Berni Dwan – My Dublin book odyssey

Berni Dwan teaches journalism, history, English literature and creative writing in Dublin. Her web site is a response to news developments and the capricious vagaries of life. This is done through satirical essays, articles and poetry. Berni regularly reads her poetry at open mic night in The Irish Writer’s Centre. Her work has been broadcast on Sunday Miscellany and The Quiet Quarter. The only object in life that she desperately wants to own is a working time machine. Interested in the past; curious about the future; she doesn’t want to live forever; will keep putting new words in the little black book until she runs out of words.


My Dublin book odyssey – late nineteen seventies

Money to spend
Burning a hole in my pocket
Six destinations
I’ll stop at Bewely’s half way
For a white coffee and a sticky bun
Come along with me
I’ll start at…


Eblana book shop Grafton Street

Tables exhibiting
Books, beautiful books
Big, brassy, bold
Hardback over hardback
Pangolin layers of lettering
Jester clad in
motely varicoloured coats
Embossed, entitled, engaging
Attractive, appealing, alluring.
I will buy a bargain tome
on some obscure historical event;
Last gasp of fame
in the dying embers of some author’s high hopes


Greens Clare Street

It’s the bottle-green wrought iron
that I love;
Looks like a converted garret inside
Damp though.
I imbibe the dust motes
The real gems are upstairs
Leavings from seminary libraries
Monastic collections
On sale to rejecters
of church, chapel and meeting
Ejectors of deities and idols
But with an eye
For old school erudition.
My quarry will be branded
With faded notes
from long dead scholars.


Fred Hanna’s Nassau Street

A cosy, narrow shop
Would sit well in old Amsterdam.
I should cycle there
on a high Nelly;
Fill my basket with literary charms.
This high shop shrinks in the shadow of
Good Queen Bess’
gift to the ruling classes in 1592
No shortage of customers then;
I am never disappointed
with its booty


Hodges Figgis Dawson Street

A plenitude of possibilities
An embarrassment of choice
A maze of masterpieces
to my Alice of curiosity;
A corpulent canister of
Magnum opera
for my Falstaffian appetite.
I will leave sated
From my over-extended browsing.


Paperback Centre Suffolk Street

Walls plastered in a tie dye of
Psychedelic appellations
Sleek, shiny, smooth
Pastiche of duller manuscripts
in line with current trends –
Youthful predilections.
I dally, deliriously,
This one? No, this one.
I will leave with a bouquet of poesy
decorated with assonance.
It will be metaphysical
It will ‘batter my heart’
with glorious prospect.


Webbs Aston Quay

Trestles of books under Edwardian awnings;
Books that have seen better days
Mottled, warped;
Books with their own history –
School trophies, scouting rewards, church prizes
Gifts to long dead recipients
Witnesses to another realm
Occupants in a previous domain
On sale beside the rolling sludge
that passes for Dublin’s river
In the nineteen seventies.

If I have time
I will cross O’Connell Bridge
and lose myself in the hypermarket
that is Eason’s book shop.

©Copyright Berni Dwan 2015

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