You might have thought a dose of antibiotics or a bandage would be the traditional cure if you were feeling under the weather.
But if you delved inside Deborah Alma’s medical armoury, you would be more likely to find a soothing stanza or two.
The self-styled ‘emergency poet’ rolls up to weddings and festivals in her ambulance to offer the ‘world’s first mobile poetic first aid service’.
‘I don’t think anyone else does this – I am unique,’ the 50-year-old said. ‘I worked as a teaching assistant when my children were young and used poetry to communicate with people suffering dementia.
‘This was a fun way of bringing all my skills together.’
Ms Alma, who has an MA in creative writing, was inspired to start dispensing verse after she came across an old ambulance on eBay.
The poet, from Ludlow, Shropshire, quizzes ‘patients’ about their troubles and their reading habits, before recommending a poem from an anthology she has compiled.
‘At first, I thought I’d make them up on the spot, but the consultation takes about ten minutes and can be quite intense,’ she said.
In a tented area attached to the ambulance is the Cold Comfort Pharmacy, where a nurse – or Ms Alma’s poet partner, James Sheard – hands out poems in pill bottles for different ailments.
She sees her service as a piece of theatre but is constantly surprised at how seriously people take it. ‘They just lie down and open up. It’s often heavy stuff,’ she explained.
‘You have to be careful that you do give them the right poem because words are powerful.
‘The right poem is almost like one person putting an arm around the other.’
Her upcoming appointments include the Birmingham Literature Festival in October.
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22 June 2014 | 11:30 pm – Source: metro.co.uk