GET BREAKING NEWS IN YOUR BROWSER. CLICK HERE TO TURN ON NOTIFICATIONS.

X

Chloe Halvorson, left, rings up Jon Colegrove’s book purchase Sunday at Boulder’s Innisfree Poetry Bookstore & Cafe. Innisfree closed Sunday after 10 years as one of the nation’s few poetry-only bookstores. (Amy Bounds/Staff Writer)
PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

Lili Noll was a regular at Innisfree’s open mic nights while attending the University of Colorado Boulder, meeting other young poets who formed a large collective they dubbed “Writer’s Block.”

So when she heard the bookstore and café on Boulder’s University Hill was permanently closing Sunday afternoon, she had to make a final visit.

“The news they were closing hit way harder than I thought it would,” said Noll, who graduated from CU Boulder in 2018. “This was where I spent most of my days in college. I have so many memories here. The poetry collective wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t had this place to gather. It is such a community cornerstone.”

Lisa Widdekind looks at the poetry books lining the shelves at Boulder’s Innisfree Poetry Bookstore & Cafe. Innisfree closed Sunday after 10 years as one of the nation’s few poetry-only bookstores. (Amy Bounds/Staff Writer)

A steady stream of customers, sometimes waiting in a line snaking outside the doors to maintain social distancing, stopped by Sunday for one last coffee, tea or look through the shelves.

Named after William Butler Yeats’ poem “The Lake Isle of Innisfree,” the shop opened on 13th Street about a decade ago. At the time, it was  one of only three bookstores dedicated to poetry in the nation. Husband-and-wife co-founders Brian Buckley and Kate Hunter moved Innisfree to a slightly bigger space across the street, 1301 Pennsylvania Ave., in 2016.

Saturday, Buckley and Hunter announced their decision to close the shop on social media, thanking “everyone who made this decade-long dream possible.” Acting manager Chloe Halvorson said the closure “ultimately came down to COVID pressures.”

“We’re on the Hill,” she said. “We’re so dependent on students.”

She added she loved seeing all the customers who came to say goodbye over the weekend.

“It’s been so heartwarming to hear what the place has meant to everyone,” she said.

Customers leave notes at Boulder’s Innisfree Poetry Bookstore & Cafe. Innisfree closed Sunday after 10 years as one of the nation’s few poetry-only bookstores. (Amy Bounds/Staff Writer)

Patrons described Innisfree as not just a bookstore and cafe, but a meeting place and workspace for local poets, writers and artists. On social media, they used words like “sanctuary” and “haven” as they talked about attending open mic nights, listening to guest poets and musicians and spending hours reading and writing at the cafe tables.

While waiting outside in line to visit the coffee shop on Sunday, Josh Bennett said he met his bandmates at Innisfree , where they also played their first gigs.

“This place has really been our community,” he said.

Christopher Clauss said he stumbled into an open mic night not long after moving to Colorado and found the cafe owners were enthusiastic about providing a place to perform.

“It was a welcoming place for all types of people,” he said. “I’ve met some of my favorite people in the state in this building. It’s one of the last true hubs for art in Boulder.”

Lisa Widdekind took a last opportunity to browse the shelves on Sunday, saying the coffee shop was a regular post-climbing stop.

“I liked that it was independent and sort of preserved the old Boulder,” she said. “It’s one more piece of old Boulder falling by the wayside.”

While the bookstore is closing, an online store will remain open. The owners also plan to continue hosting online poetry readings and events.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus