The Poetry Pharmacy, Bishop’s Castle

Poetry Pharmacy Bishop's CastleOn holiday in Bishop’s Castle, Shropshire, I discovered the Poetry Pharmacy run by Deborah Alma. It’s part cafe, part poetry bookshop, part events space and part therapy; the latter via an appointment with the Poetry Pharmacist.

We’d been walking as part of the Bishop’s Castle Walking Festival and needed coffee and cake when we found the Pharmacy. It doesn’t do the usual lattes, cappuccinos etc. Instead the waitress recommended one of the different coffee blends and then delivered a glass flask of black coffee plus a jug of warm, frothy milk on the side. Similarly, she recommended a tea blend for my husband. We sat for a long time in the quiet, peaceful space, leafing through poetry books and magazines which centred around the calmer side of life. Afterwards, I treated myself to a copy of The Emergency Poet edited by Deborah – and, unusually, the book was cheaper in the Pharmacy than on Amazon. It’s a volume full of poems designed to destress and improve the reader’s state of mind. I will be sharing some of the poems with my Shared Reading Group soon.

Still on the subject of poetry, I’ve come across three competitions open for entries:

The Winchester Poetry Prize for poems on any subject and in any form or style. First prize is £1,000. Entry fee is £5. Closing date is 31 July 2022. The judge is Jo Bell, whom I recently had the pleasure of interviewing about her role in compiling the book On this Day She: Putting Women Back into History One Day at a Time for an article in The People’s Friend magazine.

The Writers Bureau Platinum Jubilee Poetry Competition. This is FREE to enter but you need to be quick: closing date is 31st May 2022. The prize is publication on The Writers Bureau’s website and a course or place on a Zoom workshop of the winner’s choice.

Ironbridge Poetry Competition 2022. This competition welcomes poems on any and every subject. First prize is £300 and the closing date is 31 July 2022. The judge is Simon Fletcher, who is widely-published as a poet and lives in Shropshire. He’s also the manager of Offa’s Press.

Poetry Pharmacy Menu

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  1. #1 by Michael Guerin on May 20, 2022 - 5:13 am

    Dear Sally,

    Thank you for sending me your account of discovering the Poetry Pharmacy, which I thoroughly enjoyed. We have a local restaurant which has similar attributes, but no Poetry competitions. Its walls are stacked with books, some of which are for sale, & others to browse through while one enjoys a coffee or a meal.

    As you know, I am compiling a book of my poems, which I plan to release later, maybe on Amazon? I am considering entering some of my poems in the competitions, provided I can retain copyright, which is essential to me. A brief look at the Entry Rules appears to say that Copyright remains with the author?

    Trusting that you are well, and busy as ever with your literary interests? Kind regards, Michael.

    • #2 by Sally Jenkins on May 20, 2022 - 7:51 am

      Thanks for dropping by, Michael. Coffee and books are a great combination aren’t they?
      I absolutely agree that you need to retain copyright on your competition entries. I suggest you always check the Ts & Cs for any competition – I don’t have time to read the small print for all of the competitions I feature on this website.
      Wishing you all the best with your writing!

  2. #3 by davidbarker109 on September 28, 2022 - 11:55 am

    What a lovely book. The concept of this – choosing a poem to read when you feel a certain way, then using the poem to try and make yourself feel better – is absolutely brilliant.

    • #4 by Sally Jenkins on September 28, 2022 - 12:15 pm

      I agree, David. It’s definitely a book worth having on your shelf.

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