I am bookworm for sure, but I wouldn’t really call myself a poetry lover. However, my mind may have changed the moment I walked into Grolier Poetry Bookshop at the center of Harvard Square in Cambridge.
I was just about to walk into the Harvard Book Store when a humble sidewalk sign caught my eye – “the oldest all poetry book store in America,” with an arrow pointed to Plympton street. Looking in that direction, I saw another delicate black-and-white sign hanging near the store entrance, with the store name and an illustration of three cats playing together – cutest logo ever!
Below the sign there was a small bookshelf filled with used poetry books under 5 dollars each. That’s really a good deal if you don’t have a large budget for poetry. Behind the glass, a couple of best sellers and staff picks were displayed with a bright yellow daisy pot in the middle.
I was hooked. I pushed the door and stepped inside. Unlike other book shops where people have space to walk around and explore, this is a tiny little store about 400 sq. ft. total. I saw a huge volumes of poetry books with colorful covers blooming over every flat surface of the boutique shop. I smelled the antique scent of thousands and thousands of yellowed paper and the poesy hidden inside.
Just being in the store made me feel like a poet. I remembered Emily Dickinson said, “If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.” I guess that’s the power of poetry, and for me, that’s the magic of this little boutique.
So I spent hours getting to know a little bit about poems – “the best words in best order.” To be honest, I still know nothing about them. But that’s fine, Grolier welcomes every customer whether he/she is there to read, enjoy, consume or just start to learn about poetry.
The staff believes what John Adams said, “you will never be alone with a poet in your pocket,” thus they selected and printed out their favorite poems on small pieces of paper and encouraged customers to take one with them. Grolier planted the seeds of hope and heritage, built this store to house all the tour de force in the field of poetry and created opportunity for everyone to appreciate them.