Monthly Archives: July 2011

We didn’t close yesterday.

“It’s more than a bookstore. It’s a community effort.”
—Sandra Garcia Betancourt

“It’s like being in your living room with a sound system and literature all around. It’s a nice, cozy vibe.”
—Stephanie Araujo

Do we keep getting placed in Harlem because that is where the yellow cab map stops? Hmmm . . .



We are slow at the internet. You should just come and visit.

Sometimes these event previews happen on our site, sometimes they don’t. We can’t be at the internet all the time. But one way to always find out what is going on at Word Up is to stop in to your neighbourhood bookshop. We try to keep stocked with flyers and we try to transcribe everyone’s crazy penmanship from the mailing list as quickly as possible. 🙂 But it doesn’t always happen fast enough to keep up with the roller coaster that has been Word Up. We are proudly a 100% volunteer staff. We have other jobs, and other commitments, and sometimes life brings us downtown, or over a river, or crashing to sleep. But we do our best, and we hope you feel it, and can join in in whatever way you can.

And: thank goodness for others who promote and document!

This past Tuesday night was the launch party for the literary journal Gigantic Sequins. They made a super cheery emblem promoting the event, were endlessly friendly when gathered, and sold some copies of their new issue 2.2. We were enthused by their enthusiasm. Copies of new and back issues are still available in the literary journals section of the shop.

And thanks to chronic documenter and our Facebook Master Dj Boy, here’ s a quick peek at Monday night’s event with Fractious, Kaboom, WFMU, and Motion Picture Purgatory—

—and a shot of Word Up’s beloved volunteer coordinator Robin Glasser reading on Friday, July 8:

Uptown photographer Paul Lomax has also done an amazing job documenting some Word Up events, like at the Here and There: Travel Writings reading on Thursday, July 7, with our Tweet Master Led Black, Lola Koundakjian, Iskandar Andrews, and Veronica Liu—

and one of our early readings with Meena Alexander and Rebeca C. Rivera:

Soon we’ll post part of a video by Will Alicea (Will Teez) from the local teen performance of Dig It!

To all our documentarians and supporters: You make the place look great. Thank you!

The last planned event before the non-closing on July 14 is The Led Black Book Club, bringing together Jon Michaud (When Tito Met Clara) and Matthew Gallaway (The Metropolis Case): Wednesday, July 13, 7pm.

Kaboom + Fractious + WFMU + Motion Picture Purgatory


Tonight’s reading brings together a couple of Word Up’s key collaborators:

Fractious Press, a community publisher in Washington Heights, is one of the main groups responsible for initiating Word Up.

And Kaboom Press, based in Washington Heights for more than fifteen years, was co-founded by Inju Keum, who is Word Up’s event coordinator, and who also put together the mystical corner you’ve all seen at the shop:

In this corner are many rare things only available at Word Up.

Inju and Vern first met at a vendor fair on the Lower East Side in early 2009, then went on to collaborate on other fairs together at the Ding Dong Lounge at 106 Street and Columbus Ave. The poster for the May 2010 fair was created by underground cartoonist and neighbour Mike Diana, one of the featured presenters at tonight’s event.

Happily, Word Up is even closer to home. Tonight, Fractious Press readers will start off, including fiction writer Buzz Poole (whose short story collection I Like to Keep My Trouble on the Windy Side of Things was praised by Mr. Adam “Go the F*ck to Sleep” Mansbach himself); poet/tinselartist K. Abigail Walthausen (whose poetry book The Internet has a hole in every page); and poets Steve Hann (of the two snappy little booklets mentioned in the NYT blog post about Word Up) and Nikkiesha N. McLeod (whose poetry book Canceled Without Prejudice is forthcoming).

Because many have asked about it: K. Abigail Walthausen made the Word Up tinfoil painting near the front door. Here is another sample of her work, and more can be seen at

Then we’ll have readings from DJs who are also fiction writers at the freeform radio station WFMU, which broadcasts to Manhattan at 91.1 FM and at Readers include Kurt Gottschalk of Inwood (host of the show Miniature Minotaurs and author of the new book Little Apples), Amanda Nazario (of the show Nazario Scenario on FMU’s Give the Drummer Radio and on Washington Heights Free Radio), and Bronwyn Carlton (of the long-running show Thunk Tank with Bronwyn and Jay).*

Next up, from the Kaboom camp, Robin Martin, winner of 2009 Tennessee Williams Fiction Writing Contest for her short story “1969,” will be reading, and Mike Diana and Carlo Quispe will be presenting URANUS #1:

URANUS #1: Within the pages of their collaborative “Gay Love Comix,” Carlo Quispe, Mike Diana, and Shane Uht let their subconscious desires and fantasies roam freely, gleefully blurring distinctions between pleasure and pain, the public and the private, the sacred and the profane. Quickly executed ink drawings, in which draftsmanship is sacrificed for rawness and spontaneity, give visual manifestation to situations rarely seen in comics of any kind: lovers arguing over their addictions and engaging in explicit sex acts involving razor blades, an “electric eel robot”, and—perhaps most shockingly—genuine and candidly expressed affection for one another. 

And finally, to close off the night, we have an addition from one of the events this past Saturday: Rick Trembles’s Motion Picture Purgatory + Short Films: Using a mix of powerpoint, spoken word, and hand-drawn biographical anecdotes, Montreal artist Rick Trembles narrates how he first got into macabre movies and comic books as a youngster influenced by the Canadian WWII comics his father published, and how Trembles merged the two in the early eighties when his movie review/comic strip Motion Picture Purgatory started running in the Montreal Mirror. The presentation details how the strips bumpy early controversial history meshes with Trembles’s own personal life and continuing censorship battles, while giving insight into his patented process of condensing pertinent plot points via creepy x-ray vision cross-sections, maniacal maze-like aerial views, and screwy schematics! Come say hi face-to-face to the cartoonist the Guardian called “a genius” & Robert Crumb declared “even more twisted & weird” than himself.

*If you are a WFMU listener, come early for snacks and refreshments provided by the station, then after the event head up the street to Reynolds (Broadway/180 St.) to continue the good times!

Sunday events

Yesterday was a packed day—thanks to all who came out to see Elizabeth Balaguer read children’s tales, Maggie Hernandez host her Magic of Succeeding workshop, and the World War 3 comics and music reading. Due to projector problems, Rick Trembles, whose Motion Picture Purgatory presentation was truncated yesterday because of an epic technological disaster, will be added onto Monday night’s event with Kaboom Press, Fractious Press, and WFMU.


Poetry reading with Yvelisse Fanith and friends.

Join Louffa Press for a performance and reading featuring Mike Topp, David Welper, Greg Gerke, Tamara Yadao, rahrahree!, Ben Bush, Daniel Nester, Bradford Nordeen, Nicholas Boggs, and David Moscovich. BIOS below.

Fiction Circus reading with Jeanne Thornton and Kevin Carter. Fiction Circus is a literary magazine, performance group, and official voice in the wilderness, tasked with spreading awareness of fiction as a thing to be desired, not dreaded, in American life. It began in Austin, Texas in 2005 and has done performances combining original short fiction with guerrilla theater, live music, and dramatic visuals in Austin, New York, Boston, MA, and other places. It lives

Jake Marmer is a poet and performer residing in Washington Heights. His work has appeared in the Forward, Tablet Magazine, Mima’amakim, Blue Jew Yorker, Zeek, Jewish Currents, and other publications. He has performed extensively in New York and Jerusalem with various jazz personalities. His debut collection Jazz Talmud will be publisher by Sheep Meadow Press this fall. More info:



Greg Gerke is the author of There’s Something Wrong With Sven, a book of short fiction published by BlazeVOX [Books], and helps run a reading series called Soda Series at Soda Bar in Brooklyn Heights. He edits very short fiction for ArtVoice and is a member of the National Society of Book Critics.

Nicholas Boggs will be reading from his forthcoming book about James Baldwin (Watch out for the precision of Boggs’ sentences! Yow!) and perhaps presenting an out-of-print children’s book by Baldwin.

Mike Topp was born in Washington, DC. He is currently living in New York City unless he has died or moved. His recent books include FUGITIVE POPE from Louffa Press and SASQUATCH STORIES from Publishing Genius.

Daniel Nester is the author of How to be Inappropriate from Soft Skull Press and an/the editor of the We Who Are About to Die books and culture website.

David Moscovich founded Louffa Press to promote new, innovative microfictions in limited run, handmade editions. His stories and interviews have appeared in Word Riot, Rain Taxi, The Rumpus, Anemone Sidecar, Fringe and others. He has been playing the amplified bicycle for seven years and lives in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

Bradford Nordeen is a film and pop culture writer, who also curates the queer film series Dirty Looks. He is tentatively going to read a piece about his recent experience at Sonar Music festival in Barcelona, nostalgia and rave culture called I Care Because You Do.

David Welper is a published poet, psych nurse, occasional artist and jazz fiend, who likes sushi, redheads and being alive. He has the same same birthday as david moscovich.

Ben Bush has contributed to the San Francisco Chronicle, The Believer, Poets and Writers and the book “Whatcha Mean, What’s a Zine?” from Houghton-Mifflin.

Also included will be the equally excellent David Welper, Tamara Yadao and rahrahree! Rumor has it there will be some surprising collaborative performances. 


We’ve barely had a moment to ourselves since the grand opening of Word Up, the pop-up community bookshop in Washington Heights, NYC. We’re getting new stock every day—including unique products that were made especially for Word Up—and the place is full of neighbours and the best kind of energy found when a lot of people come together and volunteer to build something they’ve never had before: a bookstore in their own neighbourhood.

Word Up has been a gathering place for the community. This shot is so exemplary that it looks like it was staged, but it was not!

Over the past three weeks we’ve hosted readings by zinesters, novelists, comic book artists, performance artists, travel writers, poets—both famous and first-time, English and Spanish, teen and adult; live music—free improv, hip-hop, Latin jazz, poetry/performance; informative publishing Q&As; children’s story hours; knitting and crafting circles; women’s self-defense clinics; lit journal showcases; and even a solo play about community organic farming performed from the point of view of the soil!

Will MacAdams shares his work on organic farming and community artmaking to an attentive crowd on Sunday afternoon. Best growing-veggie hat ever.

The New York Times swung by the grand opening, the NY Daily News was here last week (print only), and thanks to the Manhattan Times, the Uptown Collective, and others—including CUNY TV during a segment airing near the end of August—you can peek inside without trekking uptown. But why wouldn’t you visit?

Most visitors have expressed the wish to have the bookshop stay in the space longer, and have asked—very insistently!—what they could do to make that happen.

Nisha (l.) is going to write a book she can one day share with other kids at the shop, and Hillary (r.) found books she had been looking for in the Free/Exchange pile by the door.

A lot of what you can do is just that: ask, insist, make your opinions known in any way you can to as many people as you can. Get the word out about Word Up. 

Making latent thoughts known played a big part in pushing this community bookshop into existence. And now, as of last night, we have this tidbit of news to share:

We can stay through the end of September!

Your voices, talking, asking, participating, coaxing, have helped make this happen. The overwhelming support you have shown for Word Up, as well as fervent discussions between Vantage Residential’s Raquel Batista and Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance’s Sandra Garcia Betancourt, will allow the shop to continue for a little bit longer, because the community wants it, and the community needs it.

Todd Mintz wants a bookstore in our neighbourhood to exist when little Isaac is old enough to read.

And beyond September? We shall see. First things first. . . .

Now that we aren’t moving out this Thursday, July 14, we need more help to sustain this space over the longer term. If you are able to donate or lend any of the following, please get in touch:

—Air conditioning repair services
—Construction/wall/ceiling repair services
—PC computer & monitor
—Toilet paper & paper towels
—Fans (while waiting for A/C repair)
—Lights/lamps & bulbs
—Heavy-duty extension cords
—Music stand
—VOLUNTEERS of all kinds—especially daily staffers and someone who could assist Seven Stories Institute with book receiving and accounting

Please email with your desires and skills!

And finally, continue to USE the space that is Word Up. It is yours, so engage with it. Word Up is at 4157 Broadway, at 176 Street. The closest subway is the A train to 175 Street. Shop hours are 4-9pm weekdays, 12-4pm weekends.* And get in touch if you want to volunteer, consign books, host an event, or join the Word Up mailing list.

*Because we thought we might be closing up shop for good this coming Thursday, we are PACKED with events this weekend, with FOUR EVENTS PER DAY. Shop hours will be extended on Saturday, July 9, from 12pm to 6pm, and on Sunday, July 10, from 12pm to 8pm. More info about those events in a subsequent post.