The Albion Beatnik Bookstore website (or how a bookshop once changed a light bulb)

The web page of the Albion Beatnik Bookstore in Oxford, now closed (as usual) for business: muses and misspills on books, jazz, poetry, stuff like false flags and smoke screen: was randomly decrepit and proven to be more than neo-bankrupt: it was so analogue it was anal and now deceased.

The Albion Beatnik


ALBION is an old word for England; BEATNIK is an American slang and constructed word for AN ATTITUDE OF MIND, introduced by JACK KEROUAC in 1948 (he claimed from the word ‘beatific’). The shop stocks twentieth century English and American novels and poetry, also jazz; and a range of second-hand books. The shop closed in January, 2018.

The first pop-up jazz evening is arranged for 25th August, 7:45pm, at the St Aldate’s Tavern: the brilliant Sarah Gillespie Quartet.

Tickets can be booked here: (The gig is on the first floor of the pub, in their Blue Room. Entry £10; refreshment will be available from the St Aldates Tavern.)

SARAH GILLESPIE (guitar, vocal), KIT DOWNES (keyboards), RUTH GOLLER (bass), and EMILIANO CAROSELLI (drums).

SARAH GILLESPIE is a critically acclaimed singer songwriter renowned for mixing elements of blues, folk and jazz with her distinctive streetwise lyricism. She performed many times at the Albion Beatnik, always to great acclaim. Her three albums ‘Stalking Juliet’ (2009) ‘In the Current Climate’ (2011) and ‘Glory Days’ (2014) were met with four and five star reviews from the Guardian, MOJO, the Independent and Rock and Real, plus plaudits from iconic musician Robert Wyatt. Her fourth album is arranged and co-produced by Mercury nominated pianist and composer Kit Downes, to be launched in October at the Southbank.

As a teenager, Gillespie busked across America. She went on to perform across Europe, the UK and the USA with appearances on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, Start the Week and Loose Ends plus airplay on BBC Radio 2, Radio 3 and local stations world wide reaching millions of listeners. (Her debut collection of poetry Queen Ithaca Blues was published by the Albion Beatnik Press. See below.)

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Albion Beatnik Press published three books at the end of last year:

Queen Ithaca Blues, SARAH GILLESPIE’s first collection of poetry. Sarah is simply the best singer songwriter in the U.K. at the moment. She has recorded three studio albums that have received widespread critical acclaim and much radio airplay on BBC Radio 2 and BBC Radio 3, also on public radio in America. She combines demotic, raw beat poetry lyric with a wacky and individual musical style that nods to jazz and to folk. Sarah tours often in Europe and the United Sates. As with her lyrics, Sarah’s poetry bristles with brio. Caroline Bird describes Sarah’s poetry as “bright with horror and stricken with laughter,” and that gets it just right. This is the stuff of real life.

SIMON COLLINGS is an Oxford-based writer. His poems, stories and essays have appeared in various journals. Out West is his first chapbook. With an introduction by Luke Kennard; illustrations by Zoë Rubens.“What we find in Collings’ Out West,” writes Luke Kennard, “is a kind of exploded Western, where generic tropes and the conventional wisdom of common-sense reasoning merge seamlessly with the unexpected and inexplicable… It is solely the marvellous and the imaginary that matters… and this is the real frontier Simon Collings explores.”

In eight brief but densely written “auto-fictions” veteran literary critic RAY KEENOY (founder of the Babel Guides to Fiction in Translation) sings of the British adventure in Europe: Last of the Yiddish Poets. Pieces set in Spain, Italy, Ireland, Greece, the East End and Hungary are like love letters pasted onto the wall of European history. Along with the familiar Northern attraction to the sensuality and sunshine of the Mediterranean world his unusual (mixed Irish and Jewish) immigrant background has pushed him to question rather than romantically overlook the history of Europe’s seething populations and the struggles that have created a ruin in Ireland or an impoverished village in Spain. The illustrations are by Daniel Balanescu.

The Seasons of Cullen ChurchThe Albion Beatnik filmed Bernard O’Donoghue reading ‘Connolly’s Bookshop’ in the Bookstore (the poem is from his last collection, The Seasons of Cullen Church). It’s a bit discursive (nearly ten minutes), the opening sequence based on a car chase in Starsky & Hutch (blue-eyed Hutch makes an appearance later), the slow-mo of Bernard near the end will stampede sales at Clinton Cards, but thoughtfully filmed. It’s an attempt to take the poem outside of its bookish and Faber museum setting. To read the blog about the film, please click here.

The shop’s blog page, mostly writing on books, music, some skullduggery.

SS3.2The third issue of the shop magazine, The Sandspout, is now available. 162pp, £4. Articles by Kristin Grogan, April Pearce, travel pieces by Yvonne Eller; an interview with Trevor Watts; short stories by James Benmore, Mark Mayes, Douglas Adamson; poetry from Eleanor Rees, Jenny Lewis, Kelley Swain, Andrew Smardon and others; much else. Submissions for the next issue (October 2017) gladly accepted, no criteria to be met other than an association with the shop, no requirement for length. Further details…

file-page1A free selfie can be taken in the reflection of the appropriately glossy and mirror-like cover of the novella published by the Albion Beatnik late in 2016: Baret Magarian’s Mirror and Silhouette. It is a brilliant read. “A stylish literary blend of Thomas Mann, Angela Carter and Patricia Highsmith,” writes Sally Bayley. “Baret Magarian writes of modern love and its pessimistic antagonists against the seductive backdrop of ancient Venice. This is an accomplished novella for literary and aesthetic readers.” Further details…