Still There

Open Books, A Poem Emporium

Although it may have changed (I don't even know if the wine bar is still there), this is how it appeared to me when I visited several years ago:

Open Books, A Poem Emporium, is located in a small oasis on an otherwise impersonal block. Across the street from the Vehicle Sales Facility, and between Up Time Technology and Budget Moulding, it occupies the lower half of a small narrow building. Stairs lead up to The Bungalow, Wine Bar and Café, complete with small inviting balcony and umbrella tables. A sign on the side of the building reads WINE (arrow pointing up) and POETRY (arrow pointing down). The space inside Open Books is small and spare but easy to be in. Quotes from various poets are printed on the white walls. One reads poetry with one’s nerves.

The books are arranged around three sides of the long narrow room, in alphabetical order by poet, followed by anthologies, collections and biographies. Two long colorful runners brighten the pink concrete floor. Nice slat-topped wooden benches and a rush-bottomed chair offer accommodations that, if not cozy, are easy to settle down on anyway. E.E. Cummings, Dante, Maya Angelou, Walt Whitman – they all live happily here with hundreds of friends for company. Lectures are held from time to time. The back bookshelf is on wheels and rolls out to reveal a lectern and a small group of chairs. The bulletin board is loaded with announcements from the book world of Seattle – readings, fairs, submissions, workshops. The shelf beside it has copies of Writers Northwest and the Pacific Reader. There are worse things to do on a summer’s afternoon than to stop by Open Books, A Poem Emporium, pick up a slim volume, and retreat to the balcony above for a nice glass of wine.