Most of us speak in hallowed tones about bookshops, even if we visit them with less frequency these days. So many have closed, but perhaps there is some room for optimism. Our infatuation with the compromised convenience of Amazon (that great tax avoider) has waned and the promised digital publishing revolution has stalled, for now at least.
Relative poverty might have driven me pack to the library of late (Dunoon has a beautiful new library that overlooks the water from the re-developed Queens Hall) but still, the thrill of a bookshop, loaded with endless possibilities for adventure, remains on me.
Most of us love the feel of a book. The weight of it in our hands. The smell of new pages as they are turned. The investment in the narrative that is close to something called ownership.
The other day, I was privileged to do a poetry reading in the lovely Bookpoint, our local bookshop in Dunoon. It was a last minute invitation, intended to mark National Poetry day. The idea was to be there a couple of hours, hang about in the tea shop, to read some poems and interact with the punters. I am not the easiest at impromptu sociability- I never quite learnt the art of small talk. But we had poetry…
… and books.
In a lull between poems, I started to sketch out this poem. It is my small contribution to National Poetry Day;
Written in ‘Bookpoint, for ‘National poetry day’ 2018
So many books
Every spine like undrunk wine
Every page contagious
For words weigh nothing here
They are floating free
while I sup tea.
Perhaps two or three might land on me-
Like birds – or spores – or seeds,
For I am like soil in winter.
High on a shelf
sits poor Gandalf.
Atticus Finch is caught in a clinch
with Molly Bloom.
Tom Sawyer hides poor Jim
In the bottom drawer.
Moriarty invites Jack Kerouac
to party out back.
roams the moor no more
She drinks tea with me