In 1998, Chris Prince, at his sister’s insistence, came on a road trip to Hay to sell some of his ever-increasing book collection. He ended up staying to ‘live the bibliophile’s dream’ and own a bookshop.
Chris and I met whilst I was on holiday in Hay in 1999. He read Anselm Hollo’s poems to me when I told him I didn’t like or understand poetry. I was won over, and we soon set up home – and the bookshop – at the Ice House on Brook Street.
We are delighted that Anselm Hollo’s daughter, Kaarina, has given us permission to show display one of our favourite poems from his collection, Sojourners Microcosms, in the window of the new shop.
This weekend we move The Poetry Bookshop – one of the oldest bookshops in Hay – to larger and more central premises in the Town of Books. From Saturday, The Poetry Bookshop will be located in a prominent position next to Hay Clocktower.
Dedicated entirely to poetry, The Poetry Bookshop has been selling new, used, secondhand & antiquarian books for nearly 40 years. It is the longest-running bookshop of its kind in the UK. The new space will allow us to also hold readings and events, and it will have more shelf space.
The shop was opened in 1979 by the poets Anne Stevenson & Michael Farley in an outbuilding of Frank Lewis House in Hay-on-Wye. Alan Halsey introduced the idea of also selling secondhand books, and in 1981 it moved to a new location on Broad Street.
Chris and I invite you to join us this Saturday, 7th October, for free readings and events during the day in the new shop at The Pavement, 2 Lion Street, Hay-on-Wye. Look out for Anselm Hollo’s poems in the window!
2pm. The Strings of Song. It’s the 50th anniversary of the death of the poet Vernon Watkins, so local author Owen Sheers and three other poets will be reading and discussing Vernon Watkins’ work and sharing their own new poems. Admission is free, and the event is supported by Swansea University and Literature Wales.
5pm. Recollections of the Early Days of the Poetry Bookshop. Alan Halsey will be there – he was bookselling in Hay when I first came here in the 1990s – and sharing what it was like here back in the Seventies. He will be joined by publisher Glenn Storhaug, Anne Stevenson and Michael Farley for reminiscing and reading their poetry. This will also be a free event.
The Story of Books is developing plans for a dynamic working museum dedicated to all aspects of books. See the Project Blog for updates.