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Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Dublin Arid Port (For Poetry)

When one arrives at Dublin airport, one is (rightly) met by poetry - lines of Heaney's. It seems fitting, somehow, to be so welcomed to Ireland - a land that tends to be thought of as particularly welcoming to poets. However, as one leaves Ireland, by way of its Dublin airport, a different vision is presented (a sort of back of the hand slap to any poetry lovers): resident booksellers, Hughes & Hughes, that famous chain, has a flagship bookshop at the airport, that currently has a (new) policy, of SELLING NO POETRY BOOKS. Nada. None. Zip.

I searched, today, high and low, among the Aherns, Kings, the Lees, the Orwells, the Ludlums, the Reichs, the candybars, and the books on leadership and macroeconomics and war, the lads mags, the chicklit, the still water, and in all that vast space, there was Irish Fiction, but no Irish Poetry. That's more than odd. It is borderline idiotic. No, strike that. It is idiotic.

The thousands who fly home to America, to England, to wherever, who pass through this place, must sometimes hunger (a little) for a poem here or there - maybe some Mahon, some Muldoon, some Boland. A little Yeats perhaps? They've seen the place, now maybe they want to take home some of the poetry - if even only a naff anthology. So, it is idiotic from a bottom line perspective (one shelf of poetry, prominently placed, would move books) - but also sad. Sad, and indicative.

Who is the buyer for Hughes & Hughes? Who thought stocking Zero Poetry at the last point before departure was a Good Thing? People fly every day, thirsting for poems to soothe them at 35,000 feet. I spoke to the manager, and he was very helpful and polite. He agreed it was a mistake, and that poetry would indeed "fly off the shelves" if stocked. He has promised to revisit the No Poetry Policy at Hughes & Hughes at Dublin Airport. Poetry Travellers, do keep me updated.
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