(31 Total References)
By LOUISA ...
By LOUISA SOLANO
Louisa Solano was the owner of the Grolier Poetry Bookshop on Plympton Street from 1974 to 2006.
The Word by Doug Holder - Archives - Boston Girl Guide
The young Louisa Solano who had worked at the Grolier took over the store when Gordon died.
Previous winners have been Robert K. Johnson, Louisa Solano
, Robert Pinsky, Afaa Michael Weaver, Jack Powers, and David Godine, Jr.
Dick Lourie is poet and one of the editors/publishers of that most democratic of magazines: Hanging Loose and Louisa Solano was owner of the Grolier's Poetry Book Shop. (Oh I do remember my first visit.
This was a well-deserved honor for Louisa Solano, the former long-time owner of the Grolier Poetry Book Shop.
Lawrence Biemiller's Stories from 'The Chronicle': Grolier Poetry Bookstore
Cambridge, Mass. -- In 1974, Louisa Solano was fired from her job at a local bookstore --"for my belligerent attitude," she says, with a mischievous smile.
What it did not have, Ms. Solano
knew, was a marketable inventory, or a respectable credit rating, or a lot of customers."Gordon was famous for his
post-card correspondence with everybody," she
says."He never sold books, he
never paid bills, he
just wrote post cards.
People who came into the store would be insulted.
, in fact, had seen this happen again and again -- she
had been going to the Grolier regularly since she
was 15."I used to hang out there, straighten up the piles, dust things.
I was very, very quiet and never joined the conversation."
By the time Mr. Cairnie died, Ms. Solano had been working in other bookstores for years and had earned a bachelor's degree from Boston University.
believes it is the only store of its kind in the United States."The other all-poetry bookstores are either secondhand or first-edition," she
says."I think we're the only off-the-street, open-to-the public, in-print poetry bookstore."
Actually, it's that and much more.
The Grolier sponsors poetry readings at Adams House every Tuesday night during the academic year, and book signings every Saturday afternoon.
It also sponsors its own poetry competition, the Grolier Prize, "for people who don't have previous publications -- to give somebody an opportunity," Ms. Solano
herself serves as a one-woman information exchange for her
customers, poets and readers alike.
She recommends books to students and other new readers, suggests workshops and publishers to aspiring writers, passes along new gossip and old, even sets customers up on dates. (She never sets up one poet with another, though.) She dispenses advice to novices ("A lot of people have never thought of reading aloud") and to callers who want to console themselves with poems after a loved one has died (she recommends Tennyson's "In Memoriam").
The two things she
won't do, she
says, are help people pick verses to read at weddings and help those whose questions are primarily commercial -- for instance, a publishing-house editor who wants to know what new poems to include in an anthology."I charge now for consulting," she
"The philosophy I started from was to broaden the outreach of this store," says Ms. Solano
."Having been around here so long, I was well aware of how narrow the clientele was."
The store is open daily from noon to 6:30 -- except Sunday, which is Ms. Solano's
arrives around 10, along with Jessie, her
uses mornings for things she
can't get to when the store is open -- like uninterrupted phone conversations.
At 11:30 or so she
walks around the corner for a bagel, which she
eats in the Adams House lobby.
The first customer arrives shortly after she
unlocks the door -- today it's a graduate student in education who wants to know where he
can find open poetry readings, and whether Ms. Solano
can suggest a free-lance critic he
could pay"to read my stuff and rip it apart."
Their conversation is interrupted by a call from someone who complains about book prices for 10 minutes and ends up ordering an $8 volume.
This is just the kind of complaint that steams Ms. Solano
."People come in with custom-made T-shirts that probably cost $15 or $20, yet they complain about the cost of a book someone's been working on for years," she
"Most of these books cost less than a hamburger on Holyoke Street."
She speaks fondly of other customers, however."There was an engineer for NASA who walked into the store after reading about it.
said, 'Teach me something about poetry.' Now he
has one of the largest collections in the country.
Another customer sent $600 every other month and told me to send small-press books to various schools where his
children had gone.
I met him only once, at the very beginning, bu he
helped keep the store alive for years, and helped pay the small-press bills."
A slow day at the Grolier may bring in only 25 people; a busy day, 100.
runs the shop more or less single-handedly -- selling poetry isn't especially profitable, even if your landlord is Harvard
and you get a break on your rent for operating a cultural resource.
This summer, when Ms. Solano
had to take two months off to recover from surgery, customers kept the store open for her
not answering questions or ringing up a sale, she
packs up books she's
mailing out, or phones customers to let them know that books they've ordered have arrived.
hardly seems belligerent.
laughs as she
tells stories about poets she's
met, and every few minutes she
recommends another book: "Have you read Timothy Liu?
He's an ex-Mormon poet.
was one of the winners of our poetry prize."Mr.
Liu teaches at Cornell College; his
latest book, which she
pulls from the L's, is called Burnt Offerings.
describes Martin Espada, who teaches at the University of Massachusetts
at Amherst, as"an ex-lawyer and a terrific reader.
new book, Imagine the Angels of Bread, joins Mr. Liu's on a visitor's to-buy pile.
Ms. Solano is not a poet herself.
partial to Jane Austen, whose novels she
rereads every year, and to Chaucer.
seems familiar with every book anyone asks about in the course of the afternoon -- indeed, she
almost seems familiar with every poem."I read poetry for the image and the sound," she
says."I don't find the thoughts and the experiences all that unique, but I love language.
Past President of ...
Past President of Grolier Poetry Book Shop.