Haven for poetry-lovers opens in old Russian church

Ke Jiayun
The Sinan Books: Poetry Store in the former St Nicholas Russian Orthodox church aims to encourage people to write poetry, as well as read it.
Ke Jiayun
Haven for poetry-lovers opens in old Russian church
Wang Rongjiang / SHINE

Sinan Books: Poetry Store opened over the weekend in Huangpu District.

A new bookstore focusing on poetry opened in a renovated Russian Orthodox church over the weekend.

From epics to modern poems, some believe poetry is the language of gods. The new Sinan Books: Poetry Store is in the historic former St Nicholas Church on Gaolan Road in Huangpu District.

It offers more than 1,880 titles, including 600 foreign volumes.

Walking into the store, there is a large, cage-like bookshelf divided into different sections with the countries where the poets are from. Besides China, the books are mainly from 10 countries, including Japan, France, Britain, America, Poland, Italy and Russia.

Prose works, commentaries and biographies related to literature and art are also on sale.

The store's inner structure was designed as a "house within a house," which separates the building's extensions from the original church to protect the historic building. It took the staff more than a year to work out and implement the protection plan.

There is a special section for picture books, both for adults and children. It has more than 500 offerings, including comics and graphic novels.

The store also has sections for books selected by Douban, an online platform like a Chinese version of MySpace which has special interest groups and communities, and the London Review Bookshop.

Besides reading and buying books, customers can also find many interesting Shanghai and St Nicholas Church themed cultural and creative products.

The operation includes art exhibitions and cultural salons held there.

If hunger takes over from the thirst for reading, there is a cafe offering drinks, snacks and desserts.

Haven for poetry-lovers opens in old Russian church
Wang Rongjiang / SHINE

The first customer on Saturday morning was a young woman who heard about the opening 10 days ago and woke up at five that morning to be the first into of the store.

During the opening ceremony, eight poets from different areas of life were invited to to read their works for the audience.

Liao Xiaozhu, a young pilot-poet from the northwestern Shaanxi Province who is now living in Shanghai, shared one of his works, "Ode to Flight."

"You feel unpredictable ups and downs when you pass the clouds, you try to look into the nephogram which cannot be described on words. But it's nothing more than some estimations which seem to be precise, and what we flew by are wastelands."

The bookstore encourages people who have the interest in poetry to write their own poems, regardless of their background. It wants to tell people that everyone can be a poet if they want.

Haven for poetry-lovers opens in old Russian church
Wang Rongjiang / SHINE

The new bookstore is in the renovated former St Nicholas Russian Orthodox church.

Construction of St Nicholas Church began in 1924 at what was then 16 Rue Corneille in the former French Concession.

On February 15, 1994, the building was recognized as a city-level cultural relic preservation unit. It used to be home of a French restaurant called the Ashanti Dome on the upper floor and a Spanish tapas bar on the ground floor called Boca.

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