Innisfree Poetry Bookstore and Café

Come in to read, listen & sort things out

Boulder is home to one of just three poetry-only bookstores in the country, and it’s a gem.

Innisfree Poetry Bookstore and Café on University Hill offers a huge selection of poetry books, widely sourced and precisely arranged from floor to high ceiling.

And there are volumes beyond the volumes:  Tuesday night open-mike readings held 52 weeks a year draw local and traveling poets and standing-room-only crowds. A chockfull events calendar showcases celebrated writers and emerging artists. Teaching alliances with CU and K-12 educators give students fresh angles on literacy. Fair trade coffees fuel the creativity.

“A shop like ours is possible only in a place like Boulder, and it speaks volumes about our community,” says co-owner Brian Buckley.

Brian worked at the renowned Grolier Poetry Bookshop in Cambridge’s Harvard Square during graduate school, where he met his wife and shop co-owner Kate Hunter during a poetry workshop. Innisfree became the culmination of Brian and Kate’s shared dream to create a poetic vocation.  

“The shop is our poem for now,” says Brian, who hopes to write more himself when life with two young children and another on the way evens out. “When people meet, when travelers arrive, when writers express their deepest thoughts in a reading – these are moments of poetry for us. We get to do what we love.”

The space is small and functional – bright, clean and sparse, with big windows and wood tables. If you come for a reading and it’s packed, browse books while you listen. In a quick scan, I saw titles by Ginsberg, Plath, Whitman, Gibran, Kerouac and even Seuss. The organization is quite precise, with sections by period, anthologies, authors, translations and place. Two sections are dedicated solely to Colorado writers.

Innisfree is constantly discovering and highlighting new poets. Customer recommendations, staff awareness, research, and local small press relationships feed the findings.

“Poetry is often printed in small, single runs, so we’ve started to focus on finding out-of-print books,” Brian explains. Via a network of sources, Brian finds extraordinary work rendered dormant on shelves and attic floors, and brings it back to life for customers here in Boulder and beyond. 

Since opening in 2010, Innisfree has become a mecca for poets, readers and writers, studying students, and anyone seeking an everyday oasis for thought and reflection. Wander in. You’ll be glad you did.

*** Read The Lake Isle of Innisfree by William Buckley Yeats.

*** The other U.S. poetry-only bookstores:
Open Books in Seattle, WA
Grolier Poetry Bookshop in Cambridge, MA

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