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See inside the world's first 'Poetry Pharmacy' in Shropshire - with video

By Charlotte Bentley | Bishop's Castle | South Shropshire entertainment | Published: | Last Updated:

The world's first 'Poetry Pharmacy' opened to eager crowds in Shropshire to coincide with National Poetry Day.

Deborah Alma, also known as the 'Emergency Poet', has set up shop in the creative town of Bishop's Castle after years of travelling around in her vintage ambulance prescribing poetry first aid to people in need.

Poetry Pharmacy opens in Shropshire

The concept started as a way for Deborah to help friends cope with heartbreak or loss, and has led to a kick-starter funding campaign that enabled her to purchase the old ironmonger's in the town and transform it into a walk-in pharmacy dispensing poetry.

Deborah, along with her partner, poet James Sheard, embarked on the adventure due to their love of poetry and said it will be a positive move for the community and the Bishop's Castle high street.

"I am parking the ambulance permanently," Deborah said. "The key thing about it for me is that it is a community project. It began as a kickstarter campaign.

"It’s about bringing poetry to the high street for the first time. Poetry is for anybody and this proves it. It is really important to me that the high street of Bishop’s Castle is not closed down with dark, closed windows.

The Poetry Pharmacy on Bishop's Castle High Street

"After securing the mortgage for the building, I used the money from the kick-starter to pay for heating work, and plastering and things.

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"Then I had an Arts Council grant to set up courses and a series of workshops here. It is a bit of a fun really. Bishop’s Castle is full of artists and writers and it will be great for the community."

The old ironmongers transformed into the pharmacy

Deborah, who is from London originally but has lived in Ludlow for 30 years, said the idea began as a way for her to heal others and herself.

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She said: "It kind of started out at a kitchen table where I would give a friend who had a broken heart or something some poetry to soothe them.

The old ironmongers transformed into the pharmacy

"I worked with people with dementia which also drove the idea because I watched how poetry can affect a change in mood.

"I was in a disastrous relationship and I needed something to absorb me. Buying the ambulance and writing my own poetry helped to cure me. And so I wanted to cure others, through poetry."

The old ironmongers transformed into the pharmacy

The shop is divided up like a traditional pharmacy: there is a consultant room where people can have a private chat with Deborah, upstairs is a distillery workshop and performance space and the cafe area is like a dispensary.

Around 100 people bought tickets to the open event on Thursday evening and were entertained by guest speakers reading poetry.

Charlotte Bentley

By Charlotte Bentley
Community Reporter - @CharlotteB_Star

Community Reporter at the Shropshire Star, helping under-represented communities to find a voice in Shropshire and Mid Wales. Contact me at charlotte.bentley@shropshirestar.co.uk.

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