The Poetry Bookshop at Hay was first opened in the mid
seventies by Anne Stevenson and Michael Farley supplying new books. In 1979
Alan Halsey took over; selling second-hand (mostly U.S and alternative)
In her autobiographical poem; Legacy, Stevenson wrote:
To Alan Halsey, too, success
For poetry. And happiness
In Broad Street’s number twenty two
(I hope we never have to mess
With real estate again. Don’t you?)
Throughout the next 18 years the shop’s scope gradually widened to include more mainstream & pre 20th century work. Alan left Hay in 1996 to concentrate on writing and publishing (as West House Books). After a period of half life under the caretaker management of his ex-partner we took over the remaining stock in summer 1998 and began to resuscitate the business. Moving from Broad Street to the shop’s present location at the Ice House, Brook Street, we re-opened in the spring of 2000.
The Ice House is an 18th/ early 19th century square building with a brick lined subterranean chamber accessible by iron ladder from a vaulted cellar corridor. Once used, as its name suggests, for storing ice through the summer months these days it has no function but (thanks to its fine acoustics) to excite wonder in those tiring of the written word and moving whoop by experimental whoop into the territory of Schwitters, Cobbing & Co.
The main shop is on the ground floor where you will find the most comprehensive collection of poetry available for purchase in the United Kingdom. For 30 years this unique resource has been the delight of the cognoscenti. Now, as we gradually place the full range of our stock online you will be able to share their experience.
We hope you enjoy your visit!