Discovering books in charity shops

I've been reading some excellent books lately. Have almost read everything by Isabel Allende, and through my habit of browsing charity shops have accumulated a harvest of books I'm reaping through. I found a paperback copy of THE HELP in a charity shop in Beltinge where you can pick up books at boot sale prices - 50p. Not like the bigger shops who charge you three quid and more, pricing people like me out of the market. I could not put that book down, y'all! Lawdy, I read it through cover to cover on a Sunday when snow lay white and winsome all around, just the weather for reading novels set in America's Deep South. So pleased to see the film picking up all those Grammys.

In THE WORKS bookstore who do I come across but a book by my fellow countryman, Fred D'Aguiar. Me and Fred have history. He too went to Kent Uni and I went to hear him read at Ledbury a couple of years ago. I taught his Virginia Tech poem, a haunting piece of work about the massacres on campus - at Southampton. 'Course I'm pontificating, he won't remember me at tall tall. But we do have a country in common. His first novel, The Longest Memory, won the 1994 Whitbread Award. But there he was in THE WORKS, well not really him, but his book, Bethany Bettany - one sole copy waiting for his countrywoman to walk off the streets and buy it for 49p. 49p! I remember a similar purchase on London's South Bank where I picked up David Dabydeen's Turner, another Guyanese voice in a jumble of books shouting READ ME! READ ME!

And what do I find in another Charity shop, although this time for an extravagant two quid? A perfect hardback copy of Andrea Levy's THE LONG SONG. And on the same shelf? The love letters of Vita Sackville-West and Violet Trefusis.Their relationship was dramatised on television some years ago, and I remember visiting Knole and writing a poem about them. I'd also had the previlege of a writing residence at Sissinghurst  one cold and snowy winter working with another artist and a local primary school in response to Vita's poetry and the garden. (I still have the wellies.) My poem, 'Tell me Garden, what are you whispering?', was inspired by my work there, as well as by Wilson Harris' (another fine Guyanese writer) poem 'Tell me trees, what are you whispering?' and is published in my collection, After a Visit to a Botanical Garden.  

And lo! what should I get for my birthday but a Kindle! I've been back in Wales just three days. Two of them were spent nose to screen reading The Girl who played with Fire. The Kindle will never take the place of turning pages for me, or discovering books in shops. But the book is the thing.

So will I have time to write? Sure! Every book I read fills me with a kind of wonder. Speaks, inspires and makes me appreciate this wonderful conversation we're all having with each other.