August 20, 2013 § 12 Comments
Just back from a week at the Yorkshire coast – a place that has always been, for me, a wellspring. I walked the Cleveland Way at 9, caught my first fish from Whitby’s East Pier at 10; my memory is filled with its skies, hills, cliffs and fossiled beaches.
In the last few years, it has become increasingly significant, too, as a source of poetry. Every visit sets the antennae twitching: the local accent (though there are fewer of these now, as cottages and chapels are bought up and converted by the monied) is a North-East one, and the coastline is rich with Viking or Scottish words like ‘wyke’ (landing place), ‘howe’ (hole) and ‘scar’ (submerged rock).
And there is The Whitby Bookshop. The ground floor, with its new fiction and children’s section, is always busy, thankfully. They do a lot to promote local writers, too, with a large, prominent section only partly capitalising on the town’s gothic credentials. But up the rickety stairs to the small front room, there is poetry. Not a wide selection, but fantastic discounts, encouraging me to buy collections from poets I’m not familiar with. This time it was Robin Robertson’s The Wrecking Light at £3.95. They also had Swithering. I nearly bought Sean O’Brien’s Collected Poems as well – half price – and probably should have done. A couple of years ago I got a copy of George Mackay Brown’s Collected Poems for £8. Okay, it came out in 2005, but still, it’s a fantastic book, RRP £20.
If ever you’re in the area, as they say, have a look.
And while we’re at it, which other independent bookshops can you recommend for poetry? I wonder if we can support them in other ways?