After a fantastic kickoff with Junot Díaz, the Word Up Birthday Fund Drive continues tonight!

Photo credit: Paul Lomax/DNAinfo

IT HAS BEGUN. We are still reeling with delirious joy at last night’s Kickoff Celebration for our Birthday Fund Drive! After a jubilant introduction by Sandra Garcia-Betancort of NoMAA, none other than Junot Díaz spoke emphatically about so many things that we Word Up volunteers think about in between those hard moments of operating a bookshop/arts space in a neighborhood that is so bursting with arts and culture that the lack of spaces to enjoy and reflect on them is startling.

After wiping off the sweat after rolling around furniture, sneezing our way through piles of used books to process, rubbing our bleary eyes after replying to scores of emails in a night after a full day of work elsewhere, and choreographing our days around surprise plumbing incidents, we return time and again to why we do this: because of our belief in open spaces and access, in alternative exchange and relationships, in connecting with narrative no matter how it’s created, in remembering the past and not being complacent to a future you know is flawed, in living and art and humanness. We have and love our dreams, but our lives have been exponentially enriched this past year as we’ve destroyed those dreams—but only so they could graduate to REALITIES.

But we digress. So, we all sat or stood in a hot sweaty room and reflected on all these things as Junot invited a real conversation with the audience.

Photo credit: ArtByDjBoy

And then Junot read from his forthcoming book! Check out the audio from the reading here:

http://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F49024465&show_artwork=true

More news and pics of the night can be seen on Uptown Collective and DNAinfo. Also check out a preview for the Birthday Fund Drive that was in print in yesterday’s El Diario!

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THANK YOU to all who attended last night—and remember that last night was only the beginning. We have another 9 nights of Birthday Fund Drive events to celebrate 1 year of growing a community bookshop right here in Washington Heights, and we hope you will join us. Your crucial support at this time will ensure that we can keep this up!

Please check out the full Birthday Fund Drive lineup here. Additionally help us out by becoming a Continuing CSB member here. This new option, to become a Continuing CSB member, allows you to donate $5 each month to Word Up (via one of our sponsors, Seven Stories Institute; the Word Up program gets all proceeds from CSB shares), which gives you ongoing benefits as well. You still have the option to become a one-time CSB member.

Join us TONIGHT for la Noche de Poetas y Trovadores, featuring “La Romantica” Bernarda Dávila (Dominican Republic), Mary Gratereaux (Dominican Republic), Diogenes Abreu (Dominican Republic), and Claudia Prado (Argentina), and more, with music by Sabrina Lastman (Uruguay) and Roberto Poveda (Cuba). Though the readings will be in Spanish, any Noche de Poetas y Trovadores could surely be enjoyed by speakers and readers of any language, as poetry and music are transcendant like that. And with the included food and drink you can enjoy, WHY NOT SUPPORT WORD UP TONIGHT?

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