Husband-and-wife Jared White and Farrah Field recently opened Berl’s Poetry Shop, a bookstore on Front Street in DUMBO devoted to collections of verse. We spoke to them by email about the state of poetry in Brooklyn, and also about how to get people who think they don’t like poetry to reconsider.
What gave you the confidence to open a bookstore now when so many bookstores have been closing?
Actually, we see so many great offbeat bookstores opening up under the radar and thriving. Obviously, it’s a struggle, but we hope that by focusing entirely on poetry—and we are both poets ourselves—we can harness our passion and knowledge to create something unique and open-ended, a gallery for books we love. This romance gives us confidence that we can share with people, both those already invested in poetry and those who are merely curious. Fortunately, there are more poetry publishers than ever, and with online journals and social media, more ways to stay connected to everything happening in poetry across the country and the world. We focus particularly on limited-edition handmade books and micropresses, so our shelves are full of great writing that can’t be found most places. We have the freedom to experiment and the privilege to be joining a community that’s strong and vibrant. We aren’t trying to be the most comprehensive bookstore—just an interesting, fun space.