Thursday, May 30, 2013

Shakespeare & Co.

Shakespeare and Company Bookstore, Paris

I like the that way my friend Victoria is just casually strolling through Paris on a summer day, past one of the world's most legendary bookstores.
(photography by Steven La Vigne)

To accompany the ambiance of Steven's photograph is an autumnal poem about the same bookstore, written by my friend Jim Barnes who lived in Paris for awhile:

Shakespeare & Co.

St. Julien le Pauvre stoops in shadows that lean
toward Notre Dame. The park grays in the rainy
twilight. Next door George Whitman's crumbling store

is the color of ashes and carded tomes thumbed
into oblivion. Two pigeons come
to the door, their bookish eyes red and sore

in the November rain. Humble they move aside,
as if we were masters here to provide
their daily bread. George stamps "ground zero"

inside the Gertrude Stein we pay too dearly for
and offers us a room for the night or
the week if we wish it. We do not go

upstairs. The recent fire has left a thin smell of
smoke everywhere. We hear the rattle of
teaspoons and cups. Small talk of poetry

tumbles down the steep stairs and hides under the lower
shelves, duller than ash. Outside the rain pours.
The pigeons trundle dead weight under trees.

It is not the best of times, yet we hold old books
with a joy beyond belief: we will look
through volumes to find what we hold no more.

from Paris ~ Poems by Jim Barnes

You can find more poems of Paris on my recent post:
"Paris: Ferlinghetti, Fenton & Forche"
on the
The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker
A fortnightly [every 14th & 28th]
literary blog of connection & coincidence; custom & ceremony

And more poems by Jim Barnes on these previous posts:
Quinton Duval, Tomatoes & Gravy,
Missouri Poets, Parallax, No One With a Nose, and Penelope

P.S. July 2014: At Pere Lachaise


These pictures are from my visit to one of the little
Shakespeare & Co. Bookstores in York City
(not affiliated with the Paris store):

137 E. 23rd Street

Storefront renovations in 2007

Bookstore Cat

Check out my Book Blog ~ Kitti's List!

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