head, Journal of Medical Humanities, Touch, Bellevue Literary Review, Aji, Oberon Literary Journal, Abandoned Mine, Intima and several anthologies. Her chapbook, The Geography of Kitchens, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2021 and her first poetry collection, An Otherwise Healthy Woman, was published by Backwaters Press, an imprint of the University of Nebraska Press, in 2022. An Otherwise Healthy Woman won first place in the Creative Works category of the American Journal of Nursing Book Awards 2022.

Read more about Amy Haddad’s poetry.

The awards ceremony will be held at the Health Humanities Consortium Conference, co-sponsored by the Department of Bioethics, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and the Program in Medical Humanities, Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine. The awards ceremony will be included in the Cleveland Humanities Festival, as well, and will be open to HHC conference attendees and the general public. For those attending in person, a light reception from 4-4:30 p.m. will be co-sponsored by Northeast Ohio Medical University and the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities at Case Western Reserve University.

William Carlos Williams Poetry Competition Awards Ceremony
March 18, 2023, 4:30-6 p.m. (Light Reception 4-4:30 p.m.)

Case Western Reserve University
Health Education Campus, Room 176
9501 Euclid Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44106

Join the ceremony virtually