Saturday, 30 September 2017

Goodbye to Belle Books and Looking Forward to the Poetry Bookshop's Grand Opening

Today, Brian closed the doors of Belle Books for the last time. He's done most of the packing up himself, trundling a trolley back and forth between the shop and home, but he has had a little bit of help (he's not exactly in the best of health, or the first flush of youth, after all). The very last sale he made cheered him up a bit, though - it was a facsimile copy of a 1950s Welsh comic book, and the customer's grandmother had done the illustrations!

Meanwhile, Chris and Mel are working hard at getting the shelves put together for the grand opening of the new Poetry Bookshop on 7th October - they're moving to the shop by the clock tower that was Spirit of the Andes most recently. They've got a full programme of events to launch the new shop, starting at 2pm with The Strings of Song. It's the 50th anniversary of the death of the poet Vernon Watkins, so local author Owen Sheers and three other poets will be reading and discussing Vernon Watkins' work and sharing their own new poems. Admission is free, and the event is supported by Swansea University and Literature Wales.
Then at 5pm there will be Recollections of the Early Days of the Poetry Bookshop. Alan Halsey will be there - he was bookselling in Hay when I first came here in the 1990s, and he remembers what it was like back in the 1970s in Hay. He will be joined by publisher Glenn Storhaug, Anne Stevenson and Michael Farley for reminiscing and reading their poetry. This will also be a free event.

The big event will be in the evening, at the Globe, starting at 7pm and going on until late, when Dr John Cooper Clarke will be taking the stage, with special guests. Tickets are £20 (the special early bird tickets at £15 are all gone, I think). He is a superstar in the world of poetry, as well as being very funny, and well known on TV and radio, so it's quite exciting to have him in Hay for the Poetry Bookshop's launch.

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