What we do, where we're from ...
The Emergency Poet...
We have been dispensing poetry since 2011 from the back of our vintage ambulance as the Emergency Poet 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 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”.
We believe that poetry can do so much to match or alter a mood, to assist in so many ways with good mental health. The Poetry Pharmacy was a way for us 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 continues this element of theatre, this light-hearted approach, and there is something here for everyone.
Deborah Alma has lived on the Welsh/ Shropshire borders for over 30 years, where she brought up her 2 sons. She worked with people with dementia and at the end of their lives for many years and worked as the Emergency Poet in her 1970’s ambulance.
She taught Creative Writing at Worcester and then Keele Universities, where she was Honorary Research Fellow. She is editor of The Emergency Poet-an anti-stress poetry anthology and The Everyday Poet-Poems to Live By (Michael O’Mara Books) and was the editor of the award-winning #MeToo poetry anthology, published by Fair Acre Press.
She is also editor of the Candlestick Press Ten Poems of Happiness, and was co-editor with Dr Katie Amiel of These Are the Hands - Poems from the Heart of the NHS and The National Trust Book of Nature Poems is published in April 2023.
Her poetry pamphlet True Tales of the Countryside was published by The Emma Press and her first poetry collection was Dirty Laundry (Nine Arches Press) in 2017.
Dr James Sheard’s most recent collection, The Abandoned Settlements (Cape, 2016), was a Poetry Book Society Choice and shortlisted for the TS Eliot Poetry Prize.
His first collection Scattering Eva (Cape, 2005), was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and the Glen Dimplex Award for Poetry. His pamphlet, Hotel Mastbosch, won the Ictus Prize.
He leads the Creative Writing department at Keele University where he is Senior Lecturer and was often seen driving an Emergency Poet ambulance.
Pat Edwards is Queen of the Café here at the Poetry Pharmacy, and runs Verbatim poetry open mic nights and a monthly writing workshop, Touch Paper. She's director of the Welshpool Poetry Festival, and her latest pamphlet is Hail Marys, published by Infinity Books UK.
Becky is enjoying her new role immersed in the Poetry Pharmacy after a varied career that included many years of teaching English in different settings. She's a familiar face to those local to Bishop's Castle, and has recently picked up the Poetry Habit!
Rhiannon works on events and marketing, and runs our poetry surgeries and a monthly reading group focused on queer literature. She is a poet, editor, and recovering academic, and her latest book of poems is Goliat, published by Seren Books.
We are also supported by a small team of volunteers who help to keep the place going in many different ways; Anna Dreda for her regular Poetry Book Club, Judith Trustman in the cafe on Fridays, and Helga Rose for pill production. Our heartfelt thanks for all they do!