Which surprised me because I thought she was famous.
Of course, I’ve heard lots of people say “nobody reads poetry” and “poetry doesn’t sell” but among my friends, certainly those on Twitter and Facebook, nearly EVERYONE reads and buys poetry so my perception of reality is somewhat skewed. But even though Helen Mort was five times the winner of the Foyle Young Poets award, received an Eric Gregory Award from The Society
of Authors in 2007, became the youngest ever poet in residence at The Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere in 2010 and in 2013 had her debut collection shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize, the two Wiltshire librarians I spoke to had never heard of her and there was no mention of her book, Division Street, anywhere on the library computer system.
I blame myself.
To be truthful, not many poetry books were to be found at all, and certainly not in Trowbridge Library, my local branch. And really, I have to blame myself. I am a poetry reader but, up to now, I’ve bought poetry books and pamphlets when they’ve taken my fancy and I’m sure I’ll continue to do so for as long as my funds hold out.
Is it a bit selfish to always buy and never borrow books?
But isn’t buying poetry books, and never taking them out at the library, in some ways, like someone buying an artwork to hang on their wall at home, so that all the pleasure is theirs, and their family’s, alone? If we request a poetry book at the library and the library then buys the book to stock on their shelves, it follows that, potentially, more people will read the book.
So I’ve requested Division Street. There’s no guarantee that Wiltshire Libraries will buy the book in – I’ve been told that my request, and all requests for books not currently stocked, will be mentioned at the next relevant meeting, which is soon. I’ll let you know what the outcome is.
Perhaps you already read poetry books from your local library (in which case, I wonder which books you’ve taken out?) If you don’t, I wonder if you’ll think about doing it. There probably aren’t enough of us to make a massive difference… are there? But I suspect that if Division Street does arrive in Wiltshire libraries, there will be at least two other people who might be tempted to have a read.