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.

Monday, June 22, 2009

W. S. Merwin at riverrun

photo by Christopher P. Stephens May 1983

Wiliam Stanley Merwin read his poetry to an appreciative crowd at riverrun in 1983.

W.S. Merwin, poet, and F.A. Scioscia, riverrun proprietor, met at the reading, but they may have met unknowingly earlier. They overlapped. Merwin spent part of his childhood in Scranton Pennsylvania, where Scioscia spent his entire childhood.

Scranton is surrounded by ancient hills. When these men were children, and even later when I was a child, acres of slag from the coal mines lay in the outskirts of the city. Nothing grew on these slag heaps. Blue flames of slow combustion shimmered over them continually. The slag was on fire for decades.

Merwin and Scioscia had something else in common besides this coincidence of childhood location. The men had a similar characteristic manner, a similar largeness of connections. Some people called it an aura, some a gentleness of spirit.
Not me though. Aura or whatever, I think those were fierce spirits. They were forceful and swiftly moving, like mighty rivers.
Their spirits raged but each man interacted with others in a way that was disarmingly gentle. Maybe that combination is what makes poetry.

When Merwin read at riverrun, he already had quite a reputation as a prolific translator, a Literary Soldier against the U.S. war in Vietnam, an early environmentalist and, most importantly, a sterling poet. Academy of American Poets
Modern American Poetry merwin
Steven Barclay Agency article on Merwin
19 minute audio interview

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