Our Grand Vision
So we got the mortgage and now with your help we are going to turn the idea into a reality. Be a vital part of this transformation of a closed-down, dusty Edwardian ironmonger’s shop into the world’s first Poetry Pharmacy. Together we will establish a new workshop and performance space, a Poetry on Prescription consulting room, a poetry cafe and a pharmacy dispensing books, stationery, art and gifts to address ‘emotional ailments’.
What’s the plan?
Our grand plan is for a venue laid out as though it were a traditional pharmacy; instead of sections for skincare, and plasters and bandages, it will be a walk-in pharmacy dispensing poetry. Move through the building according to your mood- from‘Matters of the Heart’ to ‘For days when the world is too much with us’ and find books, stationery, gifts and local art work chosen to address a particular mood. Speak to the Dispensing Pharmacist who might prescribe you some poetic medicine for a complicated mix of emotions...or if it's more serious, lie down on the consulting couch and have a full length consultation with poems hand-picked for your emotional ailment.
This project was the subject of a recent Guardian news article.
More ambitiously it will become a new centre for poetry and creative writing, with an emphasis on good mental health and well-being, that will encourage strong partnerships with the local community, the West Midlands and the whole of the UK.
Join us in setting up a poetry café and a ‘consulting room’ for poetry on prescription in the office at the back of the shop. There’s also a large upstairs space for workshops and performances. We will be running writing and reading retreats, workshops and reading and writing groups. Also mini-conferences for groups around social prescribing, writing and good mental health. In partnership with The Reader organisation we will run monthly reading groups for people with mental health issues and a LGBT reading group too. There may even be a poetry festival in the absence of Wenlock poetry festival, so that there remains a poetry festival in Shropshire.
Bishop’s Castle in Shropshire sits on the Wild West borders of the Midlands and we will be a part of the rejuvenation of this lovely town’s High Street. Bishop’s Castle is becoming well-known as a town of festivals and is full of artists, writers and crafts-people and is a perfect spot for the world’s first Poetry Pharmacy.
Where the idea came from...
My partner (the poet James Sheard) and I were peering through the dusty shop-door windows on the High Street in pretty Bishop’s Castle about two and a half years ago and I had a vision of the Poetry Pharmacy set against the beautiful Edwardian shop fittings, the original drawers and shelves and mahogany counter in a shop that had been closed for over 10 years.
As the Emergency Poet I have been dispensing poetry for seven years from the back of my vintage ambulance at festivals, conferences, hospitals and care settings, libraries and schools, with a poetry pharmacy of poems-in-pills under the attached awning.
The whole impetus for that project originally was to be a vehicle (pun intended) for poetry to be delivered to people who don’t usually encounter it; to be inviting and not intimidating, to counter the widely held perception that poetry is “difficult, obscure and not for the likes of me”.
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. 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.
So the theatre of the ambulance was the way in. At the heart of it there has always been good quality, intelligent poetry. The Poetry Pharmacy will continue this element of theatre, this light-hearted approach and there will be something in there for everyone; maybe Candlestick Press 'Poems Instead of a Card' and a cup of Tea (S Eliot) and a piece of Philip Parkin from the cafe. (There may be some terrible puns).
What will we be doing with your help?
Join us at this exciting stage in our restoration of the shop with its original Edwardian features; the mahogany counter, drawers and shelving and wooden floors. We will need to paint the shop-front and install heating and new wiring for the shop, cafe and workshop spaces. The lime plaster ceiling in the workshop needs repairing... Our Kickstarter is aimed at raising capital to complete this phase of the project and set us on our way.
We are excited to have you on board as a vital part of rejuvenating a beautiful old building, a town's High Street and to realise this ‘grand vision’. You will become part of something that is very new and open to everyone.
Risks and challenges
There will be many challenges in this renovation. We will be working with a team comprised of generous friends giving us their time and expertise, as well as plumbers, carpenters and electricians. We are effectively "living over the shop" so will be directly involved daily in all work done. Our challenge is to turn a neglected building into a welcoming, accommodating and safe public space in just a few months and hope to be fully open by the end of this year.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)