City Hangout – Best English Language Poetry Shelf, The Book Shop, Jor Bagh Market
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Many good folk beat their chests lamenting the death of poetry. Which simply isn’t true. What are film songs but poems? How about all those Delhiites who can recite Ghalib and Gulzar by heart?
But, it’s certainly the fact that poetry shelves in bookstores tend to be rather meager, exiled to hard-to-spot polar extremities.
A notable exception is the Book Shop in Jor Bagh Market which maintains stacks of poetry books next to the entry door. Though this Central Delhi store is small, the English language poetry selection is extensive: It’s clear that the shop’s all-women team have spent considerable time and thought deciding exactly what to stock.
Of course, well-known poetry by Keats and Yates can also be found in other Delhi bookstores. But here you find a complete Philip Larkin lying atop a translated Ghalib.
A lot of Faber & Faber books are stacked together, and there’s even a Wallace Stevens—the legendary American poet rarely featured in Delhi bookshops. New collections by Indian poets are also seen here, such as Sumana Roy’s Out of Syllabus, not spotted in other stores at least by this reporter.
You may only be a habitual poetry reader and may not want to spend hard earned rupees buying poems. But no one is stopping you from stepping inside the store, sitting down in a wicker chair alongside the poetry shelf, and just read at random, discovering lines that magically light up your very soul.
Better still, you’ll probably be joined by the shop’s in-house cat, Meowni, who likes to lounge by the poetry section.
A space for poems