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Bob Holman & Margery Snyder

Louisa Solano bids farewell to the Grolier Poetry Book Shop

By March 28, 2006

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In 2004 we posted a couple of items on the struggles of the Grolier Poetry Book Shop, which has been honoring poetry every day since 1927 on Harvard Square in Cambridge -- it calls itself “the nation’s oldest continuously operating all-poetry bookstore.” Now comes a letter from Louisa Solano, who has kept the Grolier Poetry Book Shop going for more than 30 years, saying goodbye:

“As many of you know, the lease of the Grolier Poetry Book Shop, Inc. ends on March 31. Harvard Real Estate offered me a very generous subsidy on the rent and a two-year lease with an option to renew. Unfortunately, the amount was beyond my means. HRE suggested that I sell the lease when I found a buyer. The buyer has been found, accepted the terms, and is now the owner. As he is out of town at the moment, I have agreed to maintain the shop until whatever date in March is decided upon.

“The decision to sell is not one I would have chosen except for the fact that for four months in the last twelve, I had enforced absences because of my health. This is no way to run a store: it creates the idea that the business is closed or that the owner has small interest in the customer. Rather than allow this to happen, I finally realized that my stewardship of the Grolier had come to a natural end. After 51 years of involvement (my ownership being 51), I have relinquished it. There are many people who have earned my gratitude: Gordon and Anna Cairnie, Jacqueline Springwater (who introduced me to the Grolier); Arthur Freeman who facilitated my ownership; Mr. Charles Merrill (whose kindness served always as a source of encouragement); Adrienne Rich, Elsa Dorfman, Cynthia McLachlan, Jane Alper, Mary Campbell, Cola Franzen, Caroline Knox, Jeanne Henle, John Hildebidle, Stephen Tapscott, Michael Casey, David Ferry, Allen Grossman, Donald Hall, the Masters of Adams House and the poets and poetry reading public who worldwide encouraged the growth of the shop. I shall miss the conversations, the spontaneity, the work and the fun of owning the Grolier Poetry Book Shop, Inc. Thank you for the privilege of serving you over the past 31 years. As ever, Louisa”

The Grolier Reading Series, The Grolier Poetry Prize, and the developing scholarship fund will continue but under the name of the Ellen La Forge Memorial Poetry Foundation.

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