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

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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 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.


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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 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.

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

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ilse

    Any healthy man can go without food for two days--but not without poetry. Charles Baudelaire I liked the concept and premise of this variegated anthology a lot. A fine poem a day keeps the doctor away. As a believer in the power and the necessity of poetry, I cheer William Sieghart’s laudable mission to listen to people’s problems and administer a “prescription” in the shape of poem to those affected by what he classifies as “conditions” (mostly ‘spiritual ailments’ as there are, addiction, despai Any healthy man can go without food for two days--but not without poetry. Charles Baudelaire I liked the concept and premise of this variegated anthology a lot. A fine poem a day keeps the doctor away. As a believer in the power and the necessity of poetry, I cheer William Sieghart’s laudable mission to listen to people’s problems and administer a “prescription” in the shape of poem to those affected by what he classifies as “conditions” (mostly ‘spiritual ailments’ as there are, addiction, despair at the absurdity of the world, aging, the emotions connected to love, regret, self-recrimination, heartbreak, depression, isolation, various forms of fear, grief, lethargy, illness, worrying and many, many more - the array of human suffering is wide). As a devotee and promotor of poetry, having founded National Poetry Day in Britain, he understood that suffering is the access point to poetry for a lot of people and that such offers a momentum to introduce people to poetry as they are ready to open their ears, hearts and minds – and find poetry as a balm, a comfort, a smile, a succour, or simply a help to embrace one’s feelings in certain situations (infatuation, grief) The poems are presented in five categories, touching on mental and emotional wellbeing, motivations, self-image and self-acceptance, the world and other people, love and loss. (Heinrich Vogeler, Sehnsucht (Träumerei), 1900) Sieghart introduces each poem by a page-long meditation reflecting on what we might need if we are overwhelmed by certain emotions and why he selected that particular poem to come to an aid. As much as I liked reading his considerate reflections on the human condition, about one third in I reversed the order of reading and first read the poem before turning to his commentary, as his musings started to distract me from the poetry as well as taking away somewhat the joy of discovery and interpretation under my own steam. Having approached the book in two ways – first time dipping in and out, the second time reading it from cover to cover – I enjoyed dipping in the most, just opening this lovely, pretty volume and imbibing what the random two pages offered – admittedly, like the princess in Leskov’s story The Spirit of Madame de Genlis found out by opening a book at random trusting to find apposite wisdom ,there is also a risk in that. You might find yourself in an quite different mood than apposite for the poem, while the particular resonance of mood in tune with the poem is exactly what makes this anthology stand out from others bundling poems from another perspective or thematically (like the anthologies that previously found their way to my bookcase on love, death, the seasons, or simply ‘the most beautiful poems ever’). On the other hand, it is worth taking a chance, as I largely agree with Sieghart’s point that a poem as ‘a sudden splash of serenity and beauty can provide the impetus needed to turn the mood around’. For someone coming from a different linguistic area, not all but many of the poets called on were a first acquaintance and so fresh, while many naturally are household names to the English speaking audience this anthology is serving in the first place (Siegfried Sassoon, Wendell Berry, Philip Larkin, Maya Angelou, Mary Oliver, Seamus Heany, Derek Walcott, John Donne) – only the poems of Hafez, Rumi, Izumi Shikibu come in a translation. Despite the splendour of the greater part of the poems, the anthology left me slightly underwhelmed, because some of the poems tasted rather bland for me - not because of their content, which was often poignant enough, just their tone, cadence, musicality couldn’t stir me much aesthetically – I assume some more of them might grow on me on a next read. Having finished this collection, it was a great pleasure to listen to the touching testimony of William Sieghart about the project and the power of poetry, in which his love for the Persian poet Hafez shines through. Sieghart closes his anthology with an invitation to share with him the poems that mean the most to the reader (The Poetry Pharmacy Returns: More Prescriptions for Courage, Healing and Hope, a second volume of the poetry pharmacy meanwhile saw the light of the day and I look forward to read that too). Why not take inspiration from that call and bundle for yourself the poems that have been or are meaningful to you in some nice little notebook, a beacon to turn to when sailing stormy water? I will start tomorrow, what are you waiting for? Some of the poems that spoke most to me at the moment of reading – preferences might vary with the mood: Although the wind Although the wind blows terribly here, the moonlight also leaks between the roof planks of this ruined house. (Izumi Shikibu, translated by Jane Hirshfield) (Izumi Shikibu in a 1765 Kusazōshi by Komatsuken) The Trees The trees are coming into leaf Like something almost being said; The recent buds relax and spread, Their greenness is a kind of grief. Is it that they are born again And we grow old? No, they die too, Their yearly trick of looking new Is written down in rings of grain. Yet still the unresting castles thresh In fullgrown thickness every May. Last year is dead, they seem to say, Begin afresh, afresh, afresh. (Philip larkin) (David Hockney, 2020) Love is Not All (Sonnet XXX) Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain; Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink And rise and sink and rise and sink again; Love can not fill the thickened lung with breath, Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone; Yet many a man is making friends with death Even as I speak, for lack of love alone. It well may be that in a difficult hour, Pinned down by pain and moaning for release, Or nagged by want past resolution's power, I might be driven to sell your love for peace, Or trade the memory of this night for food. It well may be. I do not think I would. (Edna St. Vincent Millay) (Gabriel Pachecho) The Present Much has been said about being in the present. It’s the place to be, according to the gurus, like the latest club on the downtown scene, but no one, it seems, is able to give you directions. It doesn’t seem desirable or even possible to wake up every morning and begin leaping from one second into the next until you fall exhausted back into bed. Plus, there’d be no past with so many scenes to savor and regret, and no future, the place you will die but not before flying around with a jet-pack. The trouble with the present is that it’s always in a state of vanishing. Take the second it takes to end this sentence with a period––already gone. What about the moment that exists between banging your thumb with a hammer and realizing you are in a whole lot of pain? What about the one that occurs after you hear the punch line but before you get the joke? Is that where the wise men want us to live in that intervening tick, the tiny slot that occurs after you have spent hours searching downtown for that new club and just before you give up and head back home? (Billy Collins)

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    These are Ilse's reviews, and they so inspired me I bought the first volume at once, before I knew she'd prescribed for me a different book altogether. https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...? and that of The Poetry Pharmacy Returns: More Prescriptions for Courage, Healing and Hope https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... 💖 I've always believed in the power of poetry to explain people to themselves. William Sieghart's poetry project began when he posted a beloved poem around London in places it could These are Ilse's reviews, and they so inspired me I bought the first volume at once, before I knew she'd prescribed for me a different book altogether. https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...? and that of The Poetry Pharmacy Returns: More Prescriptions for Courage, Healing and Hope https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... 💖 I've always believed in the power of poetry to explain people to themselves. William Sieghart's poetry project began when he posted a beloved poem around London in places it could be read from buses and under bridges. From there it progressed to, after lectures on his own poetry anthology, sitting one-on-one with members of the audience, speaking briefly and "prescribing" specific poems for them. I realized we were onto something...Being there with the right words for someone in that moment-- The project flourished and grew. The full history is in the book (which in the U.S. in e-book form is entitled The Poetry Remedy). I must have listened, over the past few years, to nearly a thousand people's problems...Seeing the difference the right poem can make written on that many faces has given me confidence in poetry's power to change lives. The book is divided into five sections: Mental and Emotional Well-Being, Motivations, Self-Image and Self-Acceptance, The World and Other People, and Love and Loss. The divisions, for me, were a distraction but not a reduction since you can read them once as I did, many times or not at all. Not so with the seventy-four conditions, each of which is printed above its poem. For example, Elizabeth Bishop's One Art is placed in Self-Image and Self-Acceptance. In this heart it mainly lives in Love and Loss, though it spends time in Mental and Emotional Well-Being as well as three others. Of the seventy-four conditions, the one for which he prescribes it is Letting Go. It makes sense but so do dozens of others. But it had to be done somehow, there are no prescriptions without conditions. So I learned to stop trying to rewrite what isn't mine: to Let Go. Because poetry. And there are some superb poems, for me some new ones, old friends and a few regulars. There's a lovely variety of poetry modern and traditional, which includes works by Phillip Larkin, Maya Angelou, Rumi, William Carlos Williams, Whitman, Carver, cummings, Millay, Mary Oliver, Berry, Keats and Cope. Poetry is soul food so of course some will taste better on your tongue than others. What I love best about a well-curated poetry collection created from the work of diverse writers -- which this is -- is what the poems gain from being under the same roof so to speak. In addition to love of the poems themselves, I so enjoy the special synergy of how they interact with one another, with their neighbors and across the pages, assenting, echoing, arguing. I love listening in on their conversations. I didn't choose them to illustrate my criticisms, but these two poems are placed in different Divisions: Collins in Self-Image and Self-Acceptance, Doty in Motivations. Note the conditions. It's time for these two poems I love to speak to me, to you and to one another. condition: guilt at not living in the moment The Present Billy Collins Much has been said about being in the present. It's the place to be, according to the gurus, like the latest club on the downtown scene, but no one, it seems, is able to give you directions. It doesn't seem desirable or even possible to wake up every morning and begin leaping from one second into the next until you fall exhausted back into bed. Plus, there'd be no past, with so many scenes to savor and regret, and no future, the place you will die but not before flying around with a jet-pack. The trouble with the present is that it's always in a state of vanishing. Take the second it takes to end this sentence with a period--already gone. What about the moment that exists between banging your thumb with a hammer and realizing you are in a whole lot of pain? What about the one that occurs after you hear the punch line but before you get the joke? Is that where the wise men want us to live. In that intervening tick, the tiny slot that occurs after you have spent hours searching downtown for that new club and just before you give up and head back home. ⭐ condition: failure to live in the moment Golden Retrievals Mark Doty Fetch? Balls and sticks capture my attention seconds at a time. Catch? I don't think so. Bunny, tumbling leaf, a squirrel who's -- oh joy -- actually scared. Sniff the wind, then. I'm off again: muck, pond, ditch, residue of any thrillingly dead thing. And you? Either you're sunk in the past, half our walk, thinking of what you never can bring back, or else you're off in some fog concerning -- tomorrow, is that what you call it? My work: to unsnare time's warp (and woof!), retrieving, my haze-headed friend, you. This shining bark, a Zen master's bronzy gong, calls you here, entirely, now: bow-wow, bow-wow, bow-wow.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Imogen Kathleen

    This book came to me at exactly the right time. The perfect lockdown read. Offering words of wisdom for ailments from anxiety to unrequited love, this fabulous little collection is perfect for those who aren't too sure where to begin with poetry. I loved the notes from Sieghart about each poem, and I loved that I got to read a range of poets that I had heard of but never really explored. Full RTC, but I am about to gift this book to so many people. This book came to me at exactly the right time. The perfect lockdown read. Offering words of wisdom for ailments from anxiety to unrequited love, this fabulous little collection is perfect for those who aren't too sure where to begin with poetry. I loved the notes from Sieghart about each poem, and I loved that I got to read a range of poets that I had heard of but never really explored. Full RTC, but I am about to gift this book to so many people.

  4. 4 out of 5

    ~Jo~

    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.

  5. 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.

  6. 4 out of 5

    tee

    peaceful girl summer <3 this book was a healing experience.... growth! happiness!! clarity!!! i knew i’d love this because i very often treat poetry as my pharmacy so i appreciated the concept of this (of course) but as a bonus this had the inclusions of both my favorite poets john keats and mary oliver among the many others that i either already love or just discovered. will go back to these pages so often with a big heart, big energy, big love :-) “a thing of beauty is a joy for ever / its lov peaceful girl summer <3 this book was a healing experience.... growth! happiness!! clarity!!! i knew i’d love this because i very often treat poetry as my pharmacy so i appreciated the concept of this (of course) but as a bonus this had the inclusions of both my favorite poets john keats and mary oliver among the many others that i either already love or just discovered. will go back to these pages so often with a big heart, big energy, big love :-) “a thing of beauty is a joy for ever / its loveliness increases; it will never / pass into nothingness; but still will keep / a bower quiet for us, and a sleep / full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing / therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing / a flowery band to bind us to the earth / spite of despondence [...]” !!

  7. 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.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Preety Virdi

    4.5 Stars! This is the second audio book I have ever listened to. The first was We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda ngozi Adichie. Evening walks had me trying this out, in favour of repetitive lyrics, or rhythmic footsteps and labored breathing. It seems to work for me. When I first started listening to The Poetry Pharmacy, I was blown away, and wanted to open my Goodreads profile just to rate it before I had even finished it. I absolutely loved it! In a way, I am glad I didn’t. To capture 4.5 Stars! This is the second audio book I have ever listened to. The first was We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda ngozi Adichie. Evening walks had me trying this out, in favour of repetitive lyrics, or rhythmic footsteps and labored breathing. It seems to work for me. When I first started listening to The Poetry Pharmacy, I was blown away, and wanted to open my Goodreads profile just to rate it before I had even finished it. I absolutely loved it! In a way, I am glad I didn’t. To capture the true depth of something, sometimes we need to immerse ourselves in it fully, get the whole picture and not just that which appeals to us most. Having said that, it was still amazing, albeit less applicable to me towards the end. William Sieghart uses the power of poetry to heal our wounds, to quieten our minds, to alleviate our pain and to diminish our woes. He has collected poems from well known poets such as the 13th and 14th Century Rumi and Hafez, to famous poems such as Maya Angelou’s “And Still, I Rise” and “If” by Rudyard Kipling, to ‘mere’ (but not so mere) two liners, on to anthems and prose to come up with a remedy for what he considers the main psychological ailments suffered by the masses. There is something in this pharmacy that will appeal to every one of us, of that, I am sure. He considers people of all ages, which is why, not every poem will appeal to one person alone. The first 45 minutes had me smiling ear-to-ear as I walked. That could have been due to the fact that William Sieghart tugged at my heartstrings by including “You’ll Never Walk Alone” by Oscar Hammerstein II (the anthem of Liverpool Football Club) or it could have been due to the fact that they really did make ‘light’ of ‘heavy’ situations. His method was: stating the condition, and then prescribing the poem, by first explaining it in his own words and then reading it out loud. The only reason I have rated it 4.5 instead of 5 is because a lot of the conditions seemed repetitive. Also, as much as these were considered the main conditions, I find that a number of ‘critical psychological conditions’ have been left out. Credit to him though; he asked for suggestions at the very end of the book and he tried to be inclusive as well. To be fair, I don’t think it was possible to capture it all! Here are some gems I discovered (there are a lot more, but including them would just mean re-writing the book in the review): The Fist, By Derek Walcott The fist clenched round my heart loosens a little, and I gasp brightness; but it tightens again. When have I ever not loved the pain of love? But this has moved past love to mania. This has the strong clench of the madman, this is gripping the ledge of unreason, before plunging howling into the abyss. Hold hard then, heart. This way at least you live. “Although the wind ...”, By Izumi Shikibu, Translated by Jane Hirshfield Although the wind blows terribly here, the moonlight also leaks between the roof planks of this ruined house. The Price, By Stuart Henson Sometimes it catches when the fumes rise up among the throbbing lights of cars, or as you look away to dodge eye-contact with your own reflection in the carriage-glass; or in a waiting-room a face reminds you that the colour supplements have lied and some have pleasure and some pay the price. Then all the small securities you built about your house, your desk, your calendar are blown like straws; and momentarily, as if a scent of ivy or the earth had opened up a childhood door, you pause, to take the measure of what might have been against the kind of life you settled for. Burlap Sack, By Jane Hirshfield A person is full of sorrow the way a burlap sack is full of stones or sand. We say, "Hand me the sack," but we get the weight. Heavier if left out in the rain. To think that the stones or sand are the self is an error. To think that grief is the self is an error. Self carries grief as a pack mule carries the side bags, being careful between the trees to leave extra room. The mule is not the load of ropes and nails and axes. The self is not the miner nore builder nore driver. What would it be to take the bride and leave behind the heavy dowry? To let the thin-ribbed mule browse in tall grasses, its long ears waggling like the tails of two happy dogs?

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mark

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

  10. 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.

  11. 5 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.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Liv Chalmers

    I am so grateful for this book, you would not believe. This book got me out of a two year plus reading slump, that was ruled by my depression. Sieghart's short but sweet entries alongside these poems were almost my saviour. The whole collection was so real and relatable which only made you see yourself in these little moments of self help. It was a pat on the back without even knowing it. I would recommend this to any poetry lovers who are struggling; Sieghart has a remedy for you all. These rec I am so grateful for this book, you would not believe. This book got me out of a two year plus reading slump, that was ruled by my depression. Sieghart's short but sweet entries alongside these poems were almost my saviour. The whole collection was so real and relatable which only made you see yourself in these little moments of self help. It was a pat on the back without even knowing it. I would recommend this to any poetry lovers who are struggling; Sieghart has a remedy for you all. These recommendations and moments of clarity are what I needed to get back onto my road of recovery, and being able to read for pleasure again has really made me realise that I am getting there again.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mahmoud Ayman

    A light read and a great start for the year. I really loved how each poem is linked to a certain emotion and how they are used to help people find comfort/meaning in whatever they are going through. Some repetition was there, at least I felt like it, but overall it's a great and easy read. A light read and a great start for the year. I really loved how each poem is linked to a certain emotion and how they are used to help people find comfort/meaning in whatever they are going through. Some repetition was there, at least I felt like it, but overall it's a great and easy read.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Fern Adams

    William Sieghart prescribes poetry to people for the mood or problem they are facing, this is a collection of some of his most commonly prescribed ones. I really liked the idea behind this. Also useful was the introduction to each poem beforehand giving background information to both the poem and issue it is addressing. One to definitely dip in and out of.

  15. 5 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.

  16. 4 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.

  17. 5 out of 5

    seren✨ starrybooker

    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.

  18. 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.”

  19. 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.

  20. 4 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.

  21. 4 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.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ophelinha

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

  23. 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. 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.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mennah

    This was one of those ‘love-at-first-Goodreads-search/sight’ books! The minute I saw it on the bookshelf and I read the title.. I know I was going to be hooked! It’s one of the best curated poetry collections I have come across! And what is even more invigorating is that there is another book - the poetry pharmacy returns! If you are looking for a book that can identify with how you feel and help you define your condition.. and not only that, then have it (the book) offer you a piece of poetry t This was one of those ‘love-at-first-Goodreads-search/sight’ books! The minute I saw it on the bookshelf and I read the title.. I know I was going to be hooked! It’s one of the best curated poetry collections I have come across! And what is even more invigorating is that there is another book - the poetry pharmacy returns! If you are looking for a book that can identify with how you feel and help you define your condition.. and not only that, then have it (the book) offer you a piece of poetry to suit your state of mind.. I mean.. HOOLLLDD UP!!! Also, it’s a great way to meet new poets and to find out about their work. I have fallen in love (all over again) with Maya Angelou and her poem ‘phenomenal woman’: “I say, It’s in the reach of my arms, The span of my hips, The stride of my step, The curl of my hips, I’m a woman Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, That’s me” A new found love for me, would be Wendy Cope’s work. I can’t wait to buy my first book with a collection of her poems and throw myself into her humor and amazing style of writing. There are around 3 of her poems in this book, however ‘Defining the problem’ sincerely hit me where it matters: “I can’t forgive you. Even if I could, You wouldn’t pardon me for seeing through you. And yet I cannot cure myself of love For what I thought you were before I knew you.”

  25. 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.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Menna Alashker

    The poem selection was excellent, and most of the time it fits the diagnosis perfectly and you could really feel yourself resonating with the poem. My only issue, and that's why it didn't get the 5 stars, are the words that introduced each poem were somewhat repetitive which was a bit annoying. Other than that, I enjoyed the poems very very much and this feels like a great segway into poetry if you are interested in going down that road. Something I also noticed, apart from the great variety of The poem selection was excellent, and most of the time it fits the diagnosis perfectly and you could really feel yourself resonating with the poem. My only issue, and that's why it didn't get the 5 stars, are the words that introduced each poem were somewhat repetitive which was a bit annoying. Other than that, I enjoyed the poems very very much and this feels like a great segway into poetry if you are interested in going down that road. Something I also noticed, apart from the great variety of poetry here, is that the poems were mostly easy to grasp and understand. They were also "underground" if I may use that word, not really the poetry that we're usually exposed to and not bulky like say, Shakespeare's sonnets. This sheds new light on poetry, especially to people who know nothing about the fact that poetry is essentially condensed language made to convey a thought or an emotion. This made me very happy to read and it felt special at times because I would have never found those poems if I hadn't read this.

  27. 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 :)

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sam Farley

    As someone who had never previously appreciated poetry, this book was the perfect induction. Sieghart even briefly covers how to read poetry to get the most out of the book, before delving into his ‘prescriptions’ to alleviate various mental woes (anxiety, loneliness, heartbreak, bereavement, etc.) I didn’t enjoy (or fully understand) every poem, but there were plenty of wholesome works worthy of re-reading, or passing on to others, at times of sorrow. I will be buying the sequel.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sandeep Barua

    We all have a book that we hold very fondly. This is the one for me. It was an impulsive buy while I was visiting the famed 'Shakespeare and Company' bookstore just a few steps from the Seine, Notre Dame in Paris. I took it to gift somebody. Eventually, the person moved on, but the book stayed with me. Within its pages are short poems by Tolkien, Kipling, Larkin, Keats, Rumi, and others. Even more than the timeless poems, I feel the commentary of the author on each of them is exquisite - each wor We all have a book that we hold very fondly. This is the one for me. It was an impulsive buy while I was visiting the famed 'Shakespeare and Company' bookstore just a few steps from the Seine, Notre Dame in Paris. I took it to gift somebody. Eventually, the person moved on, but the book stayed with me. Within its pages are short poems by Tolkien, Kipling, Larkin, Keats, Rumi, and others. Even more than the timeless poems, I feel the commentary of the author on each of them is exquisite - each word written with such flourish and empathy. There is a useful chapter at the beginning called "How to read a poem." I thought it is particularly helpful for somebody like me who is new to this genre. This isn't a book that can be declared finished. The lines unravel themselves bit by bit as we keep coming back. But each time I open a page, I would find something comforting in it.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kirsty

    A very precious anthology that everyone should own. When things aren’t going to plan I’m a natural consumer of poetry but of course there is a poem to match every mood but perhaps poetry is at it best when it’s something complex bothering us.

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