Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Poetry and Bookstores

I encountered Carol Ann Duffy during the first year of my Masters when a professor read out selections from The World's Wife. Unfortunately, I've not had a chance to get very much better acquainted with her since then because all her books at the British Library are almost always out and I'm yet to come across her at a bookstore in Bombay. To boot, the ever-dependable Internet has too few of the same poems all over the place.

The real, if hidden, moral of the story is that if one of you feels generous enough to want to send me any of her work, please don't hesitate to ask for my address. :-)

So here's an utterly gorgeous poem I came across here. There's another one posted there as well but I liked this one better. Also, you'll find a pretty comprehensive profile of Duffy here.


I like pouring your tea, lifting
the heavy pot, and tipping it up,
so the fragrant liquid streams in your china cup.

Or when you’re away, or at work,
I like to think of your cupped hands as you sip,
as you sip, of the faint half-smile of your lips.

I like the questions – sugar? – milk? –
and the answers I don’t know by heart, yet,
for I see your soul in your eyes, and I forget.

Jasmine, Gunpowder, Assam, Earl Grey, Ceylon,
I love tea’s names. Which tea would you like? I say
but it’s any tea for you, please, any time of day,

as the women harvest the slopes
for the sweetest leaves, on Mount Wu-Yi,
and I am your lover, smitten, straining your tea.


I've always thought there are few places as incredible and intriguing as a book store and that there are too few of that variety in Bombay. On a recent trip around Europe, Plain Jane and K spent a few evenings in Paris during the course of which they explored Shakespeare and Company. The both of them generously thought first of me while they were there. Even more generously, they brought back a wonderful print of a lovely painting of it for me.

An iconic English book store in Paris, Shakespeare and Co has flourished under Slyvia Beach and George Whitman and is quite an important place. For example, did you know that it was Beach who first published Ulysses? From all of K's photos and the ones on the Net, it seems like the most delicious hodge-podge of a place. It's dark, crowded with books in a seeming mess, and looks intriguingly inviting. The best part is that in exchange for working two hours a day in the book store, reading a book day, and making your own bed, you can stay in the upper part of the store as long as you like. And as far as I can tell, while I'm unemployed, I'm definitely in the wrong city!

P.S The Wikipedia article led me to Jeremy Mercer's top 10 book stores. All ten sound really, really delectable, I tell you! Sigh...


Parth said...

Charming poem. Now, now, you wouldn't swap a job in software for one in a book store, would you? ;-)

Extempore said...

You know the answer to that one but I'll say it anyway - in a heartbeat! :-)

Anonymous said...

that poem - bliss.
i've heard the world of Shakespeare & Company and their tumbleweeds, and it was gives me such a frisson of delight to find you talking about it here!

mystic rose said...

I loved that poem.. and the other one too. thanks for introducing me to her. here via nocturne.

Extempore said...

@Nocturne: ;-) You should see the painting and the photos. Absolutely gorgeous! Now only if the Indira Gandhi Memorial Library had been like that!

@Mystic Rose: You're quite welcome... she's gorgeous, isn't she? :-)

mystic rose said...

indeed, the few poems I found online, I enjoyed immensely. And she's a prolific writer I hear.