Deborah Alma is a poet who lives in the Shropshire town of Bishops Castle in the UK who came up with the idea of prescribing poems instead of pills.
Most of the people who visit the world’s first poetry pharmacy are looking for something to help them cope with the stresses of modern-day living.
Deborah who is a poet herself has arranged the books in her store according to mood and she strongly believes that poetry can aid with a whole range of emotional ailments from exhaustion and stress to broken hearts.
Deborah also runs poetic consultations and poetry workshops.
Upon arriving at the pharmacy Deborah consults with her ‘patients’ asking them a list of questions before she prescribes them with a carefully chosen poem.
Deborah says; “I think, if there’s a skill in what I do, it’s getting the right poem to the right person after getting to know them a little bit and talking to them.
“When I give a poem to someone it becomes theirs and they own it – they stick it in on their fridge and it can be reassuring, uplifting, lots of things.”
Deborah has also worked with dementia patients for years and saw “how poetry can change someone’s mood and also how people like to be listened to very carefully, so carefully that you write down what they say and value what they say”.
Deborah saw one day an ambulance for sale and in what she refers to as a “mad moment”, bought it and set herself up as the “emergency poet” traveling around the country dispensing verse from the back of it.
Deborah believes the art form “can do lots of things, it can be an intimate connection of somebody having been through a problem before you and having come out of it and processed it, it can be a prayer, it can be a curse, it can be a love poem and a charm”.
The World Health Organisation recently released a report which confirmed there is a substantial and ever-growing body of evidence of the health benefits of the arts and at the Poetry Pharmacy they believe getting the right poem to the right person can make a difference.