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  • Writer's pictureThe Publishing Post

Poetry Bookshops

By Holly Presswell and Megan Burroughs

In light of celebrating our favourite poets and poems this April, we have collated a list of the UK’s indie bookshops specialising in poetry for your browsing pleasure.

The Poetry Bookshop, Hay-on-Wye

Occupying the streets of Hay-on-Wye since 1979, The Poetry Bookshop has proudly offered an impressive selection of second-hand and antiquarian poetry in the UK. Poetry lovers from all over the world come to visit this building that holds so many rare collections, just to have the chance to browse the shelves. 

Their collection ranges across African to Chinese poetry, poems for children and teens and so much more. The Guardian  states;  “the bookshop [is] for poetry enthusiasts… I’ve lost entire afternoons among the shelves.” If you don’t have a chance to visit this viral phenomenon, their website holds the same collection of poetry, available for delivery worldwide.  

The Emma Press, Birmingham 

The Emma Press is an independent publishing house that specialises in poetry, short fiction, essays and children’s books. The publishing house has won many awards since their opening in 2012, such as the Poetry Book Society Pamphlet Choice Award and the Michael Marks Award. They publish poetry books from all different cultures, such as Estonia and the Netherlands, children’s poetry and works from exciting international and emerging poets, it's impossible to get bored browsing their website! 

Their goal as a company is to make publishing as welcoming and accessible as possible for everyone. One of ways they do this is that many of their events are done over Zoom, allowing everyone to attend. They also hold weekly Friday online readings to create a community for their readers. The Emma Press is mainly available online, apart from the occasional popup visits to UK festivals. 

Seren, Wales 

Founded in Bridgend, Wales in 1981, is Seren. They are Wales’ leading independent literary publisher specialising in poetry, fiction and non-fiction. Many of their books have been either shortlisted or won major literary prizes across the UK. As a company, their aim is to bring Welsh literature, art and politics before a wider audience. 

They hold a magnificent collection from individual collections to pamphlets and anthologies to Welsh poetry. With worldwide shipping, there is always a way to enjoy these books no matter where you are. Seren holds many events across the country focusing on poetry for authors to celebrate their work. 

The Poetry Pharmacy, Shropshire

In the heart of Shropshire Hills, The Poetry Pharmacy is an independent bookshop offering art and gifts for every emotion. 

Deborah Alma, also known as the Emergency Poet, originally opened the doors to the back of a 1970s ambulance thirteen years ago, prescribing poetry at festivals, conferences, schools and more. The idea was to be a ‘vehicle for poetry’ to be delivered to those without easy access. Alma used poetry when working with those living with dementia, experiencing first-hand how deeply poetry affects everyone.

The team at The Poetry Pharmacy offer free one-on-one consultations on Friday afternoons in the old Victorian building, or you are welcome to make an appointment! These consultations are for the team to understand how you are feeling and what poetry you’ll best connect with. 

They also have the Dispensary Cafe, a space for you to sit and have a coffee to lift your spirits and read over your new poems, or to simply have a chat and relax! 

The team are passionate in everything they do. From holding poetry shows to their regular reading and writing workshops held above the shop in the Distillery space, where they also host open mic nights, wellbeing events and book launches. 

You may have seen their temporary pop-up in Lush on Oxford Street, which they have now announced will soon be home to a permanent space on its first floor.

Tell It Slant, Glasgow

Ellen and Mat opened up Tell It Slant as a pop-up in 2013, specialising in poetry in all forms. Whether you’re looking for rare or second-hand prints,  audio and visual poetry, they have it all inside Locavore Govanhill market. 

The shop is home to regular launches and readings in all languages, developing a further outreach in Scotland’s poetic endeavour. They are supporters of The Poetry Trust, which is host to a year-round programme of events both entertaining and educational. The Poetry Trust and Tell It Slant aim to make poetry and literature accessible to all, developing an outreach to schools and social welfare organisations. 

Tell It Slant is a community gem that is a must-visit if you find yourself in Glasgow!

Chener Books, East Dulwich

The story of Chener Books dates back to 1978 when John and Janet began selling second-hand books part-time. Despite specialising in poetry, there is a wide range of other literary forms to browse.  (The local history section is one to check out). 

A staple of the East Dulwich community, the independent store is home to a number of poetry workshops and events with an upcoming Zine workshop in May!

Unlike other bookstores, Chener Books has a distinct lack of gifts and memorabilia on offer, stacking their shelves with only books. The team encourages readers to take their time browsing and is always up for a chat and literary advice.



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