Friday, January 19, 2018

Poetry Friday -- Sorrow and Joy

After 25 years of business, our favorite local independent (secondhand and antiquarian) bookstore, Acorn Bookshop, is succumbing to the pressures of bookstore chains and Amazon. To give you a sense of the loss that many in the community are feeling, here's a poem (not by me) that George shared on the Acorn Facebook page:

The following poem was written by one of the Acorn family of friends/customers.


Not an acorn falleth, but our God doth know,
Even when e-commerce lays a bookstore low;
Seeds are scattered ‘round the earth, bookstore-ies are set free.
What once was just a mortal nut is now immortal tree.
Far more precious surely than the books that fly
Off the shelves are people who all came in to buy,
Or chat with George or Christine or other Acorn kind
‘Bout every sort of history or author on their mind.
Then off they’d go to browse around; such treasures to behold.
A myst’ry why there’s any left; so many you have sold!
Remember all your book fans as you turn the page;
for memories grow more precious as they come of age.
Though pages now are numbered; dust each off and see,
How many hearts you’ve gladdened; The acorn’s now a tree.

An Acornista

(with apologies to Louisa May Alcott)

Last summer when I did a fairly massive clean-and-purge, I sold a bunch of books to Acorn and so we had a sizable amount of store credit. I was looking forward to working with George and Jack to build my collection of signed editions by U.S. Poets Laureate. When they announced the closing, they didn't have any such editions on their shelves, but I bought four gems I'll be sharing in the next couple of weeks.

 First up, a 1914 first edition of Joyce Kilmer, containing his (yes, HIS!) most famous poem, "Trees."

There aren't many other poems in the book that I particularly care for, except this one:

Lots of folks in this snow-covered coldcoldcold land are looking forward to spring!

The page after this Easter poem contained the biggest surprise in the book: evidence of the previous reader/owner, who marked up a poem with directions for reading it aloud! AND...tucked in at that spot was a magazine clipping with poems by Aline Kilmer, who, come to find out, was Joyce Kilmer's wife!

As I was poking around learning about the Kilmers, I discovered that the University of Delaware has a collection of 50+ letters that Sara Teasdale wrote to the two of them. Fascinating. I'd love to poke through that collection some day!

My students are astonished by my lack of knowledge about current popular culture -- movies, video games, sports, YouTubers, etc. Who has time for all that when you can get lost in literary rabbit holes?!?

Kay has today's Poetry Friday Roundup at A Journey Through the Pages.


  1. Anonymous8:37 AM

    What fun to fall down a literary rabbit hole with you, Mary Lee. Sad to hear about the loss of the Acorn Bookshop - but delighted by the wonderful poem George wrote and shared.

  2. I am so sad about your local bookstore. What an amazing find. I wonder who gave up that book with two Kilmer's within it. I can imagine a story there.

  3. So sorry to hear the store is closing. Sending good thoughts to the employees and patrons.

  4. Love your literary rabbit holes, Mary Lee! The fact that writers were prolific letter-writers gives us so much interesting material. Your Acorn bookstore must have been special to inspire that poem. Looking forward to hearing more about your recent finds!

  5. So sad to hear about the closing of that beloved bookstore - wishing new adventures to its owners and staff and patrons. Thanks for sharing your "finds" - you know I am always lost in those same rabbit holes!

  6. Always sad when an indie bookstore has to close. What a great poem; it's evident how much the store was beloved by the community. Rabbit holes are good -- treasures await!

  7. Oh, that Easter poem. Gorgeous. And I'm with you on the pop culture cluelessness...

  8. It's so sad to lose a bookstore! Glad you got some treasures, though.

  9. What a beautiful tribute to your local bookstore. I love how it ends with how the acorn is now a tree :)

  10. I love the post, but am mourning with you in the loss of your bookstore. Since I work at a similar store, I know how hard it is to keep going. What a find for you in this Kilmer book! And going down that rabbit hole is just the kinds of trips I like to take! Thanks, Mary Lee!

  11. Literary rabbit holes to love! Sorry about your dear bookstore, Acorn. What a wonderful name for a place that plants the seed that will become a tree!

  12. I love to look through old books and find surprises like you found in the Kilmer book. How many signed laureate books do you now possess? Do you have Donald Hall? If not, let me know. He lives in NH and I may catch him at a book signing.

    1. I have 18 so far! Yes, I have a Donald Hall, but thanks for the offer!

  13. The loss of a local bookstore is so, so sad but the poem you shared is a lovely tribute. I'm sure the owners will treasure it. What fun to find even more treasures within your Kilmer book!

  14. Anonymous6:26 AM

    I'm with you, Mary Lee! Literary rabbit holes over pop culture any day. How sad that Acorn's is closing. Our local indie, The Hickory Stick, is such a treasure and I would be heartbroken if it closed. Thank you for sharing your treasures with us!

  15. It is so sad when a neighborhood bookstore closes. I am still mourning the loss of the bookstore I went to as a kid.

  16. Mary Lee, you certainly have me going down that rabbit hole. Once I hear of something I do not know I want to explore and discover. The fate of independent bookstores is sad. My favorite one in Albany was sold but not changed into a bookstore. Unfortunately, my dear professor who owned it was getting on in years and could not manage it anymore. It had quite a reputation and I loved strolling in it to talk to Frank. BTW I received your poetry postcard and think it is a beautiful reflection of winter in a not quite frozen stillness. I would like to have this in my winter gallery and will showcase as I gear up for the gallery.

  17. So sad to lose a bookstore, but I enjoyed traveling with you down the literary rabbit hole. It doesn't help your local loss, but I am thrilled that my daughter is discovering the joy of used bookstores while she's in England. I hope I have time to peek in at least a few when we visit.

  18. Oh, my goodness.....what finds! I'm sorry that they come on the tails of this news. What a tragedy to lose Acorn. What a lovely goodbye poem. I feel like I should send a card of condolence. What a loss. What a shame.

  19. What treasures you shared with us Mary Lee, that you found in this book–Serendipity met you at Acorn Bookshop, these were meant for you, enjoy! I am sorry about the closing of the bookshop, but I'm glad you have this acorn to take with you as it leaves.

  20. Sorry to hear about the bookstore...but that Kilmer book is quite a treasure!


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