Saturday, January 19, 2008

Second-Hand Poetry

A few days ago, I met my friend Martin over lunch to plan a conference (work related, nothing to do with poetry), and on the way back I passed a second-hand bookshop. I went in to find shelves of poetry collections, and I bought (the whole lot for under £10, all in good condition):

Selected Poems – Robert Lowell
Complete Poems – Marianne Moore
Selected Poems – Paul Celan (translated by Michael Hamburger)

And there were other bargains – I am now kicking myself for not buying a hardback first edition (it looked as if it had never been opened) of Orpheus, Don Paterson’s versions of Rilke, for two-thirds of the price of a new paperback.

The guy behind the counter glanced at what I’d handed him and said, “Aye, it doesn’t take long for the good poetry to get snapped up…”

*

On an unrelated subject, some interesting thoughts in the comments box of my TS Eliot Prize entry – the last few posts – on how wide-open the gatekeepers of the poetry world leave their doors. On Monday, I plan to pick up on one item from that discussion and make a new post. Today, off work, I need to press on with a poem, which could net me £5,000 if the judges are favourable. Or could lose me £5 or so if they aren’t.

3 comments:

Dick said...

I wish I could think of a single second hand bookshop in my general locale in which that observation would be made!

Dave said...

That Celan volume is one of my favorites. Hope you like it.

Rob said...

The comment by the bookseller made me think too. Perhaps people really want poetry!

I haven't had a chance to open the Celan yet, but I'm looking forward to it.