The UCO of the week: The pharmacy that dispenses poetry


Two teachers recently opened the first ‘Poetry Pharmacy’ in Bishop’s Castle, in Shropshire, England. The difference with this pharmacy is that it is designed to treat ‘emotional ailments’, replacing anti-depressants with some unusually poetic prescriptions.


Deborah Alma and James Sheard believe in the therapeutic power of words. The two lecturers at Keele University, north of Birmingham, recently opened a very unusual business in the form of a pharmacy where you’ll find not the slightest hint of any sort of drug or any other chemical substance but rather pills containing extracts of poetry. ‘Hope pills’, ‘Happy pills’, ‘Broken heart pills’, ‘Insomnia pills’, ‘Internet addiction pills’ and ‘Carpe diem pills’ are just some of the poetic remedies for the most common ailments that customers can find at the Poetry Pharmacy. “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 is 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. “, Deborah explains on the website ActuaLitté. This hybrid concept also offers a selection of books, stationery, small gifts and even a tea room where you can enjoy a delicious cup of Earl Grey.



Getting out and meeting clients

The Poetry Pharmacy is one of those businesses entirely embodied by its founders, Deborah Alma and James Sheard, both of whom are passionate about writing and poetry and are full of empathy for any sensitive and vulnerable individuals that might cross their path. Always keen to establish a direct link with clients looking for alternative therapies, appointments are available every Friday for free consultations, following which a bespoke poetic prescription is issued.


Prior to opening her Poetry Pharmacy Deborah had already been working for 7 years as an ‘emergency poet’, travelling around the country in her vintage ambulance and meeting patients not only in hospitals and at health centres but also at libraries, schools and even festivals.


In a world that is on the brink of being overrun with digital technologies, where clients are looking for a more human dimension from physical shops, Deborah Alma and James Sheard seem to know exactly what they need to do, but this doesn’t stop the two teachers from using social networks! Very much in keeping with the times, however, they also know how to protect themselves against one of modern day’s greatest afflictions – with a pill… designed to fight digital addiction.



Thierry Strickler, Retail Market Intelligence Lead at Altavia.