Category Archives: Uncategorized

Also Thursday: Decoding the Tablecloth by Gabriela Kohen

DecodingTheTableclothThis Thursday, down the street from Word Up, we’re presenting a show with People’s Theatre Project, in collaboration with Fort Tryon Jewish Center and the YM & YWHA of Washington Heights and Inwood, at the Alianza Dominicana Cultural Center. Check out a story about the show in the Manhattan Times (click here)!

Decoding the Tablecloth
Written and performed by Gabriela Kohen
Directed by Connie Grappo
Thursday, April 24, 2014
Alianza Dominicana Cultural Center
530 West 166th Street (between Audubon and Amsterdam Avenues)
A/C/1 trains to 168th Street

Performance followed by a Q and A with Gabriela Kohen

In this award winning, critically acclaimed, autobiographical one-woman show, Gabriela Kohen questions and explores Latina and Jewish identity. Forced to flee  Poland in 1938, Kohen’s grandmother found herself in Argentina with the one possession she took from home, a tablecloth. Years later, Gabriela finds herself growing up Latina and Jewish in New York with this same tablecloth. From 1970s Brooklyn, to the tango halls of Argentina, to the Warsaw ghetto of the 1940s, Kohen portrays over twenty characters in English, Spanish, and Yiddish in this poignant family story.

“A loving yet unflinching family portrait… Astonishing subtlety of gesture, expression and accent . . . an extraordinarily efficient and moving hour of entertainment”—New York Magazine

“Decoding the Tablecloth is bitter, forgiving and wise.”—Washington Post


People’s Theatre Project, Word Up Librería Comunitaria, Fort Tryon Jewish Center, y YM &YWHA of Washington Heights and Inwood presentan:

Decoding the Tablecloth
Obra escrita y actuada por Gabriela Kohen
Dirigido por Connie Grappo
jueves, 24 de abril
Centro Cultural Alianza Dominicana
530 W. 166th Street (entre avenidas Audubon y Amsterdam)
Tómese el A/C/1 hasta la calle 168
Seguido por una conversación con Gabriela Kohen

En esta obra teatral premiada y autobiográfica, Gabriela Kohen interroga y explora su identidad latina y judía. En 1938, su abuela se vio obligada a escapar de Polonia y se regufió en Argentina con la  única posesión que rescató de su hogar: un mantel. Años después, Gabriela se encuentra creciendo en Nueva York, latina y judía, con ese mismo mantel. Desde Brooklyn en los años ’70 a las salas de tango en Argentina, al gueto de Varsovia de los años 1940s, Kohen actúa más de veinte personajes en inglés, español, e yídish en esta emocionante historia familiar.

“Un retrato familiar cariñoso pero audaz… Sutileza asombrosa de gestos, expresión, y acento… una hora extraordinariamente eficiente y conmovedora de entretenimiento.”—New York Magazine

“Decoding the Tablecloth es amargo, compasivo, y sabio.”—Washington Post

Thursday: Face Out: Judith Kerman and Yoseli Castillo Fuertes


Face Out: A night of poetry and short stories  
w/ Judith Kerman & Yoseli Castillo Fuertes
Thursday, April 24, 2014 @ 7 PM
Word Up Community Bookshop, 2113 Amsterdam Ave.

Between Two Silences / Entre Dos Silencios is a book of remarkable short stories by the great Dominican writer Hilma Contreras (1913-2006), the first woman ever to win the Premio Nacional de la Literatura de la Republica Dominicana (National Prize in Literature of the Dominican Republic), the highest prize in Dominican literature, in 2002. Educated in Europe, Contreras often set her tales in a mysterious landscape, neither and both European and Caribbean.

This edition of Between Two Silences / Entre Dos Silencios by Mayapple Press is translated by Judith Kerman, a poet, performer, and artist who has published eight books or chapbooks of poetry, as well as two books of translations of Cuban and Dominican women poets (White Pine Press, BOA Editions). At Word Up, Judith will be presenting from Between Two Silences, as well as another poetry collection Praises & Offenses: Three Women Poets from the Dominican Republic.

Also reading with Judith this Thursday is Yoseli Castillo Fuertes, who was born in the Dominican Republic in 1972 and at 16 migrated to the United States. She holds a BA in Psychology and an MA in Spanish Literature. She is a bilingual-dominican-latina-lesbian poet-activist-teacher-aunt. Since August 2005 she has been organizing the Gay & Lesbian Bohemian Night, an LGBTQ Open Mic in Washington Heights. Her poems and short stories have appeared in various anthologies in New York, Madrid, Argentina and Santo Domingo. Her poetry book is De eso sí se habla/Of That, I Speak.

Lonnie Holley at Word Up next Wednesday

The amazing and renowned sculptor and musician from Birmingham, Alabama, brings his improvised song world to Word Up, where he will be accompanied by Word Up volunteer Will Glass on drums.

w/ Will Glass
Wednesday, April 16, 2014 @ 7 PM
Word Up Community Bookshop
2113 Amsterdam Avenue @ 165th St.
$10 suggested donation at the door

Lonnie Holley was born on February 10, 1950 in Birmingham, Alabama. From the age of five, Holley worked various jobs: picking up trash at a drive-in movie theatre, washing dishes, and cooking. He lived in a whiskey house, on the state fairgrounds, and in several foster homes. His early life was chaotic and Holley was never afforded the pleasure of a real childhood.

Since 1979, Holley has devoted his life to the practice of improvisational creativity. His art and music, born out of struggle, hardship, but perhaps more importantly, out of furious curiosity and biological necessity, has manifested itself in drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, performance, and sound. Holley’s sculptures are constructed from found materials in the oldest tradition of African American sculpture. Objects, already imbued with cultural and artistic metaphor, are combined into narrative sculptures that commemorate places, people, and events.

Holley did not start making and performing music in a studio nor does his creative process mirror that of the typical musician. His music and lyrics are improvised on the spot and morph and evolve with every event, concert, and recording. In Holley’s original art environment, he would construct and deconstruct his visual works, repurposing their elements for new pieces. This often led to the transfer of individual narratives into the new work creating a cumulative composite image that has depth and purpose beyond its original singular meaning. The layers of sound in Holley’s music, likewise, are the result of decades of evolving experimentation. “Just Before Music” features Holley’s first studio recordings made in 2010 and 2011.

Lonnie and Will will also be performing at Baby’s All Right on April 15th, and at the Studio Museum in Harlem on April 19th. 

Your weekend at Word Up

The Small Idea Family Night. Photo: Adrienne Cichelli

The Small Idea Family Night. Photo: Adrienne Cichelli

As we complete our first eight months at our new location, we’re continually in awe of all the things that take place within the walls of 2113 Amsterdam Avenue. There is nothing like coming from the after-school program we co-facilitate down the street, walking into the store to scores of neighborhood kids and parents singing together during a Family Night organized by The Small Idea, then transitioning the space as efficiently as possible—i.e. cleaning up all the ankle-high popcorn—just in time for Al Jazeera to come to film the next event, the Uptown Freegan Meetup. Yup, just another Wednesday night at Word Up! And a happy eight months it’s been.

With that, we heartily encourage you to come by this weekend for one of these great events: Friday’s usual open mic (7–9pm), Gagá pa’l pueblo in a new Saturday night timeslot (6–9pm), the Joy of Improv workshop with Bob Lamm (Sunday, 3–5pm), and a conversation between this month’s featured gallery artist Yael Ben-Zion and author Lise Funderburg, moderated by Gabriel de Guzman, with refreshments (Sunday, 5:30–7pm). See you soon!

GagaPalPueblo_140329Saturday, March 29 | 6–9pm
Gagá Pa’l Pueblo
Usually taking place every Sunday in the summertime at Anne Loftus Playground at Fort Tryon Park, Gagá pa’l pueblo is a gathering of folks preserving, enhancing, and practicing Afro-Dominican traditional music. Now that it’s a little chillier outdoors, we’re bringing the celebration indoors once a month. And for the first time at Word Up, it’ll be on a Saturday night! Come for the music, stay for the dancing . . .

Sunday, March 30 | 3–5pm
The Joy of Improv with Bob Lamm
Enjoy creating improvisational comedy in a relaxed, supportive atmosphere. No performing experience is necessary—just a willingness to play, experiment, and laugh with others. Instructor Bob Lamm is a writer and teacher who runs the Novels With a Social Conscience Book Club at Word Up. He has taught improv classes at NYU and the CUNY Graduate Center, and has run workshops at Vassar, Sarah Lawrence, the Hebrew Tabernacle, Covenant House, and many high schools.

Sunday, March 30
 | 5:30–7pm
Intermarried Artist Talk: Yael Ben-Zion & Lise Funderburg in discussion, moderated by Gabriel de Guzman
Yael Ben-Zion‘s photography exhibition Intermarried—presenting self-identified “mixed” couples in their everyday environments—is currently on view in the gallery space at Word Up. On Sunday, March 30th, she will be joined by Lise Funderburg, author of Black, White, Other: Biracial Americans Talk about Race and identity, and Gabriel de Guzman, the curator of visual arts at Wave Hill and the curator of this exhibition.

Wednesday: Family Night & Uptown Freegans

UptownFreegansWednesdays are normally our calmest days at the bookshop, but tonight we have not just one but two activities: small idea Family Night, hosted by volunteers Melissa and Kevin Guzman, and the monthly Uptown Freegans Meetup, hosted by volunteer Gio Andollo. See below for more details, and see you tonight at the bookshop!

Wednesday, March 26 | 5:30–7:30pm
small idea Family Night
Come out to Family Night at Word Up for music and fun! We will have bookmaking tables, puppets, games, storytelling, and live music. Discover Word Up, our lovely volunteers, and the friendly space. Find out how to keep this wonderful store vibrant and open to our community for many years to come.

Wednesday, March 26 | 8:30–9pm
Uptown Freegans Meetup
Word Up volunteer and Uptown Freegans founder Gio Andollo will lead a food rescue mission around the neighborhood. See for more information.