Christopher P. Stephens, Bookman

Chris Stephens has been a book dealer since 1965 - earlier if you count childhood buying and selling.

Stephens has sold major collections to university libraries all over the world. He has operated appealing bookstores in Mt. Carroll, Illinois, Hastings on Hudson, NY and several in NYC, NY. He is a wholesale dealer to other bookstores all over the world.

Chris loves books.

Stephens now maintains a lively internet operation out of his new home in Scranton, PA.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Bob Wilson at Phoenix Bookshop

photo by Christopher P. Stephens - September 1979
Bob Wilson in his Phoenix Bookshop

     Bob Wilson was the proprietor of the Phoenix Bookshop in Greenwich Village.  His stock was almost entirely poetry.  Phoenix was probably the best store for poetry ever, anywhere.

Wilson knew the material.  He knew the books and he knew the poets.  He encouraged and supported poets.  He published poetry at the store.

Any walk-in customer was welcome to purchase books from the Phoenix bookshelves, but you had to pass various qualifying tests before you had a chance at the treasures tucked away in drawers and boxes.

     The Phoenix Bookshop was opened in the 1950s.  Bob Wilson took it over in 1962 and developed it into a renowned poetry community.  Poets and poetry enthusiasts frequented the store,  became friends with Wilson, and bought and sold books and manuscripts.

With such a remarkable stock, Bob Wilson issued interesting book catalogues.   He also collected books himself.  His collection of Gertrude Stein material was matchless.

Wilson ran the store and, through the store, pumped vigor and well-being into the poetry community until he had to close down Phoenix in 1988.

If the store itself does not rise again from the ashes, perhaps the spirit of the store will.

Bob Wilson wrote several books.  Seeing Shelley Plain: Memories of NY Legendary Phoenix Bookshop is published by Oak Knoll Press

The University of Delaware has Bob Wilson's James Purdy collection and includes a glowing paragraph of Wilson and Phoenix on their website. 

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