Day 28: My go-to bookshop for three decades was the Book Loft of German Village at 631 South Third Street in Columbus, Ohio. I’m sure it’s still filled to the high ceilings with remainders and new books. In the old shop, a room (32 of them) or sometimes a hallway or closet was devoted to every literary category. Browsing through the entire store was a little like being digested; it might take twelve hours. The bookseller transacted sales behind a tiny counter under the stairs, in a space the size of a tollbooth. I could find a beautiful monthly or weekly planner among the Book Loft’s selection, instead of scavenging all over town the way I do now.
Wisława Szymborska‘s Poems: New and Collected, 1957-1997, translated by Stanisław Baránczak and Clare Cavanagh, likely was purchased from the Book Loft. The pretty first edition, published by Harcourt Brace, has a caramel-colored ribbon marker that matches the dust jacket and the binding. Do many new books, other than Bibles, have bound page markers today?
When it was published in the U.S., Frances Padorr Brent covered the book in the Boston Review:
In Szymborska’s work there is hesitancy and modesty—perhaps a matter of personality—an emphasis on the difficulty of telling the truth, to get it right, to thread one’s way through a maze of official half-truths. In post-war Poland, which had lost more than 6,000,000 people to the Germans, it was not permissible to speak directly about the 2,000,000 Jews who died at Auschwitz or the indifference of certain segments of Polish society. The encounter with communism, which the Polish critic Jan Kott calls the “serpent’s sting,” insinuated itself into Polish art, leaving behind a hole of silence, representing what was sometimes compromised, sometimes excised.
Readers of all ages find Szymborska’s poetry approachable. You can see one of the poems reproduced in the form of a printable notice to pin on a bulletin board.