Poetry Bookstores Around the World!

IMG_0373I knew that Hay-on-Wye, Wales, was known as the “Town of Books,” and that I, naturally, had to visit such a place. What I didn’t know that it was also the home of another dedicated poetry bookshop – some of you may remember I made a stop at the Grolier Poetry Book Shop in Cambridge during my Poetry Scavenger Hunt late last year.

So, map in hand, I went in search of The Poetry Bookshop. I meant to take a photograph inside to show you all the wonder of floor to ceiling books of poetry (mostly second hand with a smattering of new), but I was so excited upon entering and seeing the potential poetry treasures that awaited me that I completely forgot. This is a representative photograph taken in another nearby bookshop.

IMG_0377Due to budgetary and luggage weight concerns, I had to be very discerning about the number of books I bought. After much deliberation, I decide to buy an anthology of WWII poets for £5. I have always loved Wilfred Owen’s poems and from that interest, I’ve learned a fair bit about WWI poets over the years. Standing in the shop deliberating over my armful of candidate books, I realized that I knew very little about WWII poets and poetry and this fact made the decision for me.

IMG_0661I’m looking forward to filling this gap in my poetry knowledge and discovering some new poets! I had picked out another anthology from the bargain cellar (an actual converted stone cellar, complete with dankness and arch-shaped niches, now filled with books) that was marked for 50p – but when I didn’t have exact change, the shopkeeper threw it in for free. Made the deal even sweeter! If you are ever in Hay-on-Wye, I do recommend stopping by The Poetry Bookshop and foraging for your own poetry treasure!

IMG_0659

This one was the cherry on top of some poetry dessert!

 

 

16 comments

  1. I don’t know if you’ve come across it, but there’s a short story/novella by Dan Simmons called “The Great Lover” that I think you’d like very much. I don’t want to give too much away and ruin a first reading (and I wouldn’t read the foreword until after reading the stories), but WWI poetry is both the heart and the framework of the story. I can’t recommend it strongly enough. The other stories in the book are also well worth a read; “Entropy’s Bed at Midnight” ranks among my ten favorites by anyone.

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    1. It was great! There are 28 bookstores in Hay-on-Wye (apparently down from 42 before the recession hit, one shopkeeper told us) and we visited 10 of them. I’m a marathon bookstore go-er, but even I was completely booked out by the end of it! But we definitely saw folks who looked like they were hoping to hit all 28! I hope you are doing well, Jackie, and enjoying your summer!

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  2. I’m sorry about the icon next to my name. I didn’t choose it; i guess WordPress did. I’m sorry if it distresses anyone as it does me.

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  3. Ps – that icon next to my name was supplied by the software here. I don’t like it and didn’t know that would happen. Sorry if anyone else finds it distressing like me.

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    1. Your icon is appearing to me as a grey and white outline of a person – I hope that is what you are seeing, otherwise I am not sure what is happening. This generic person outline is some kind of default for WordPress. I think if you make a user account with WordPress it will let you put a custom picture there.

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  4. Your war poems book looks interesting. Will be curious to hear what you discover. I like your photo of books. Something wonderful and comforting to me about an old book. 😊

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    1. I understand your concern about coming home with luggage weighed down with books. Ironically in my case, about 20 or so years ago on a work trip to Boston I discovered, at that time, that books showed up in bookstores back East faster than here in the West. There was no such thing as Kindles or Nooks then and I don’t use my Kindle for reading anyway. So, I took home a suitcase stuffed with books – and not only that – but hardbacks! A co-worker was kind enough to allow me to pack some of my clothes in his suitcase since he had been with me on our shopping expedition so he knew firsthand what he had gotten himself into.

      Thanks for the fond memory.

      When bookstores were literally blocks from each other in some neighborhoods here (or 3 in a shopping center and then one next door to the shopping center and one across the street from the one that was next to the shopping center) back in the day, we did have one bookstore where only seven titles were offered for sale at any given time. Sometimes that meant only 7 books in the store. I think the owner was wealthy enough that he didn’t care whether he sold any inventory or not. I guess it was his form of goodreads (although I’ve only heard about goodreads.)

      I have bookmarks for just about all the bookstores I’ve been to – including that one in Boston – even if they’ve closed – it’s a journal in a way.

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      1. I am so glad you enjoyed it! It was so tempting to buy so many more books – I would walk through each bookstore (there are 28 active bookstores in Hay-on-Wye and we visited 10 of them in one day) and start off like a kid in a candy store, gathering interesting ones in my arms. I would then have to talk myself down to one or none per store. My grand total was 5 books, including the two poetry ones – so not bad. I wished my traveling companion was as accommodating as your co-worker – but alas, she had to deal with her own luggage space issues.

        I love visiting independent bookstores in towns I travel to – each one has such a unique character! I like that you saved the bookmarks, something to remember them by, especially the ones that have closed. Thank you for sharing that memory – the idea of a bookstore with only 7 books is so intriguing! The complete opposite of Hay-on-Wye bookstores, were it is quantity!

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    2. I feel the same way about books – the feel, the smell, the look of an old book is like coming home. I’ve read a few poems out of the WWII book and so far they have been good. Sadly, I already see too many that are marked “killed in action” next to the author’s name.

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