I'm an independent antiquarian bookseller, have been for some 30 years.
Just finished writing my memoirs. Also a published writer, lots of
articles, columns but no book yet. I'm doing some writing and filming
for cable tv presently and supporting poetry here in Kingston.
"Why does bookselling fit into these poetic categories? I've sold
for over thirty years, or rather, guarded and protected those chapbooks
which have come my way, often wondering if they would find new homes in my
lifetime. Occasionally someone knocks on the door for an old Canadian poet,
hoarded by me. Keeping seemingly forgotten names alive till they come back 'in'
again is the major reason I became an antiquarian.
Fortunately I've seen this happen in the broad spectrum, several times.
Of course Auden is a good example. Though certainly not actually
forgotten (how could he be?), he resurged enormously after Two Weddings And A
Funeral. I have about ten chapbook poets, more or less, still waiting on the
shelf, along with some actually bound sorts and of
course, blush, Edgar A. Guest, because people STILL read him, (whether
or not we think they should). He meets a need. I try to draw the line at
Rod Mckuen ( Don't think I spelled him right but he's not to hand) and
Gibran but what can you do? Popular poetic tastes are not necessarily
what we would like them to be but these verses still seem to speak to
people. What can you do? All this to say, being a bookseller is another
of those 'guardian at the gates' things, at least an out of print
bookseller. What do you keep alive? What, for lack of shelf space, do
you let die? Hopefully that second choice, that oblivion, has been
earned during the writer's lifetime. Books that never should've been.
Making these decisions from a historic rather than a financial
perspective, is the point of the occupation. "
1. POETRY BOOKSELLER