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Poetry pharmacy set to open in Shropshire

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The Emergency Poet, Deborah Alma, plans to dispense literary first aid from a shop in Bishop’s Castle

Following in the hallowed footsteps of Milton, who wrote in 1671 that “apt words have power to swage / The tumours of a troubled mind / And are as balm to festered wounds”, the poet Deborah Alma is preparing to open the UK’s first poetry pharmacy. Here, instead of sleeping pills and multivitamins, customers will be offered prescriptions of Derek Walcott and Elizabeth Bishop.

Alma, who as the “Emergency Poet” has prescribed poems as cures from the back of a 1970s ambulance for the last six years, is now setting up a permanent outlet in a shop at Bishop’s Castle in Shropshire. An old Edwardian ironmonger’s, it still has the original fixtures and fittings, and, together with her partner, the TS Eliot prize-shortlisted poet James Sheard, Alma is preparing to turn it into a haven “to help ease a variety of maladies with the soothing therapy of Poetry”.

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