We love a bright, airy bookshop with natural light streaming in big windows. Maybe there’s a cozy café tucked into a corner or up a winding staircase to a second story lined with books and smelling of fresh coffee.
But we have also been known to fall in love with a moodier bookshop — one that’s seen books pass in and out of its shelves for decades. Perhaps there are some secrets tucked among the weathered spines and bits of paper with the old-book smell wafting in the air.
This poem by American poet Dick Allen evokes the latter. It invites a leisurely stroll among the shelves of a shop with history and a seasoned bookseller.
Dick Allen was born in 1937 and grew up near the Adirondack Mountains in New York. His work was influenced by Ralph Waldo Emerson and Robert Frost. He was one of the founders of a movement started in the 1980s called Expansive poetry, which he described as ‘narrative, dramatic and sometimes lyric poetry of the late 20th Century that conveys significant non-Confessional observations, thoughts and feelings about the world outside the Self and about the Self’s various relationships with this outer world.’ In 1984, he was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry for his book Overnight in the Guest House of the Mystic. He also won the Robert Frost Prize, Hart Crane Poetry Prize, and Pushcart Prize, among others. Read more of his poems at New Criterion and Poetry Foundation.
Top image courtesy of Hatice Yardım/Unsplash.
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