Lonely Planet Writer

World's first poetry pharmacy plans to grant artistic prescriptions in England

Looking for a more artistic sort of prescription? The world’s first poetry pharmacy is set to open in Shropshire in the heart of England’s West Midlands in late 2019.

What will your prescription be? Photo courtesy of Deborah Alma

The unique venue is the brainchild of Deborah Alma, also known as the ‘Emergency Poet’. For a number of years, she’s brought an old ambulance to festivals, schools and events around the country in what she calls a “poetic first aid service”, handpicking beautiful poems to help her ‘patients’.

The next step is a permanent poetry pharmacy. It will be laid out like a traditional pharmacy, with a section for each ‘emotional ailment’ or you can book a private consultation for a more personalised prescription. There will also be a workshop and performance space and a shop with stationery and gifts.

Deborah and her husband, poet James Sheard, are currently in the process of moving into the building, which still boasts incredible original Edwardian fixtures. A Kickstarter campaign is live to help with the restoration of the building and they’re still looking for support. “The response has been overwhelming, with over 50% of the target achieved in just three days”, Deborah told Lonely Planet. “It’s an ambitious target though, so fingers crossed!”

Poet Angi Holden praised the project, imploring people to get involved. “If you can spare a few quid to help Deb and James transform this abandoned Edwardian ironmongery into an innovative poetry venue, please do”, she said. “It’s one of those creative endeavours that reaches out to share an enthusiasm for poetry with the wider community and it will, with our help, become a truly special place for everyone involved.”

The new project is a permanent base for the ‘Emergency Poet’. Photo courtesy of Deborah Alma

The interest in the project has been huge, particularly with the rise of interest in poetry among younger readers. Poetry book sales in the UK have been on the rise annually since 2013, helped in part by many poets using Instagram as a way of sharing their verse.

For Deborah, she hopes the renewed interest will help many people along the way. “I have believed for a long time that poetry can do so much to match or alter a mood, to help in so many ways with good mental health,” she says. “The Poetry Pharmacy is a way for me to park up the ambulance and bring the therapeutic effects of poetry under one roof, with an emphasis on well-being and inclusivity.” You can follow the project’s progress on their Instagram.