In this episode of 'Poem of the Week' Alexis Lateef reads 'Girl in Fremantle Bookshop'. ABR Editor, Peter Rose, introduces Alexis who then reads and discusses her poem.
Girl in Fremantle Bookshop
You squirrel away musty editions of Virginia Woolf
but living in Fremantle, with its failing shops
and unstable rents, was going to hurt –
surviving on Vegemite is not sustainable.
You make do with South Beach on Sundays
and mental snapshots of the harbour at 6am.
You wheel book displays into the gaze
of coffee shops where others write.
You lie awake worrying about conversations
regarding the merit of the new Donna Tartt
with middle class housewives
who will find an excuse to buy something else.
Of course, it’s a job that attracts romantics,
who preach the only thing left to preach.
Believers and would-be lovers visit on Fridays,
bringing you chai lattes and books of their own,
so that every time you decide to unpack
your last box, and sell your last Mills and Boon,
you walk back into the only chapel you’ll ever preside over,
and bump into someone else who loves Woolf,
who reaches calmly across the counter
and unlocks the register of your heart.
Alexis Lateef is a Perth based writer. She has a BA (English Literature) from the University of Western Australia and has worked as a tutor, bookseller and library officer. Her work has been published in Westerly, Australian Poetry Journal, Southerly, Page Seventeen, Cordite, and other journals. She has been a guest at the Perth Poetry Festival, Voicebox, Sturmfrei, Ships in the Night, and the Perth International Writers' Festival. Alexis is the editor of Writ Poetry Review, a Perth journal that began in 2014, and occasionally runs poetry nights at Paper Mountain.