27 July 2006

Hay-on-Wye, Poetry, and Poetry Thursday

Just a quick post on my trip yesterday to Hay-on-Wye, Wales, the "Town of Books". Hay is very small (maybe 2 American city blocks wide by about 4 blocks long), with 35 - 40 second-hand bookstores. It is definitely a place to get lost in. Paul Collins, in his book about living in Hay (Sixpence House), wrote that you don't find books in Hay, but rather, they find you. This is not an exact quote as I don't have the book handy, but I think I've captured the essence. And is it true! I could have spent hours -- maybe days -- in Hay.

I only had a few hours to spend due to some soon-to-be-laughable mechanical problems with the rental car that necessitated changing my itinerary (a clutch pedal that kept sticking when depressed wasn't too laughable at the time when driving through the mountains!). So with limited time, I had to be selective about where I went browsing. The signs for the Poetry Bookshop immediately caught my eye as I walked into town. I knew that books that were looking for me were waiting there. I think every volume in the small shop with a huge inventory of poetry and poetry criticism was a likely candidate to find it's way into my backpack.

My haul: a first edition of William Carlos Williams' The Broken Span, a Poet of the Month Series published in 1941. A copy of Williams' I Wanted to Write a Poem: The Autobiography of the Works of a Poet, first published in 1958, and a book of poetry by Margaret Atwood (regrettably, I can't think of the title, and it isn't with me at the moment). And, since I also pick up cookbooks when I travel (typically the only souvenirs I lug home), I picked up a small book titled A Book of Welsh Bakestone Cookery. I don't think it includes anything with leeks in it, which is too bad. Leeks are the national vegetable of Wales (or so I was told) and I do like them!.

For readers who are hikers and bikers too -- it's a wonderful area to play in. It reminded me a lot of the Eastern Tennessee/Western North Carolina area, although the elevation is probably lower. I'm guessing the Dorothy and BikeProf would like this area! I would love to come back here sometime when I can stay a few days, browse the bookshops and do a dayhike on Offa's Dyke Trail. Think Welsh equivalent of the Appalachian Trial, though not as long. It traverses Wales from North to South coasts.

Since I seem to be on a William Carlos Williams thing here, I will post this link to "This is Just to Say". This week's writing prompt for Poetry Thursday was to post about food. And this is, on one level, about food, although like his other poems, about so much more. I haven't had time to check out I Wanted to Write a Poem, so I don't know if he writes about the origin of this one or not.

So long for now -- I'm off to the Modigliani exhibit at the Royal Academy and then to the Tate Modern. Inside musuems seems a fine way to spend a very hot day in London!


jenclair said...

Hope you will post about I Wanted to Write a Poem when you have had time to read and assimilate a bit. Williams is a favorite, and I always enjoy knowing more about the process of a poet I like.

Cam said...

Jenclair, I certainly will. I began reading it the other day, but found it too difficult to read on the train. So it is packed away until I return home. Look for something in a few weeks.

ebbye said...

All those bookshops on top of one another! How do they all survive? ...concerned single second hand book shop owner

Carl V. said...

That is a place I've wanted to visit ever since I read Paul Collins' book but I have to admit that the book itself disappointed me. His point of view seemed to be that of a spoiled American rather than someone who actually appreciated the place he was at. I hated the condescending tone of voice...not like other nonfiction books I've read. Very disappointing.