Shelf-Portrait (vii)

A bookcase filled with poetry books.

Three or four years ago I had the idea of devoting more space on my bookshelves to poetry. I very seldom re-read works of fiction: once I’ve read a story I hardly ever feel the need to revisit it. As the passing of time continues to take its toll, it could be that a weakening memory might lend more appeal to re-reading novels and short stories, but for now most the volumes in the fiction section of my library are little more than mementoes of past pleasures. To my mind, poems are more akin to songs in that I can ‘listen’ to them repeatedly with little or no diminution of enjoyment. Such was the basis for a determined effort to make room for verse at the expense of prose.

I allocated one of my IKEA-like bookscases for poetry. At first it was half empty, but gradually it filled up as new acquisitions arrived, until, a couple of months ago, the last bit of free space was taken, as is shown – none too clearly, alas – in the image above. The bookcase is in rather a small room directly opposite my desk. To get the picture I had to clamber underneath the desk with a 24mm lens attached to my Nikon D70S (I suppose I could have just used my phone). About half of the volumes are by individual authors, and the rest are anthologies. The former are organised alphabetically by author name, the latter are grouped more arbitrarily according to ‘keywords’ which may relate to the title, or the editor, or the publisher, or the nationality of the poets featured the book.