From July 17 through July 20, I was at Netroots Nation in Detroit. I don’t think that I’d been since it was called YearlyKos (and, in all honestly, I don’t intend to go back for another couple of years, without some compelling reason; it’s a great event – great speakers, great networking and catching up with old colleagues, good panelists, etc., but time and tide waits for no man).
I wasn’t about to not explore a once (and future?) great American city, with an interesting and problematic story of renewal (hipster/techie/artist gentrification which, while great in many ways, can also leave long standing communities of color behind, or worse, pushed out). I’ll write about some of my explorations later, but for now, I want to focus on one super awesome place: John K King Used Books.
An enormous, four story high used bookstore in an old glove factory. The shelves are packed inside, as tight as possible without forcing the fire marshal to take corrective action. Suitably cluttered and confusing (let’s just say that the answer to my question, ‘where can I find the poetry section,’ did not have a simple, geographic answer).
I went twice, the first time, purchasing two books of poetry. One was slim volume of Ben Jonson’s verse, the other a collection of poetry for some long gone high school syllabus (we certainly never read Rime of the Ancient Mariner when I was in high school), which I bought solely because it had Thomas Babington Macaulay’s The Lays of Ancient Rome.
The second time, I picked up John Ruskin’s collection of lectures/essays entitled Sesame and Lilies. You may remember that I read a great collection of essays and excerpts by Ruskin and was happy to find some more.
Anyway… check out the pictures of this huge and incredible bookstore. If you look closely, you can see the books piled up in the windows.