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A disused Edwardian shop transformed into a walk-in pharmacy dispensing poetry
387 backers pledged £15,907 to help bring this project to life.

About

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£15,907

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Deb Alma and Jim Sheard
Deb Alma and Jim Sheard

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. 

Bishop's Castle High Street with the Pharmacy-to-be on the left
Bishop's Castle High Street with the Pharmacy-to-be on the left

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. 

The mahogany counter in no 36
The mahogany counter in no 36

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. 

Poetry on Prescription inside the ambulance
Poetry on Prescription inside the ambulance

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.

Mobile poetry pharmacy under the awning
Mobile poetry pharmacy under the awning

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). 

The Everyday Poet anthology- one of the rewards
The Everyday Poet anthology- one of the rewards
Poetry is Pants workshop in Bishop's Castle
Poetry is Pants workshop in Bishop's Castle

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. 

Poemcetamol ( one of our rewards)
Poemcetamol ( one of our rewards)
Linoprint of the Poetry Pharmacy by Drusilla Cole
Linoprint of the Poetry Pharmacy by Drusilla Cole
The Emergency Poet anthology
The Emergency Poet anthology
2 of our rewards...earrings and pin badge
2 of our rewards...earrings and pin badge

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.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £5 or more About US$ 6

    Benign Benefactor of Poetry

    Become a Benign Benefactor of the Poetry Pharmacy and in exchange receive our deep gratitude

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    Pledge £10 or more About US$ 13

    A thank you card of the linocut.

    A thank you card of the linocut of the Poetry Pharmacy by Drusilla Cole signed by us and Drusilla (UK addresses)

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    64 backers
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    Pledge £15 or more About US$ 19

    Come for a cuppa

    A voucher for tea/coffee and cake in our Reading Room Cafe

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    52 backers
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    Pledge £20 or more About US$ 25

    Signed copy of poetry anthology

    Receive a signed copy of 'Emergency Poet; An anti-stress poetry anthology', edited by Deborah Alma.

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    Pledge £20 or more About US$ 25

    Signed copy of poetry anthology

    Receive a signed copy of 'The Every day Poet; Poems to Live By'. An anthology edited by Deborah Alma.

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    20 backers
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge £25 or more About US$ 32

    A Poem on Prescription -soundfile

    A digital reward for those who can't get to see us face to face. We'll chat to you via email and prescribe you a poem recorded as a sound-file. You can be read to by James Sheard or Deborah Alma

    Plus a bonus soundfile of a podcast recorded as part of IN DEEP, an immersive digital zine connecting to nature, writing and wellbeing featuring Deborah Alma and recorded in Shropshire. Sound and production- Rebecca Goldsmith. (www.indeepzine.co.uk)

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge £25 or more About US$ 32

    Poetry Pharmacy earrings or pin badge

    An exclusive Poetry Pharmacy pin badge or earrings designed and made by Beth K Crane.

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    Limited 43 backers
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    Pledge £30 or more About US$ 38

    A bottle of ‘poem-cetamol'

    A bottle of ‘poem-cetamol’ - a personalised bottle for your particular ailment. Within each pill is a poem especially chosen for the ailment noted on the bottle.

    Includes:
    • A bottle containing 28 "pills" each containing a poem
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    Pledge £50 or more About US$ 63

    Signed limited edition print

    A signed limited edition linocut print by Drusilla Cole of the shop front of the Poetry Pharmacy (UK addresses only)

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    Limited 15 backers
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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge £60 or more About US$ 76

    Writer's block surgery

    A half-hour writer’s block surgery with Deborah Alma and tea/ coffee and cake in our Reading Room Cafe. (Can be done on the phone or Skype if not local but then no tea, sorry!)

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    Limited 3 backers
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  11. Select this reward

    Pledge £100 or more About US$ 127

    Emergency Poet Consultaion

    A half hour consultation with the Emergency Poet, and tea/ coffee and cake in our Reading Room Cafe. (Can be done on the phone or Skype if not local - but no tea then, sorry!)

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    Pledge £100 or more About US$ 127

    One hour poetry surgery

    A one hour poetry surgery (max 8 poems) with James Sheard or Deborah Alma and tea/ coffee and cake in our Reading Room Cafe. (Can be done on the phone or Skype but then there is no tea, sorry!)

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    Pledge £250 or more About US$ 317

    Be the headline act!

    Be the Headline poet at an open mic. Pay to hear the beautiful sound of your own voice, with a captive audience and you'd be very welcome as our guest for dinner and overnight too.

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  14. Select this reward

    Pledge £300 or more About US$ 381

    Host your own event

    Use our venue for a private poetry event - workshop space for the day, and/or reading in the evening. Deb or Jim will be on hand to help for the day.

    Includes:
    • Space only, any organising or catering is not included
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  15. Select this reward

    Pledge £500 or more About US$ 634

    Beneficent Patron

    Have your name and a cartoon portrait forever emblazoned on our wall and receive a VIP invite to our launch party. (date TBC)

    Plus become a life-long Friend of the Pharmacy, and receive 10% discount in the shop and cafe and when booking onto retreats and workshops run by the Poetry Pharmacy.

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Funding period

- (30 days)