23 January 2011
I have joined the Poetry Library. 5th floor, Royal Festival Hall, Southbank. Small but perfect. It houses reference and loan copies of poetry from 1912 onwards. The librarians are mostly lovely inoffensively-attractive males. There are even big bright floor cushions in a corner for children, where they can sit and read, or be read to by their parents.
A section of the shelving is movable, adjustable. There are big wheels and a lock system on the side of them. There are notices up reminding browsers to check that there is no-one between the shelves before they start moving them together. I can imagine having a romantic tryst with some young, bespectacled, tentatively-bearded poet amid these claustrophobic shelves, our hands touching as we both reach for Ted Hughes.
It's not love's letter that poetry holds,
but the charm of the love that drew it forth
from the silence...
I try to get lost in this library. Or at least in the words in this library. I try. I succeed in getting lost in the 700 Penguin covers. The 700 book-worlds that were a gift and make me stare and stare and escape.