Boston

A Bookshop Interview with Tim Suermondt

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Poet Tim Suermondt has five full-length collections to his name, the latest JOSEPHINE BAKER SWIMMING POOL from MadHat Press, and he took a few minutes to share his favorite bookshop with me. I still haven’t made my way to Boston to visit any bookshops, and this makes want to go even more. Thanks, Tim!

Favorite Bookshop: The Harvard Coop Bookstore (Cambridge, MA)

Tim: My favorite bookshop is the Harvard Coop at Harvard Square. I actually came to the Coop a bit late, initially spending a lot of time at The Harvard Bookstore (which is not affiliated with the University) and Grolier’s (which surprised me by its tiny space when I first went there.) As for the Coop, I noticed how rather large it was when I went to check it out, especially when compared to the feeble MIT Coop. And seeing a lot of books is always inviting.

Browsing is easy. There are four floors (counting the basement), accessible by elevator or the nice winding wooden staircases. There’s a café on the second floor—can’t say I’m a fan of these outposts, but they’re here to stay. There are chairs for reading, though a few more would be better. I always feel smarter when I’m there; it’s the Harvard air I’m sure.

I quickly came to realize that the Coop has a terrific assortment of books, especially their poetry selection which is the best in town for the latest poetry. My wife, Pui, and I have bought a number of books from the Coop. Just a few days ago we bought Rilke in Paris from Pushkin Press. It’s the type of book I don’t think you’d find elsewhere. I really like the way the poetry anthologies lead in to the poetry books, and from there into essays on poetry then music and travel—a smart, good threading.

The Coop also has a decent section of poetry journals and magazines, along with other fare. I don’t know if it’s unique, but the blending of the students, the locals and the out-of-towners who go there makes for a bustling but most satisfying vibe.

BIO: Tim Suermondt is the author of five full-length collections of poems, the latest JOSEPHINE BAKER SWIMMING POOL from MadHat Press, 2019. He has published in Poetry, Ploughshares, The Georgia Review, Prairie Schooner, Stand Magazine, Galway Review, Bellevue Literary Review and Plume, among many others. He lives in Cambridge (MA) with his wife, the poet Pui Ying Wong.