Monday, July 29, 2013

I Visited the "Oldest All Poetry Book Shop in America"

Harvard Square in Cambridge is one of the places I love to visit most around Boston. I didn't realize how lucky I was when I first moved here and secured a position at a firm in the office building attached to The Charles Hotel. I had an office that overlooked The Kennedy School of Government and would sit at my desk chewing away at a pen watching suits pass through the revered building's doors. It made me happy to be in the midst of so many interesting people. The crowded news stands, savory smells wafting out of the myriad of diverse restaurants, hustle and bustle of the T stop, and eclectic bookstores ruined me. Imagine my sadness when a couple years later I had to move forty minutes outside of Boston, where the deer and the antelope play.

The point of this post is that after years of visiting Harvard Square, and never finding the Grolier Poetry Book Shop open, two weeks ago I finally did. I'd dropped into the Harvard Bookstore to check out the Remainders table and on the way out noticed a sandwich board (see above) pointing around the corner. With only fifteen minutes to spare before an appointment, I scrambled to finally see the inside of the "oldest all poetry book store in America."

It was hot that day, like fry-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk-hot. I remember stopping abruptly in front of the poetry bookshop and hesitating for a minute. In all my wierdness, I felt my self-conscious self stirring inside, because I don't know about you, but being around these uber intellectual people can be intimidating. My mind invented all kinds of scenarios and none of them were reassuring. Then I tried to open the door. I immediately thought the bookshop was closed when the really, really old (some might call antique) door knob wouldn't open. It wasn't one you turn, but the kind that opens when you press down on a lever with your thumb. Hard. The heavy door finally opened after a few tries, when the slight woman working inside opened it for me. Apparently, the door knob "sometimes" gets stuck, she told me, when she stepped aside to let me through. Maybe you should think about getting that fixed, I thought, more out of embarrassment than frustration.

Any anxious feelings I had completely dissolved the minute I stepped inside the shoe-box size bookshop. Its breath was of dusty, worn pages and its interior was mildly cool and hazy with sunlight spilling in through its dusty, old window. I fell in love. The shelves were organized by geographic region and displayed titles and authors completely unknown to me.

I gravitated to the shelf lined with Latino writers and brought home three titles: a collection of poems by Cordelia Candelaria, OJO DE LA CUEVA, another by Américo Paredes, BETWEEN TWO WORLDS, and INFINITE DIVISIONS: An Anthology of Chicana Literature. I'm happy with my selections and am learning about the arduous lives Spanish-Mexican-indigenous women endured around the time of the Mexican-American War

I'm due back in Harvard Square this afternoon for another appointment. This time I'll be dropping into another bookstore I've never visited, only because I've been too lazy to walk the extra five minutes up Mass Ave. Revolution Books it's called.

Let's see what I find inside. :-)

Have missed blogging and chatting with you all. Life's settled down a bit now that summer school's over. Easing back in to normalcy, whatever that means. It felt good to take a time-out.

Have a great week, my friends!