Stop number 3 on our Boston Poetry Scavenger Hunt is the Grolier Poetry Shop in Cambridge, which lays claim to being the oldest continuously operating book shop devoted exclusively to poetry. If you are tuning in for the first time, the virtual Boston Poetry Scavenger hunt is my version of a poetry scavenger hunt held in the Washington D.C. area by poet and friend Meg Eden to celebrate the upcoming release of her new chapbook of poetry – A Week with Beijing. She encouraged us to host one in our own city, and I decided to host mine on Illustrated Poetry and take everyone along to visit some poetry-historical (my new word) sites in and around Boston.
The shop, started in 1927, is tiny – a single room that is not much bigger than an oversize office – with wall to ceiling shelves full of books of poetry. The picture above gives you an idea of the density of the poetry in this place. The shop was started by two independently wealthy Bostonians and functioned more as a social club – the original owners not being terribly concerned about sales, theft, or revenue. Not surprisingly, they ran the place at a loss – which didn’t bother them (must be nice to be independently wealthy) – but did bother subsequent owners! The business was sold a decade ago to the poet and professor Ifeany Menkiti and is still a center of poetry-related events and readings. During my visit to Grolier I picked up a copy of Fits of Concision – collected poems of six or fewer lines by X.J. Kennedy, which I am looking forward to reading.
And inside today’s envelope – an amazing poem by Liane Ellison Norman –