Maple Leaf Rag October 4, 2006Posted by Mark Folse in art, Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Poetry, Rebirth.
Tags: Maple Leaf Bookstore
Toulouse Street, 70119 United States Minor Outlying Islands
|Yesterday I visited the Maple Leaf Bookstore for the first time in 20 years. Nothing has changed, I thought as I grabbed the center pull of the screen door and entered. There is something about a cramped bookstore that entices in a way the marketing and design teams of the big box stores simply haven’t comprehended. Perhaps it is just that I am not the twenty to forty something woman book buyer they all believe they are catering to.
Borders and Barnes and Nobles will do in a pinch. A bookstore is, at the end of the day, still to me what a candy store is to a child, a place of wonder and reward. Still, there is something about the neatness and organization of the boxes that is repulsively antiseptic, that fails to hook me and make the sale. I routinely walk into B&N or Borders and leave without a book. When I visit an independent book store, that is clearly run for the love of books, even the endlessly cavernous Powell’s in Portland, Ore. (the highlight of my trip there last year, ahead of even the Japanese Garden), and wander the pratical and untidy stacks, I am entranced. I could never leave such a store empty handed. Hell, I think I even still have the receipt from Powell’s, and a half-dozen their bookmarks.
The staff of the Maple Leaf solicitiously offered to order me the book my daughter needed, but I couldn’t wait. Instead, I just wandered the cramped space, finding the poetry shelf right where I left it two decades ago. I picked up a little chapbook, Katrina-ku, storm poems, from the New Orleans Haiku society. Must are senryu, the form without the rigid references to nature. The real high point are the pen-and-ink drawings that accompany each poem. And the renku “Only The Living/a renku”, written collaboratively by members of the society, is a gem.
I still haven’t gotten my cannoli yet at Brocato’s, but I have no one to blame but myself. Returning to the Maple Leaf was just as sweet.