The Sadness of Second Hand Books

Anndra Wilson

30 September 2020

Eleven Poets for Eleven Days

Wigtown Book Festival has asked Hugh McMillan, one of the Scottish Poetry Library’s Champions and a nationally respected poet from Dumfries & Galloway, to curate ‘Eleven Poets for Eleven Days’ for our 2020 festival. 

A poet from the region will be introduced daily, here on our website, along with a video reading of their specially commissioned poem.

Anndra Wilson is the seventh poet in the series.

The Sadness of Second Hand Books

we had never seen their like before
these books,
they were so wonderful.
she said she could tell us a story
about each book
these ones she was selling

but each book was itself
a story of Scotland
no dates and battles, kings and queens
but the real story of our people
Blind Harry, Irvine Welsh, Wendy Wood
McDiarmaid, McIlvannie, McCaig

Neil Gunn, every author
that should grace the shelves
of every writer on Scotland
and be known and loved
it was for me, a Bard's collection
but I was filled with sadness

they came from a Bard
and one who penned verses
on Galloway's Gaelic places
inflexible tongues could not say them
and memory forgot their meaning
but the Bard remembered

the Bard told their story
and she now handed the baton
on to me, with her books;
her own battle with cancer
ahead of her, but her books,
her books, would carry our story forward.

Anndra Wilson

Anndra Wilson is the co-owner of Beltie Books in Wigtown and an enthusiastic campaigner for literature, the Gaelic language and Scottish independence. In his bookshop, various writing groups drink coffee and prosper. 

He himself writes poetry which is usually strongly rooted in landscape and in Scottish history and has a bardic quality to it: it often tells the story of the land and the people who have inhabited it. Like the great bard Willie Neill he writes in Gaelic, Scots and English and is therefore one of the few poets alive to embody the three great languages of Galloway. 

Here he is on elegiac form, reading the poem ‘The Sadness of Second Hand Books’, which somehow conflates the personal with the cultural to reach, wonderfully, an emotional continuum we can all hope for, that our stories will carry on.