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.
This first pic is a study in the dishonesty of perspective: my fat arse shielding the even fatter arse of Oxford-based writer Dan Holloway, both of us in pursuit of a volume by Adelle Stripe. Last Saturday’s impromptu reading from Dan of Adelle’s brilliant poem In Utero and then his own Hungerford Bridge closed the evening and the shop doors. So appropriate as brilliant Dan it was who set the Albion Beatnik in motion: the first vibrant evening event here was in late 2009, eighteen months into the shop’s timeline when it was all but done for. The shop could barely limp financially when we launched Dan’s novel of that time with words and song, a whirligig of TV monitors in the basement, cameras and audience playing hide and seek in the shop around a chaos of tables littered with books.
Other readings last Saturday from Mariela Neagu, Andrew Smardon and Alan Buckley (who also read from Helen Mort), and music from Bruno Guastalla, Kesia Decote, Karen and Andrew Kay. This was a bookend, in fact, to over a thousand evening events – jazz and other stuff, poetry, book launches, talks, yoga ffs, films, even a wedding reception – haphazard opening hours, frustrated notes left on the door by customers, a whole pile of books, one-legged accounting, but much gusto, and a shop that, like an Anglican church, had many congregations, none of each might have known of any of the other. So many people to thank, to some of these more than I can ever say.
The sign ‘closed for business as usual’ hangs permanently now. Not closed through popular demand, but I feel the shop has had its day, I can do other things now. All digital stuff will be maintained, perhaps slightly funereal in aspect, but will serve as bookish, community notice boards, especially for Oxford poetry.