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The Poetry Pharmacy: Tried-and-True Prescriptions for the Mind, Heart and Soul

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'Truly a marvellous collection ... There is balm for the soul, fire for the belly, a cooling compress for the fevered brow, solace for the wounded, an arm around the lonely shoulder - the whole collection is a matchless compound of hug, tonic and kiss' Stephen Fry Sometimes only a poem will do. These poetic prescriptions and wise words of advice offer comfort, delight and i 'Truly a marvellous collection ... There is balm for the soul, fire for the belly, a cooling compress for the fevered brow, solace for the wounded, an arm around the lonely shoulder - the whole collection is a matchless compound of hug, tonic and kiss' Stephen Fry Sometimes only a poem will do. These poetic prescriptions and wise words of advice offer comfort, delight and inspiration for all; a space for reflection, and that precious realization - I'm not the only one who feels like this. In the years since he first had the idea of prescribing short, powerful poems for all manner of spiritual ailments, William Sieghart has taken his Poetry Pharmacy around the length and breadth of Britain, into the pages of the Guardian, onto BBC Radio 4 and onto the television, honing his prescriptions all the time. This pocket-sized book presents the most essential poems in his dispensary: those which, again and again, have really shown themselves to work. Whether you are suffering from loneliness, lack of courage, heartbreak, hopelessness, or even from an excess of ego, there is something here to ease your pain. 'The book is delightful; it rightly resituates poetry in relation to its biggest and most serious task: helping us to live and die well' Alain de Botton


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'Truly a marvellous collection ... There is balm for the soul, fire for the belly, a cooling compress for the fevered brow, solace for the wounded, an arm around the lonely shoulder - the whole collection is a matchless compound of hug, tonic and kiss' Stephen Fry Sometimes only a poem will do. These poetic prescriptions and wise words of advice offer comfort, delight and i 'Truly a marvellous collection ... There is balm for the soul, fire for the belly, a cooling compress for the fevered brow, solace for the wounded, an arm around the lonely shoulder - the whole collection is a matchless compound of hug, tonic and kiss' Stephen Fry Sometimes only a poem will do. These poetic prescriptions and wise words of advice offer comfort, delight and inspiration for all; a space for reflection, and that precious realization - I'm not the only one who feels like this. In the years since he first had the idea of prescribing short, powerful poems for all manner of spiritual ailments, William Sieghart has taken his Poetry Pharmacy around the length and breadth of Britain, into the pages of the Guardian, onto BBC Radio 4 and onto the television, honing his prescriptions all the time. This pocket-sized book presents the most essential poems in his dispensary: those which, again and again, have really shown themselves to work. Whether you are suffering from loneliness, lack of courage, heartbreak, hopelessness, or even from an excess of ego, there is something here to ease your pain. 'The book is delightful; it rightly resituates poetry in relation to its biggest and most serious task: helping us to live and die well' Alain de Botton

30 review for The Poetry Pharmacy: Tried-and-True Prescriptions for the Mind, Heart and Soul

  1. 5 out of 5

    ~The Bookish Redhead~

    The Poetry Pharmacy is exactly what it states in the title. This short read contains poems from a range of authors, all dealing with different subjects, such as bereavement, obsessive love, self image and self acceptance and various others. Some of these poems I enjoyed and appreciated more than others. Here is one of my favourites; "Although the wind." By Izumi Shikibu. Although the wind blows terribly here, the moonlight also leaks between the roof planks of this ruined house. I like the variety of au The Poetry Pharmacy is exactly what it states in the title. This short read contains poems from a range of authors, all dealing with different subjects, such as bereavement, obsessive love, self image and self acceptance and various others. Some of these poems I enjoyed and appreciated more than others. Here is one of my favourites; "Although the wind." By Izumi Shikibu. Although the wind blows terribly here, the moonlight also leaks between the roof planks of this ruined house. I like the variety of authors that are included in here. You have Rumi, but then you have Maya Angelou. I happen to love Maya Angelou's "Phenomenal woman" and this poem is in the section of "Insecurity" This poem is grand for any woman that is insecure about themselves, especially their appearance, and it tells us that you don't have to live up to or be societies expectation. You are an individual, and you are a phenomenal woman, no matter what size dress you take, or no matter what you choose to wear. While I liked this book, I thought that the author could have included a few poems for each section, as I do think for me, it was certainly lacking something. I think this is a good book to start with if you are fairly new to poetry, or, it could make a rather good present for an individual needing some thoughtful words.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Today is National Poetry Day here in the UK, and there could be no better primer for reluctant poetry readers than William Sieghart’s The Poetry Pharmacy. Consider it the verse equivalent of Berthoud and Elderkin’s The Novel Cure: an accessible and inspirational guide that suggests the right piece at the right time to help heal a particular emotional condition. Sieghart, a former chairman of the Arts Council Lottery Panel, founded the Forward Prizes for Poetry in 1992 and National Poetry Day itse Today is National Poetry Day here in the UK, and there could be no better primer for reluctant poetry readers than William Sieghart’s The Poetry Pharmacy. Consider it the verse equivalent of Berthoud and Elderkin’s The Novel Cure: an accessible and inspirational guide that suggests the right piece at the right time to help heal a particular emotional condition. Sieghart, a former chairman of the Arts Council Lottery Panel, founded the Forward Prizes for Poetry in 1992 and National Poetry Day itself in 1994. He’s active in supporting public libraries and charities, but he’s also dedicated to giving personal poetry prescriptions, and has taken his Poetry Pharmacy idea to literary festivals, newspapers and radio programs. Under five broad headings, this short book covers everything from Anxiety and Convalescence to Heartbreak and Regret. I most appreciated the discussion of slightly more existential states, such as Feelings of Unreality, for which Sieghart prescribes a passage from John Burnside’s “Of Gravity and Light,” about the grounding Buddhist monks find in menial tasks. Pay attention to life’s everyday duties, the poem teaches, and higher insights will come. I also particularly enjoyed Julia Darling’s “Chemotherapy”— I never thought that life could get this small, that I would care so much about a cup, the taste of tea, the texture of a shawl, and whether or not I should get up. and “Although the wind” by Izumi Shikibu: Although the wind blows terribly here, the moonlight also leaks between the roof planks of this ruined house. Sieghart has chosen a great variety of poems in terms of time period and register. Rumi and Hafez share space with Wendy Cope and Maya Angelou. Of the 56 poems, I’d estimate that at least three-quarters are from the twentieth century or later. At times the selections are fairly obvious or clichéd (especially “Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep” for Bereavement), and the choice of short poems or excerpts seems to pander to short attention spans. So populist is the approach that Sieghart warns Keats is the hardest of all. I also thought there should have been a strict one poem per poet rule; several get two or even three entries. If put in the right hands, though, this book will be an ideal introduction to the breadth of poetry out there. It would be a perfect Christmas present for the person in your life who always says they wish they could appreciate poetry but just don’t know where to start or how to understand it. Readers of a certain age may get the most out of the book, as a frequently recurring message is that it’s never too late to change one’s life and grow in positive ways. “What people need more than comfort is to be given a different perspective on their inner turmoil. They need to reframe their narrative in a way that leaves room for happiness and gratitude,” Sieghart writes. Poetry is a perfect way to look slantwise at truth (to paraphrase Emily Dickinson) and change your perceptions about life. If you’re new to poetry, pick this up at once; if you’re an old hand, maybe buy it for someone else and have a quick glance through to discover a new poet or two. Do you turn to poetry when you’re struggling with life? Does it help? Related reading: Books I’ve read and enjoyed: The Hatred of Poetry by Ben Lerner 52 Ways of Looking at a Poem by Ruth Padel The Poem and the Journey and 60 Poems to Read Along the Way by Ruth Padel Currently reading: Why Poetry by Matthew Zapruder On the TBR: Poetry Will Save Your Life: A Memoir by Jill Bialosky How to Read a Poem by Molly Peacock Originally published, with images, on my blog, Bookish Beck.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    4.5 stars if I could, but I'm happy to round up rather than down. Robert Graves wrote, “A well chosen anthology is a complete dispensary of medicine for the more common mental disorders, and may be used as much for prevention as cure,” and that is the premise of the present anthology. Sieghart explains in his introduction how the idea of his Poetry Pharmacy arose and developed, following with a useful short note on "how to read poetry". He then introduces each poem under a heading for the "conditi 4.5 stars if I could, but I'm happy to round up rather than down. Robert Graves wrote, “A well chosen anthology is a complete dispensary of medicine for the more common mental disorders, and may be used as much for prevention as cure,” and that is the premise of the present anthology. Sieghart explains in his introduction how the idea of his Poetry Pharmacy arose and developed, following with a useful short note on "how to read poetry". He then introduces each poem under a heading for the "conditions" for which he would describe them, and how a particular reading might shed light upon the causes of, or alleviate the feelings of, distress. Naturally, there is a subjective view to such things, and I didn't always feel a particular poem was apposite, or that it would necessarily be helpful or therapeutic, but that's shaped by my own feeling-world and frame of reference. On balance, I think Sieghart hit the mark much more often than he missed. I'm not sure how seriously Sieghart takes his idea of prescribing "pills" of poetry as if they would have a defined, consistent, and predictable effect upon different individuals. I'd assume that's not his position (and I'd disagree with him if it is), however, in a social setting that adheres to the Western medical-model of health and well-being, his pharmacy concept may be a gateway through which people can engage with poetry, and hopefully find a reflective space in which they can better understand themselves and the wellsprings of their distress.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    A poetry book for people who say they don’t like poetry.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Dane Cobain

    This was a cute little collection, although it did also start to feel a little repetitive after a while. In it, Sieghart basically takes a bunch of different circumstances in which someone might need a poem and then he makes a diagnosis and writes out a prescription in the form of a famous poem. Sieghart has made a name for himself as the proprietor of the Poetry Pharmacy, and he goes to events and listens to people’s troubles and then suggests a poem that might help them. It’s a pretty cool idea This was a cute little collection, although it did also start to feel a little repetitive after a while. In it, Sieghart basically takes a bunch of different circumstances in which someone might need a poem and then he makes a diagnosis and writes out a prescription in the form of a famous poem. Sieghart has made a name for himself as the proprietor of the Poetry Pharmacy, and he goes to events and listens to people’s troubles and then suggests a poem that might help them. It’s a pretty cool idea, and the poems in this collection are plenty of fun and come from a wide variety of sources. It’s also presented in a stunning red hardback that quite honestly will make a great addition to your collection even if you don’t read it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ophelia

    I just love the idea of this - sounds like the perfect job, to sit and listen to people tell you how they're feeling, and then read them a poem that makes them feel less alone in that feeling. Whilst I didn't necessarily love all the poems in this collection (question: is two bullet pointed sentences really a poem? idk) they all made sense with the explanation of their inclusion alongside, and the afflictions of the heart, mind and soul that they intend to treat. It also includes some of my favou I just love the idea of this - sounds like the perfect job, to sit and listen to people tell you how they're feeling, and then read them a poem that makes them feel less alone in that feeling. Whilst I didn't necessarily love all the poems in this collection (question: is two bullet pointed sentences really a poem? idk) they all made sense with the explanation of their inclusion alongside, and the afflictions of the heart, mind and soul that they intend to treat. It also includes some of my favourites, plus many I hadn't heard of and now plan to read again. Giving it a 3.5* rounded up for the surprising amount of joy it brought.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    A selection of poems arranged under the following broad topical headings: - Mental and Emotional Wellbeing - Motivations - Self-Image and Self-Acceptance - The World And Other People - Love And Loss The idea behind this collection is that a poem is offered as a prescription for some particular facet of the human experience. They are, to use the metaphor the author employs, like talking to someone who has 'the right words' to address and comfort you in your current situation. From the introduction: 'The A selection of poems arranged under the following broad topical headings: - Mental and Emotional Wellbeing - Motivations - Self-Image and Self-Acceptance - The World And Other People - Love And Loss The idea behind this collection is that a poem is offered as a prescription for some particular facet of the human experience. They are, to use the metaphor the author employs, like talking to someone who has 'the right words' to address and comfort you in your current situation. From the introduction: 'The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours.' Some of these poems spoke to instances in my life more than others, as will be the case with anyone who reads this book. While this is an interesting idea for a collection, I give it an overall rating of three stars.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    I don't know a great deal about poetry and often feel that I 'don't get it'. This book is ideal for me! William Seighart has compiled a selection of poems for all sorts of emotional states and occasions. On the left-hand page are his thoughts about the piece and why someone might find it suitable for a particular time in their life. On the right-hand page is the poem itself. I recognised some of the poems but many were new to me. An old favourite was The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry. In I don't know a great deal about poetry and often feel that I 'don't get it'. This book is ideal for me! William Seighart has compiled a selection of poems for all sorts of emotional states and occasions. On the left-hand page are his thoughts about the piece and why someone might find it suitable for a particular time in their life. On the right-hand page is the poem itself. I recognised some of the poems but many were new to me. An old favourite was The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry. In his comments Mr Seighart talks of midnight worries when "the blank space of the darkness provides a theatre for the most intense and unlikely of worries, putting your sense of powerlessness, of your own vulnerability and of the vulnerabilities of your loved ones into even sharper perspective. The night-time is when there is nothing to be done except brood." I'm sure most of us can remember nights like that! When despair grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting for their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free. On a lighter note, in Two Cures For Love by Wendy Cope Mr Seighart notes that in the case of unrequited love, perspective can be very helpful. The poem tells us in short and sweet terms: 1. Don't see him. Don't phone or write a letter. 2. The easy way: get to know him better. I enjoyed reading it through but of course the real value of this book is to have it to hand on days when one of these poems, together with the accompanying thoughts and notes, is just the very thing you need to deal with that particular life challenge.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Allin

    I seriously want to find William Sieghart and give him a hug. This book is beyond any self help book in any genre really. It comprises a poem in conjunction with a piece of writing from Sieghart containing prescriptions for most all of our human malaises. I have found such relief in poetry during my journey through loss, pain, sadness, betrayal and depression. But this collection is truly special and loaded with sage wisdom from someone you just know has been there too and used his experience to I seriously want to find William Sieghart and give him a hug. This book is beyond any self help book in any genre really. It comprises a poem in conjunction with a piece of writing from Sieghart containing prescriptions for most all of our human malaises. I have found such relief in poetry during my journey through loss, pain, sadness, betrayal and depression. But this collection is truly special and loaded with sage wisdom from someone you just know has been there too and used his experience to find truth.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Amira Hk

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I was very skeptical of this book when I read all of it at first. I only gave it three stars because the poems were good. I thought this man shouldn't be outhere making money on other poets' backs. How can he claim that a simple poem can help with someone's mental health? After owning it for four months or less I understand the need for this book. That's what poetry is; a weapon against mental illness. Share what's inside of you through poetry even if it doesn't reach anybody but you. Read, list I was very skeptical of this book when I read all of it at first. I only gave it three stars because the poems were good. I thought this man shouldn't be outhere making money on other poets' backs. How can he claim that a simple poem can help with someone's mental health? After owning it for four months or less I understand the need for this book. That's what poetry is; a weapon against mental illness. Share what's inside of you through poetry even if it doesn't reach anybody but you. Read, listen, write. (Start by reading this book)

  11. 4 out of 5

    Seren

    There’s nothing like reading a book and it being exactly what you needed at that exact moment. I think I’d have felt like that with this book at any time, but life’s been particularly hard lately and wow I really needed this. It’s not often I cry at books (let alone cry multiple times) but this is that sort of collection. And any book that includes my favourite Mary Oliver poem is an automatic winner from.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Maisie

    i find it difficult to definitely mark this as ‘read’ because usually that means it’s over, but this is a book i constantly come back to. something about sieghart’s writing is so soothing: he puts into words the feelings swimming around my head and makes me feel a little less crazy. his poetry selections are perfect and there isn’t one i haven’t enjoyed in its own right. god, i love this book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Raphael Lysander

    I believe the author focused too much on being diverse, and on being related to the topics literally, therefore, a good number of the poems were not beautiful or impressive- for a lot of good poetry puts us in a certain mood, inspire an idea, or draw a scene, but not necessarily be useful or solve anything.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ophelinha

    Food for the soul, medicine for the broken heart. Rediscovering poetry one line at the time.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jasmin

    This is such a great anthology of poems, a book I will definitely keep referring back to when I need some reassurance or comfort in other people's words.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Caroline Middleton

    This was such a gorgeous read. As someone who finds poetry intimidating, I really enjoyed the blend of poems prescribed for different emotional ailments with a bit of context from Sieghart about them, and how they apply to real life. This is mindful goodness; a worthy gift for you or any friend experiencing life’s ups and downs. Maybe not for the serious poetry fans, though. My favourite poems: Ironing by Vicki Feaver and Atlas by U. A. Fanthorpe. On Fear Of The Unknown: “When you really think ab This was such a gorgeous read. As someone who finds poetry intimidating, I really enjoyed the blend of poems prescribed for different emotional ailments with a bit of context from Sieghart about them, and how they apply to real life. This is mindful goodness; a worthy gift for you or any friend experiencing life’s ups and downs. Maybe not for the serious poetry fans, though. My favourite poems: Ironing by Vicki Feaver and Atlas by U. A. Fanthorpe. On Fear Of The Unknown: “When you really think about it, it’s a wonderful thing that our lives are so rich with different possibilities. If you had the chance to know how things were going to turn out, would you really take it? Or would you prefer to reach the ending the long way around, delighting in the suspense and even, if you’re lucky, the coming together of the plot’s different strands before each of the big climaxes still awaiting you? I know which I’d choose. To use a very modern phrase for a very old thought: no spoilers.” On Insecurity: “Our confidence, the sun of our smiles, our vitality and the joy we find in life make us more attractive than any surgery or fad diet ever could. Allowing ourselves to be brought down by our perceived imperfections will create only a new, far more real imperfection by denying us the greatest cosmetic of all: happiness.”

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lorraine

    Most of the poems in this are great. The premise of this book, however, is both bizarre and disturbing. On the one hand there is a certain reverence for art, which has modernist (well, Romantic) roots. On the other there is this instrumentalisation of poetry as therapy. I'm not even sure it's a proper bibliotherapy thing. It's just bizarre -- dependent on some very queer readings of poems -- and the assumption that poems can be 'prescribed' like pills is even more disturbing (he has curated them Most of the poems in this are great. The premise of this book, however, is both bizarre and disturbing. On the one hand there is a certain reverence for art, which has modernist (well, Romantic) roots. On the other there is this instrumentalisation of poetry as therapy. I'm not even sure it's a proper bibliotherapy thing. It's just bizarre -- dependent on some very queer readings of poems -- and the assumption that poems can be 'prescribed' like pills is even more disturbing (he has curated them and apparently some pills are better pills than others, and these pills work universally for all people, nevermind your individual reaction to a poem?). What irks me the most, perhaps, is what one might consider a minor detail, but something that I think is telling re his view on poetry. This man has categorised the poems not by poem name (so, assuming you liked one, you can't find it by title) but by the ailment said poem is supposed to treat. This person does not love poetry, in my opinion. Then again, he set up a charity for gifted kids. Some are more equal than others, welcome Doctor, and your relation of power. Enough said.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sir Readalot

    Tldr; This book lives up to it's title! • I'm a self help junkie (the worst kind!), and as a "responsible" adult I turn to books instead of getting professional help. Recently, thanks to my close friend, I started reading poetry and oh boy I was so lucky to stumble upon this book! • The author has done a great job of curating poems for every common emotional problem, only to use them as a medicine. • Subjectively speaking, most of the poems did wonders on me. And at times, I felt that some poems Tldr; This book lives up to it's title! • I'm a self help junkie (the worst kind!), and as a "responsible" adult I turn to books instead of getting professional help. Recently, thanks to my close friend, I started reading poetry and oh boy I was so lucky to stumble upon this book! • The author has done a great job of curating poems for every common emotional problem, only to use them as a medicine. • Subjectively speaking, most of the poems did wonders on me. And at times, I felt that some poems were forced and they were just there because the author couldn't find a better one (or... It went over my head) PS: This is now my go to book for whenever I'm feeling low and need something to cheer me up :)

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Hancock

    Braden gave me this for Mother's Day and I love it! The concept is fun, the analyses are brief and thoughtful, and the poems themselves are gems.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Malene

    A comforting addition to any bookshelf.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Laura | What's Hot?

    Find the full review on What's Hot. This post is a little different to most book reviews on here. I’m going to tell you a story about me and this book that I think will explain how I feel much more succinctly than a “proper” review ever could. Confession time. Whilst I was hugely excited about The Poetry Pharmacy‘s arrival, I was also quite disappointed when I finally opened it up. It was exactly what I thought it would be – a poem for every ailment – but it didn’t quite hit the spot. I spent day Find the full review on What's Hot. This post is a little different to most book reviews on here. I’m going to tell you a story about me and this book that I think will explain how I feel much more succinctly than a “proper” review ever could. Confession time. Whilst I was hugely excited about The Poetry Pharmacy‘s arrival, I was also quite disappointed when I finally opened it up. It was exactly what I thought it would be – a poem for every ailment – but it didn’t quite hit the spot. I spent days looking at it on my bedside table wondering how a book that had received so many great reviews, that had sounded so perfect for me, could be such a disappointment. Fast forward another week and I’m sitting on the tube on Christmas Eve, suddenly feeling incredibly lonely. I’ve brought this book along with me because I’m hoping I’ll be able to get an Instagrammable picture of it on my wander through London. I reach into my bag, deciding to give this book another chance, despite the eight other options I’ve brought with me (yes, seriously). I open it up, flick to page 27, and that’s where I find “My Brilliant Image” by Hafez (in translation). It’s a poem for loneliness but is also suitable for general malaise, loss of motivation, lack of self-belief, low self-esteem, lack of support. I read. I wish I could show you, When you are lonely or in darkness, The Astonishing Light Of your own Being! And suddenly, I feel less alone. My heart is warmed. I suddenly see why critics are raving about this book and realise the power of Sieghart’s Poetry Pharmacy. Perhaps poetry really is the greatest medicine after all. I eagerly flick to another, hoping to recreate that feeling, but it doesn’t come. “Burlap Sack” by Jane Hirshfield just isn’t what I need right now. I’m not looking for reprise from “emotional baggage” right now and this poem goes straight over my head. So you see this isn’t a book that you buy for immediate consumption. It’s something you buy, put on the shelf, and most likely forget about for the next few months. There’ll come a time, however, when you’re in need; when feelings of purposelessness, glumness, depression, stagnation, defeatism, regret, infatuation, heartbreak, or bereavement overwhelm you. That’s when you’ll find yourself reaching out for The Poetry Pharmacy. Keep this on your bookshelf as you would keep paracetamol in your bathroom cupboard. You never know when you’re going to need it but when you do it’ll be right there waiting for you. Do yourself a favour and purchase this now – future you will thank me when the time is right. Find the full review on What's Hot.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Shelley

    Description “When we're grieving, when we're broken-hearted, and when we find ourselves struggling to understand the things we're feeling, we long for the connection poetry can provide. To find the right poem at that crucial moment, one capable of expressing our situation with considerably more elegance than we could muster ourselves, is to discover a powerful sense of complicity, and that precious realization: I'm not the only one who feels like this. In the years since he first had the idea of p Description “When we're grieving, when we're broken-hearted, and when we find ourselves struggling to understand the things we're feeling, we long for the connection poetry can provide. To find the right poem at that crucial moment, one capable of expressing our situation with considerably more elegance than we could muster ourselves, is to discover a powerful sense of complicity, and that precious realization: I'm not the only one who feels like this. In the years since he first had the idea of prescribing short, powerful poems for all manner of spiritual ailments, William Sieghart has taken his Poetry Pharmacy around the length and breadth of Britain, into the pages of the Guardian, onto BBC Radio 4 and onto the television, honing his prescriptions all the time. This pocket-sized book presents the most essential poems in his dispensary: those which, again and again, have really shown themselves to work. Whether you are suffering from loneliness, lack of courage, heartbreak, hopelessness, or even from an excess of ego, there is something here to ease your pain.” Favourite Poems All that is Gold Does Not Glitter / J.R.R Tolkien “All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost; The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken, A light from the shadows shall spring; Renewed shall be blade that was broken, The crownless again shall be king.” Come to the Edge / Christopher Logue “Come to the edge. We might fall. Come to the edge. It's too high! COME TO THE EDGE! And they came And he pushed And they flew.” The Way It Is / William Stafford There’s a thread you follow. It goes among things that change. But it doesn’t change. People wonder about what you are pursuing. You have to explain about the thread. But it is hard for others to see. While you hold it you can’t get lost. Tragedies happen; people get hurt or die; and you suffer and get old. Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding. You don’t ever let go of the thread. Thoughts Out of the blue, I received this beautiful book as a gift from Mr Harris. He said, ‘this seems right up your alley. I thought you’d really like it. And the manager at Waterstones recommended it too.’ So naturally I was excited and my expectations were high. This was serious business. My relationship was on the line. (LOL, OF COURSE NOT!!! It’s not like he was about to show how well he knew my soul, most importantly my reading tastes, or anything...) Thankfully both of them could sigh in relief. Because, this book, really was everything I could have hoped for. It’s a small book full of multiple tiny surprises. The Poetry Pharmacy really is a perfect title. As it does what it states on the cover – it’s like drinking a big cup of herbal tea to soothe the soul and knowing the remedies will make you feel better. It was exactly what I needed to read right now! Recently my anxiety had gotten the best of me. And in times when it cropped up like an umbrella waiting for it to rain, once I’d read a poem, the umbrella slowly started to unfold and was put back on the coat rack, ready for another day. Now, I feel armoured for those days. Throughout the collection, there are five sections; Mental and Emotional Wellbeing, Motivations, Self-Image and Self-Acceptance, The World and Other People, and lastly, Love and Loss. Under each theme were multiple poems and descriptions for different types of emotions such as anxiety, lack of courage, insecurity, social overload and false expectations in love. What I loved about this, was its variety. For every feeling you could conjure, there was a poem for it. In the back of the book, there is a whole index full of all the kinds of emotions you can encounter within your lifetime and it matches the poems you would most likely be suitable to read to help you. Some poems were like a hand reaching out softly for comfort, rubbing your back, and saying ‘everything is going to be alright.’ (Which consequently is a title for one of the poems in the book.) And sometimes, the poems are like prescribed medicine – you take it because you know it will make you feel better. But it tastes bitter on the way down. The purpose of this collection is to, as Alan Benett describes in the Introduction, to ‘come across something – which you had thought special and particular to you. Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours.’ (THIS HAS TO BE ONE OF MY FAVOURITE QUOTES OF ALL TIME!) And guys, oh guys, does this collection achieve this! After lying in bed, clutching the book to my chest, I said to Mr Harris… ‘It’s like you went out seeking a piece of my soul and came back with a representation of my mission in life. You found a healing potion for all my worries. And brought it to me in a physical form.' Rating = 5/5 * Other worthy poems - The Peace of Wild Things / Wendell Berry - Thinking / Walter D. Wintle - Golden Retrievals / Mark Doty - Best Society / Phillip Larkin - Look at These / Helen Farish

  23. 4 out of 5

    Cat

    I love this book. It's not high-art poetry, just accessible beautiful poems that can bring added meaning to your day and help you when you're needing a boost. I love the format, and the author's added explanation of each poem. It's a beautiful, beautiful book.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Victoria Foote-Blackman

    Four stars rather than five or three. As other reviewers have noted in different ways, there is something a bit pat about the idea of consuming poems to just feel better, or for a quick fix. There is simply no panacea for all of us--in this tome or anywhere else--even taking into account the different woes that plague the human spirit, from the truly tragic to mere existential ennui. Nevertheless, this is a book that would make a perfect present for all but the very literate. For the poetry gun- Four stars rather than five or three. As other reviewers have noted in different ways, there is something a bit pat about the idea of consuming poems to just feel better, or for a quick fix. There is simply no panacea for all of us--in this tome or anywhere else--even taking into account the different woes that plague the human spirit, from the truly tragic to mere existential ennui. Nevertheless, this is a book that would make a perfect present for all but the very literate. For the poetry gun-shy among us, this small compendium is a friendly introduction to the ability of verse to capture feelings in distinctive and often resonant ways. Some of the poems are simply coy bandaids, the kind that come off the first time you run your hands in water. But other poems truly can remind us all that to be human is to suffer but also to celebrate. Locking arms with this reality can indeed help us "tote the weary load." Sieghart is like the poetry he has selected. Occasionally his advice--which appears in the left-hand page facing the poem--is placating and faintly patronizing; other times Sieghart hits the mark exactly, often in both insightful and stylish prose. (He does have the annoying habit of referring too often to his poetry pharmacies and interviews with unhappy clients, a bit like so many contemporary self-help books that are mostly a string of anecdotes about psychotherapists' patients. But there are pages where what he writes is better than the facing poem. I recommend this little book as a gift to any young person, high school or older, or to the perennial empaths you may know, and to those wallowing--rightly or wrongly--in the troughs of earthly vicissitude. They can take what they like and chuck the rest. And they'll be grateful to you.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Maria Tane

    Last year, Intelligence Squared hosted a wonderful discussion on the power of poetry, based on the release of this book, which I urge you to check out on YouTube. William Sieghart is joined by Jeannette Winterson, Helena Bonham Carter, Jason Isaacs, Tom Burke, and Sue Perkins for almost 2 hours of insightful exchanges and touching performances that I wished could have kept going on and on. I instantly became enamoured with the concept of this book and with what William Sieghart does, using poems Last year, Intelligence Squared hosted a wonderful discussion on the power of poetry, based on the release of this book, which I urge you to check out on YouTube. William Sieghart is joined by Jeannette Winterson, Helena Bonham Carter, Jason Isaacs, Tom Burke, and Sue Perkins for almost 2 hours of insightful exchanges and touching performances that I wished could have kept going on and on. I instantly became enamoured with the concept of this book and with what William Sieghart does, using poems as balms for the soul, rendering them accessible to everyone, and harnessing their ability to connect us with other, making us feel understood. For sure, it's a volume that I shall turn to when I need a prescription for my inner ailments. I shall conclude this with a quote by Alan Bennett that is included both in the book and in the conversation that I've mentioned before: The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special and particular to you. Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sue Cartwright

    This is a truly wonderful and medicinal book of poems so cleverly aligned to all manner of different moods and conditions. A helpful handbook for times when we feel stressed or anxious or low. It's what this book is for - to soothe and calm, to inspire and motivate, to lift and heal and restore. I haven't read every single poem yet but I have read many more than a few, and keep this beautiful linen coated book by my side for times when I need solace or inspiration. The things I especially love are This is a truly wonderful and medicinal book of poems so cleverly aligned to all manner of different moods and conditions. A helpful handbook for times when we feel stressed or anxious or low. It's what this book is for - to soothe and calm, to inspire and motivate, to lift and heal and restore. I haven't read every single poem yet but I have read many more than a few, and keep this beautiful linen coated book by my side for times when I need solace or inspiration. The things I especially love are guidance on 'how to read a poem' and how every condition - anxiety, inertia, self-recrimination, complacency and so on - comes not only with its own specially selected poem, but also with an overview of what that condition might mean to you with lovely ideas on how best to work through it. An example: For 'psychological scarring' - 'Although the Wind' by Izumi Shikibu translated by Jane Hirshfield with Mariko Aratani: Although the wind blows terribly here, the moonlight also leaks between the roof planks of this ruined house. The natural juxtaposition of darkness and light, love and pain - so poignant and beautiful, so simple yet powerful. A perfect remedy.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Frank Callaghan

    I started this anthology some time ago, and recently returned to it when I received some other volumes of poetry as Christmas gifts. This is an interesting collection, and in it, Sieghart uses poetry to illustrate how he sees poetry having healing properties. He uses it with people who have issues of almost any kind, maybe issues of love, loss, anxiety, depression and so on. I think his selection of poems to suit the need is generally effective, but of course it's difficult to find the singular I started this anthology some time ago, and recently returned to it when I received some other volumes of poetry as Christmas gifts. This is an interesting collection, and in it, Sieghart uses poetry to illustrate how he sees poetry having healing properties. He uses it with people who have issues of almost any kind, maybe issues of love, loss, anxiety, depression and so on. I think his selection of poems to suit the need is generally effective, but of course it's difficult to find the singular work that might be a panacea to somebody's mental or psychological condition. But I am sure, that as a generality, poetry can be a means of easing the mind and a way of finding spiritual healing. Overall the rang of issues he assesses is considerable, and the style and type of poetry diverse. I'm not entirely convinced that a particular poem can be a source of healing, but I am sure that reading verse can in itself be soothing to a troubled mind. For me, it was less a matter of applying poems to mental states, but more a matter of simply enjoying the diverse collection of poetry. A good book to keep by your side.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Francesca

    What first intrigued me to the book was the reinforcement of this idea that the power of words weaved into poetry can be healing. This narrative/concept established from the beginning I believe further deepened my appreciation /enjoyment of the collection as a breath of fresh air- in relation to expanding my understanding of poetry/ its various mediums. I loved the way the book was curated as the sections were organized to cover various topics of life. It was really nice to get a variety of poem What first intrigued me to the book was the reinforcement of this idea that the power of words weaved into poetry can be healing. This narrative/concept established from the beginning I believe further deepened my appreciation /enjoyment of the collection as a breath of fresh air- in relation to expanding my understanding of poetry/ its various mediums. I loved the way the book was curated as the sections were organized to cover various topics of life. It was really nice to get a variety of poems from different poets across historical periods. The idea that each “prescription” / “remedy” is made to read when you need to hear these words in relation to what you’re feeling or experiencing across is great for a point of reference. I think what made this more refreshing for me was the fact that context was given when prefacing each poem- as this made me better understand what a poet was trying to say. Evidently, the concept and it’s execution to make poetry more accessible to any reader is much appreciated. Moreover, I highly recommend this book as a compilation or starter pack to anyone who wants to explore the wonderful world of poetry.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Maria Novella

    The Poetry Pharmacy by William Sieghart is a collection of poems suitable for a lot of situations which might present in our lives: depression, anxiety, need of reassurance, stagnation, guilt, fear of the unknown, relationships that create all sort of problems, grief. Every one of us has encountered at least one of those situations in life. I found a lot of comfort in many of those poems, I even cried reading some of those, they really resonated with me. Reading Sieghart's introduction to every The Poetry Pharmacy by William Sieghart is a collection of poems suitable for a lot of situations which might present in our lives: depression, anxiety, need of reassurance, stagnation, guilt, fear of the unknown, relationships that create all sort of problems, grief. Every one of us has encountered at least one of those situations in life. I found a lot of comfort in many of those poems, I even cried reading some of those, they really resonated with me. Reading Sieghart's introduction to every poem is very important, and his words are equally beautiful and meaningful. It is a precious book to keep and to go back to when one needs to. Some of my favorite poems are: "Although the wind", by Izumi Shikibu; All That is Gold Does Not Glitter, by J.R.R. Tolkien; The Way It Is, by William Stafford; Everything is Going To Be All Right, by Derek Mahon; from My Brilliant Image by Hafez; The Guest House, by Rumi; The Ideal, by James Fenton; It happens all the time in heaven, by Hafez; Do Not Stand at my Grave and Weep, by Mary Elizabeth Frye; My Funeral by Wendy Cope.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Siobhán Mc Laughlin

    I have waited a LONG time for a book like this! A veritable poetry prescription pad, a compendium of healing words. I've been doing this on my poetry blog, consciously and subconsciously for a long time. I'm a firm believer that whatever emotional ailment you suffer from, there is a poem out there to understand it, transform it, even cure it. So too is the author here, William Sieghart. His affably eloquent and compassionate voice accompanies this selection of wonderful poems, narrating and expla I have waited a LONG time for a book like this! A veritable poetry prescription pad, a compendium of healing words. I've been doing this on my poetry blog, consciously and subconsciously for a long time. I'm a firm believer that whatever emotional ailment you suffer from, there is a poem out there to understand it, transform it, even cure it. So too is the author here, William Sieghart. His affably eloquent and compassionate voice accompanies this selection of wonderful poems, narrating and explaining each choice. Gathered herein are poems for heartbreak, grief, despair, existential ennui. My only gripe is that it's too short. Much too short! You could have a thousand page anthology on this subject easily!! I wanted to read more, even a few poems for each section. I could easily think of ones. For that sole reason, I have not given it a 5star rating. Maybe there is a volume II in the works (and III and IV and V...!) Hopefully.

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