Collected Poets Series, Nov. Edition

Wyn Cooper

This Thursday, the Collected Poets Series resumes its normal first-Thursday-of-the-month schedule with the readings of poets Wyn Cooper and Amy Dryansky.

Wyn Cooper has published three books of poems: The Country of Here Below, The Way Back, and Postcards from the Interior, as well as a chapbook, Secret Address. His new book of poems, Chaos is the New Calm, will be published by BOA in spring 2010.

Amy Dryansky’s first book, How I Got Lost So Close To Home, won the New England/New York award from Alice James Books. She’s been nominated for several Pushcart Prizes, awarded fellowships to the MacDowell Colony, Vermont Studio Center, Villa Montalvo and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. She’s also a former Associate at the Five College Women’s Studies Research Center at Mt. Holyoke College, where she looked at the impact of motherhood on the work of women poets.

For more information on this month’s poets, or a schedule of the upcoming events, please visit the Collected Poets website.

*

Last week’s reading with Baron and Jim and the student poets of the Mohawk Arts and Education Council was fantastic! The “Retirement Sale” at the bookshop began last week, so of course the store’s been completely deluged with customers. Door-to-door, wall-to-wall, it’s totally crazy, and I’m exhausted. Closing the doors at the end of each day is a major trial in itself. So I arrived at the reading early-ish, but later than I prefer, and more than a little tired.

But then the first student poet got up to read, and he snapped me out of it — how can someone so young already be so polished in his performance? All the student poets impressed, but Seth, he was my star pick, no question. I may be slightly biased by the fact that he used to be our neighbor. But I had no idea he would be one of the students reading that night, so it was a great surprise. Also great was to see how engaged he was by the readings of Jim and Baron, how utterly at attention he was — exactly the purpose of CPS, ensnaring the next generation of poetry-lovers!

The Bookshop & CPS, Special Edition.

This Thursday, Oct. 30th, at 7:30 pm, we’ll be hosting a special edition of the Collected Poets Series, a partial fundraiser for the Mohawk Arts and Education Council. Baron Wormser, former poet laureate of Maine, will read from his latest collection of new and selected poems, Scattered Chapters; Jim Schley will read from his newest book, As When, In Season; and the MAEC high school poets will read from their work. To read more about the Collected Poets Series and the featured poets, please visit the Collected Poets website.

Between visits of customers distraught over the closing of the bookshop, and the exhausting motions of commiseration such visits bring, I’ve been reading Baron Wormser’s The Poetry Life: Ten Stories. Each story is narrated by a different fictional persona, who in turn is writing about a different poet. The stories aren’t especially plot-driven, but explore how poetry, in even small ways, can affect a wide array of ordinary lives. It’s simply uncanny how expertly Wormser creates these personas, entire lives encapsulated in a few pages, and then incorporates the poets as well.

And from the second story, narrated by a retired pharmacist who’s discovered William Carlos Williams through a local college class, comes this excerpt, which feels apropos to this weeks-long-wake we’re experiencing at the bookshop. For every sincere, weeping customer, there’s another beating around the bush, wondering when the liquidation sale will begin…

…when Helen died I started to hate words because they were so general: “Well, we got to be with each other for a lot of years. I’m not complaining.” Or “We had our ups and downs but we hung in there together.” You get my drift. You’re always summarizing because no one wants to listen to the details. People are willing to listen some but not too much. They want an idea of what something was like that they can nod their heads to.

Of course, a defunct bookstore is not the equivalent of a dead wife, but there are parallels. If you don’t believe me, you should come on down and work a spell behind the counter…

And so it goes…

It’s official: the Jeffery Amherst Bookshop, my place of employment for the past 10+ years, will close its doors within the next few weeks. This economic climate became the perfect storm we couldn’t survive: with the confluence of the credit crunch (no financing for potential buyers), the changing paradigm of the book & textbook business, and of course the ever-present demons of B & N and Amazon… well, barring a White Knight arriving on the scene with a Big Fat Wad of Cold Hard Cash, we’re done.

Bookshop by tina1960.