We have a substantial poetry section in the Acorn Bookshop, and to celebrate National Poetry Month in April, we’re having a 20%-off sale on all poetry. And here’s another reason why we’re promoting poetry.
In 1981, I was invited to attend a poetry reading on St. Patrick’s Day at the library of West Virginia Northern Community College in Wheeling, West-by-God-Virginia. I was living a half-hour away in Bethany, WV, where I was managing the Bethany College Bookstore, and serving as the President of the Friends of
the Wheeling Public Library.
I accepted the invite, little knowing that attending it would change my life, and little knowing that the morning of the reading, it would be snowing, rendering the twisting, up-and-down “road” between Bethany and Wheeling quite hazardous.
But I’d committed to attending the literary event because as a bookseller, I wanted to support all such events in the Tri-State area there. So despite the weather and my unfamiliarity with the poet – Linda Mizejewski, I skidded and slid my way down to Wheeling, wishing I could have been cozy all day long in the
bookstore, encouraging the mostly-reluctant students to read good literature and history in addition to all their textbooks.
Arriving early I sat in the library reading. I always carry a book with me, and that day I had William Safire’s “On Language” to engross me.
The program leader spied me and invited me to meet the poet before she read. I met Ms. Mizejewski, struggling with the pronunciation of her Polish name. She was attractive, energetic, and personable, and I returned to the back of the room looking forward to her reading with much more interest than previously.
Her poetry was quite good. (She later won a contest in Seattle and consequently had her verse published.) I was enchanted, and listened closely to her, looking for clues about her personal life, which is always potentially misleading in an author’s/poet’s text. She had no ring on, but many folks don’t wear commitment rings, though they are not single.
Afterwards, I waited for all her new fans – including some nearly-panting college boys – to chat her up and disappear. Finally I approached with an extended hand and said, “You are so charming! Would you consider coming up to Bethany if the bookstore sponsored a poetry reading?” (How’s that for an innovative pick-up line?!”)
She instantly agreed, and I sensed that we might get along together quite well.
Within a couple of weeks she called me to ask if I’d serve on a committee to execute a grant to bring the author Tillie Olson to Wheeling. I quickly agreed.
There were four women and me, each representing a college in the area. Glancing around her apartment – in an old mansion once owned by one of the Warner brothers but now split into very nice apartments – I saw no evidence of a male in residence, and determined to out-wait all the women in order to have a
few moments alone with the poet.
I have never really left that meeting. Linda and I married and have been together 30 years now. She teaches Film and Literature in the Women’s Studies department at the Ohio State University and I’ve managed about eight bookstores since then before settling in here at Acorn over 12 years ago.
So please come in and shop our poetry selection, but with a warning: poetry can change your life!