Next Saturday: Projections: The Faces Behind the Dolls / Los Rostros Detrás de las Muñecas

PROJECTIONS_MARCH_DOLLS-01Our next Projections screening is of the documentary The Faces Behind the Dolls / Los Rostros Detrás de las Muñecasdirected by Freddy Vargas and produced and researched by Mary Ely Peña-Gratereaux—about the Dominican immigrant women who labored at the Madame Alexander Doll company in New York City. Their stories demonstrate how the world economic system shaped and transformed the lives of immigrants as they integrated themselves into the US labor market, and ultimately how globalization and its discontents drowned many of these workers’ dreams as production shipped to China when the company closed its doors. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers.

Saturday, March 22, 2014
6:30 PM
Word Up Community Bookshop / Librería Comunitaria
2113 Amsterdam Avenue @ 165th St.
Admission: $5 (reduced to $3 if you sign up as a Continuing CSB Member—learn more about the CSB member program here)

Face Out: Bird of Paradise by Raquel Cepeda



Next in our Face Out series . . .
Bird of Paradise by Raquel Cepeda 
Thursday, March 20 @ 7 PM
Word Up – 2113 Amsterdam Avenue @ 165th St.

Born in Harlem and raised (mostly) in Inwood to Dominican parents, award-winning journalist, cultural activist, and documentary filmmaker Raquel Cepeda is the author of Bird of Paradise: How I Became Latina. Equal parts memoir about Cepeda’s coming of age in New York City and Santo Domingo, and detective story chronicling her year-long journey to discover the truth about her ancestry, the book also looks at what it means to be Latina today.

Raquel Cepeda is currently in production on Deconstructing Latina, a documentary focusing on a group of troubled teenage girls in a suicide prevention program who are transformed through an exploration of their roots via the use of ancestral DNA testing. Cepeda’s writings have been widely anthologized and her byline has been featured in media outlets include the New York Times, Associated Press, the Village Voice, MTV News,, and many others. Visit Cepeda at

Join Raquel Cepeda and Word Up in celebrating the paperback release of Bird of Paradise.

This Sunday: Word Up CSB Book Harvest!


This Sunday, March 16th, 3–6 PM, join current CSB members at Word Up Community Bookshop for an exclusive first pick at a huge selection of used books during this very special event. Entertainment and light refreshments—courtesy of Mambi Restaurant and Santos Catering—will be provided.

The Word Up CSB (Community Supported Bookshop) is a bookshop member program modeled on neighborhood CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture), which help local farmers sustain their operations. Check out the full details on our CSB page.

Not a CSB member yet? You can join at the event:

Basic Share is $20. When you join, you receive a hand-silkscreened tote bag, 6 wooden coins redeemable for used books, and special member-only opportunities. (Click HERE to become a Basic CSB Member.)

Continuing CSB Membership is $5/monthOnce you join, you receive a wooden token per month redeemable for used books, and special member-only opportunities. (Click HERE to become a Continuing CSB Member.)

A School Share is $50 and is an option for any school or educational organization. Every student in your class gets a wooden nickel, and the teacher gets the tote bag.  (To become a School CSB Member—or to sponsor a School Share for a classroom that is not your own—email

Join hundreds of your neighbors who have joined since we launched the program in December 2011. (An article about the program launch was published in DNAinfo.) 

Special thanks to the Uptown Community Church for organizing the Cash Mob that will be taking place during the CSB Book Harvest! For more information about the Cash Mob, see

New exhibition: Yael Ben-Zion’s Intermarried

YaelBenZion_postcardWe at Word Up Community Bookshop are ecstatic to present a new exhibition by Yael Ben-Zion, a thoughtful and talented photographer from our neighborhood whose work first caught our eye with her monograph 5683 miles away, which we didn’t get our hands on till we had nearly closed down our original Word Up location. We kept that book close till we could open our bookshop once again, and throughout those long months that we worked toward reopening, Yael had been finishing up another project, on intermarried couples in our community. A year or two ago, we would never have imagined just how much significance the topic of intermarriage would carry for many members of the Word Up volunteer staff. But 2014! Whoa, what a year! It turns out that it is just the right time for us to be welcoming Yael Ben-Zion and her work into the space.

Photographs by Yael Ben-Zion
Curated by Gabriel de Guzman

Exhibition On View: March 9 – April 9, 2014 

Sunday, March 9, 3–5 PM
Opening Reception and Book Signing with the Artist

Sunday, March 30, 5:30pm 
Discussion with Yael Ben-Zion and Lise Funderburg,
author of Black, White, Other: Biracial Americans Talk About Race and Identity,
Moderated by Gabriel de Guzman

Following her award winning monograph 5683 miles away (Kehrer, 2010) in which Yael Ben-Zion considered the meaning of “normal life” in her homeland of Israel, Ben-Zion now fixes her camera on another personal, yet politically charged theme: intermarriage. Her second monograph with Kehrer, Intermarried, which publishes nationally this spring following a winter unveiling in New York, explores a complex issue with insight and sensitivity. The book includes a foreword by Amy Chua, an essay by Maurice Berger, and an afterword by Yael Ben-Zion.

Ben-Zion initiated Intermarried in 2009 by contacting an online parenting group in Washington Heights, the Manhattan neighborhood where she resides with her husband and twin boys. She invited couples that define themselves as “mixed” to participate, leaving the definition of intermarriage open to the interpretation of the respondents. Her own marriage “mixed,” she was interested in the many challenges faced by couples that choose to share their lives regardless of their different origins, ethnicities, races or religions.

The families presented in this book gave Ben-Zion access to their homes to photograph themselves, their children, and the spaces they live in. These images are not straightforward portraiture or documentation, but rather intimate moments and depictions, which allude to the personal experiences of Ben-Zion’s subjects within a wider social and political context. Through layered images and revealing texts culled from a questionnaire she asked her subjects to fill out, Ben-Zion constructs a subtle, reality based narrative in which she explores and interprets the complex, multifaceted issues posed by intermarriage.
It is Ben-Zion’s hope that her new book will create a “platform for thinking and talking about issues that are very personal but have vast social and political implications.” In light of the current public discourse surrounding interracial and interfaith marriage, the publication of this book is very timely.

The Intermarried exhibition debuted at La Galeria at Boricua College in Washington Heights in January 2014. The Bronx Art Exchange wrote this about the show: “. . . The lines are blurring all around us with intermarriage. It is doing the great service of shattering stereotypes and is, part in parcel, the very dream that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of and yearned for all Americans to reach . . . Ben-Zion’s work is powerful because it captures the essence of what is happening in our country today and the very nature of how identities in the future will be dramatically different than anything we know today.”

Projections: A Place at the Table


Saturday, March 8th 
6:00 PM
Word Up Community Bookshop
2113 Amsterdam Avenue @ 165th St.
Admission: $5 (reduced to $3 if you sign up for a Continuing CSB Membership)

Please join us for our next Projections screening, which is a collaboration among City Harvest’s Healthy Neighborhoods Initiative, Word Up Community Bookshop, and Partnership for a Healthier NYC.  


50 Million Americans—1 in 4 children—don’t know where their next meal is coming from. A Place at the Table tells the powerful stories of three such Americans, who maintain their dignity even as they struggle just to eat. In a riveting journey that will change forever how you think about the hungry, A Place at the Table shows how the issue could be solved forever, once the American public decides—as they have in the past—that ending hunger is in the best interests of us all. 

The screening will be followed by a panel and Q&A with 
JOEL BERG, executive director of New York City Coalition Against Hunger, and author of All You Can Eat: How Hungry Is America?; 
* YVONNE STENNETT, executive director of Community League of the Heights
* MAUDENE NELSON, community nutrition consultant
* DAMARIS CAMILO, 14 Brothers Deli

3 Wednesday Word Up happenings!

So many Word Up–related events in one evening! Tonight! On a Wednesday!! Perhaps one of these  will be up your alley:


Documentary screening 
Word Up, 2113 Amsterdam Avenue
Wednesday, February 26th
Time: 6:30 PM

Dorothy Day: Don’t Call Me A Saint tells the story of the New York writer and Catholic anarchist who at the height of the Depression unwittingly created what would become a worldwide peace and social justice movement. The Catholic Worker persists to this day in over 180 houses of hospitality and soup kitchens across the United States, in Europe, Australia, Canada and Mexico.

Interviews with Dorothy, her daughter, and close intimates coupled with never-beforeseen family photographs, personal writings and powerful archival footage paint a dramatic picture of Dorothy’s most difficult journey to create and live out a vision of a more just world. For more information:

Dorothy’s social-justice-activist granddaughter, Martha Hennessy, will also be joining us for discussion after the movie.


What: Comedy and variety show (Word Up in the lobby)
Location: United Palace of Cultural Arts, 4140 Broadway
Wednesday, February 26th
Time: 7 PM

“Tuesday nights at Word Up” have been synonymous with Eric Vetter’s No Name show since the first summer Word Up was open at 4157 Broadway (which was, coincidentally, across the street from the United Palace before the United Palace of Cultural Arts was begun as a cultural arts organization). As soon as Word Up returned in physical form at 2113 Amsterdam, No Name returned to our lives on Tuesdays once again.  Eric and his crew, however, have been putting together these shows for many more years than this, and tonight’s event at UPCA is a celebration of the 20th anniversary. Word Up is proud to be tabling in the lobby on this momentous occasion!


What: Storytelling Jam
Location: The Chipped Cup, 3610 Broadway @ 149th St.
Date: Wednesday, February 26th
Time: 7:30 PM

The Harlem Sound Project is graciously doing a fundraiser for Word Up, and appropriately, it’s a storytelling jam! Come  and enjoy an evening of live music and storytellers from all walks of life. If you want to tell a story of your own, contact We hope to have HSP perform at the bookshop soon!



Projections: Bling: A Planet Rock


Saturday, February 22, 2014
Word Up Community Bookshop
2113 Amsterdam Avenue @ 165th St.

Join us on Saturday night for the next film in our Projections series!

Bling: A Planet Rock—directed and co-produced by Inwood/Washington Heights native, author, and documentary filmmaker Raquel Cepeda—is a critically acclaimed feature documentary about the intersection of hip-hop, diamonds, and the decade-long conflict in Sierra Leone. The film features Raekwon (Wu-Tang Clan), Paul Wall, Puerto Rican emcee and reggaeton artist Tego Calderón, Kanye West, Sierra Leone’s hip-hop community, and others.

Meet Raquel Cepeda on March 20 at Word Up, for the paperback release of her book, Bird of Paradise: How I Became Latina. Equal parts memoir about Cepeda’s coming of age in New York City and Santo Domingo, and detective story chronicling her year-long journey to discover the truth about her ancestry, the book also looks at what it means to be Latina today. Visit her website at