Monthly Archives: November 2012


Viernes, 30 de noviembre | 5–7pm
@ 810 Broadway #7 (a la calle 11), NYC
Del 28 de noviembre al 1 de diciembre 2012, se llevará a cabo el 8vo Festival de Nueva Poesía “Poetas en Nueva York.”  Por cuatro días, poetas latinoamericanos leerán de su escritura en librerías de Nueva York que proveen libros en español al público, incluyendo la Librería Calima, Movimiento Inmigrante Internacional, Librería Barco de Papel, Queens Museum of Art y City University of New York. En esta ocasión participarán cerca de 30 poetas y otros artistas de diferentes orígenes, en su mayoría residentes de la ciudad. Es organizado por un colectivo que está conformado por artistas de diferentes disciplinas que realizan durante el año actividades como la Maratón Cultural, el micrófono abierto La Otra Orilla y la publicación del periódico cultural Vecindad. Ha sido un honor para Word Up ser invitados a presentar una lectura en beneficio de nuestra librería comunitaria como parte del festival. Estamos agradecidos por poder presentarla en la casa de un familiar de Word Up. Vénganse para una lectura de los poetas siguientes: Miguel Falquez, Osiris Mosquera, Mariana Ayón, Alfredo Villanueva, Carlos Manuel Rivera, Yrene Santos, Manuel Fihman, Carlos Javier Ramos Domenech. Habrá una selección limitada de bebidas. Todos los eventos del festival son de entrada libre. Para más información:

Friday, November 30 | 5–7pm
@ 810 Broadway #7 (at E. 11 St.), NYC
The 8th “Poetas en Nueva York” New Poetry Festival, running from November 28 to December 1. For four days, thirty Latin American poets will read from their work at bookstores throughout New York that carry Spanish-language books—including Librería Calima, Movimiento Inmigrante Internacional, Librería Barco de Papel, Queens Museum of Art y City University of New York. The Poetas en Nueva York collective is composed of artists from different disciplines who coordinate events such as the Maratón Cultural, the open mic La Otra Orilla, and the publication of the cultural review VecindadWord Up was honored to be asked to host an evening of the festival as a benefit for our community bookshop. We are delighted to do so at the home of an avid Word Up supporter. Please join us to hear the work of poets Miguel Falquez, Osiris Mosquera, Mariana Ayón, Alfredo Villanueva, Carlos Manuel Rivera, Yrene Santos, Manuel Fihman, Carlos Javier Ramos Domenech. Light refreshments provided. Festival events are free. More information:

Bring Back Word Up Community Bookshop!

All hands on deck

Most of our memories of Word Up are filled with people and books. But before all that, a small group of neighbors had to physically put everything together to make the place look like a bookshop! Robin Glasser—one of our earliest volunteers and longtime volunteer co-coordinator—was one of the capable hands who helped transform the raw empty storefront at 4157 Broadway into a bookstore. Here is her tale of the grand opening day:

There are six hours left to transform our empty space into Word Up, a community bookstore. My friend Inju, who is responsible for getting me involved in the first place, and I are the only volunteers to arrive. Petite in stature but filled with energy and determination, we get to work.

Several donated shelves, a few on wheels, are waiting for books, and there is a mountain of cartons that needs to be opened. The building super and his able-bodied assistant stop by to see if they can get the lights to work. Inju asks for a ladder. She’s staked out a nook and wants to hang some material as a backdrop for her display of books printed on Kaboom, the small press that she and her partner own. The assistant returns with a handcrafted rustic ladder, which doesn’t look like it would hold a paperweight.

“You’re not gonna climb that thing?!” I exclaim. Squaring tiny shoulders, hammer in hand, Inju ascends. The ladder creaks and shivers. The two sturdy men and I watch, open-mouthed. As the rickety contraption begins a sassy shimmy, I holler, “Can one of you hold onto that thing!” If Inju takes a swan dive, it will be up to me alone to get Word Up together. The hours are speeding along and I’m getting crazy.

A woman enters the shop and is thrilled to learn a real, live bookstore has come to the hood. I beg her to lend a hand. She calls her husband to pick up their child and begins to hang artwork on the wall with the most holes—covering them with canvases. Every time people drop in, I try my damnedest to get them to help. We’re beginning to resemble Santa’s workshop with a limited bunch of elves merrily stacking books, moving cartons, and doing whatever elves do.

The opening night reception is only two hours away. I’m filthy, sweaty, but there’s still so much to accomplish. At last reinforcements arrive with food, wine, more shelves, and an assortment of lights, chairs, and other necessities to make our bookstore launch a success. I decide to leave the remaining transformation in their hands and go home to make myself presentable.

Fashionably late, I can’t believe the crowd chatting vivaciously outside Word Up. I thread my way through, overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and joy. But what really puts a permanent smile on my face is seeing my books displayed in a living, breathing bookstore.

I miss Word Up! After a year and a half, we were forced to close our door when new landlords bought the building. We are searching for a new space and would greatly appreciate your help. Please go to this link to learn more:

To see photos or read more about of our grand opening, check out the New York Times, the Manhattan Times, and the Uptown Collective.

We’ve reached one-quarter of our goal!

Yippee! We’re 25% of the way to our Indiegogo target of $60,000! To help push us along, the Uptown Collective is doing a giveaway—check out this link for details. And THANK YOU to all who have gotten us this far!

Thank you notes made by students at PS 173 after a field trip to Word Up last year.

Indiegogo Perk: Word Up T-shirt

Junot Díaz shows you how great these Word Up T-shirts look.
Photo: Isaacc García

As you may already know, we have an Indiegogo campaign in full swing, to raise funds for Word Up’s programming and a new space to house it all. The other day we explained the backstory to our $5 wooden nickel perk. The next perk we want to show off is our T-shirt.

Rishauna and Daniella model the black heather and blue heather T-shirts.
Photo: Sherry Mazzocchi

This T-shirt, designed by Mary Ann Wincorkowski, looks pretty great, eh? You can read some of the backstory to the T-shirt image in this post from June.

At this very moment, we are participating in a Cyber Monday contest that features this T-shirt perk. If you vote for us on this page, then we have a chance to win bonus funds from Indiegogo. You can even vote once an hour! The deadline for this contest is midnight Wednesday.

Maroon heather T-shirt

Regardless of whether or not we win that contest, for a $30 contribution to our Indiegogo campaign, you can get this T-shirt, a special-edition print with haiku by Word Up volunteers, and a wooden nickel, which can be redeemed for a used book once we reopen.

Kid T-shirts

Adult T-shirts are available from XXS to XXL, in maroon heather, blue heather, and black heather. Kid T-shirts are available in 2T, 3T, and 4T, in bright red or royal blue. They make great gifts for all seasons.

Please contribute to our Indiegogo today! 

Indiegogo Perk: Wooden Nickel

Thanks to all who have contributed to our Indiegogo fundraising campaign! You are all the best. (If you want to join the best, click here.)

Another set of people we want to thank profusely (and who are, simultaneously, the best) are our CSB members. The Word Up Community Supported Bookshop (CSB) is a member program modeled on neighborhood CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture), which help local farmers sustain their operations. The Word Up CSB launched in December 2011, and the Continuing CSB member option was launched in June 2012. Read more about our CSB program here. When members sign up for shares, they receive hand-silkscreened tote bags and 6 or 12 wooden nickels (for Basic or Continuing CSB shares), which are redeemable for used books. While we don’t have a storefront, these can be redeemed at events where we have a presence.

New CSB members gained at the taping of Ohayo Nippon (Good Morning Japan) at Word Up. (January 2012)

It is these wooden nickels—reusable, small, lightweight, novel—that are available to you at the most affordable end of our Indiegogo campaign. This means that if you contribute as little as $5, or any amount above $5, you will receive a signature Word Up wooden nickel that you can spend on a used book as soon as we reopen, or anywhere around the neighborhood where you can find us with books. In this way, your contribution to our Indiegogo campaign is like joining a grand-scale Word Up CSB—rather than simply a charitable donation, you are providing funds in advance for the reopening of Word Up, sharing in the risk and reward, joining in on this local project grown with love. And you can gain at least a used book in return!!!

You must love books and bookshops. Why else are you reading this website? So please don’t hesitate to contribute today!

Thank you!

Thank goodness we met you. You’ve provided some of the most awe-inspiring moments of our lives in the past year and a half. We hope we can see you again soon, ideally at the community bookshop we want to build ’round the way.

If you have some time to kill before that bird or tofurkey is cooked, warm your eyes and watch our video! And have a safe, cheery holiday.

[Video from our Indiegogo campaign]

All ages

Did you know that there are nearly 54,000 residents under the age of 18 in Northern Manhattan—25% of our neighborhood’s population? Volunteer Ben Ehrlich remembers quality time spent with some of our younger volunteers at Word Up:

A dramatic reading of Elizabeth Balaguer’s Mi Carnaval/My Carnival during the celebration of Word Up’s first extension (July 30, 2011)

Stefany and Angela are best friends, but if you forget that Stefany is thirteen while Angela is still only twelve, Stefany gets really pissed. They’ve both just finished seventh grade and every day come straight to Word Up. This is in the early days, when the store would have more holes in the walls than creative ways to cover them, when the inside could only become as light as the given day outside, when it would be up to all those puny little oscillating fans to beat the city’s summer heat. In those days, Stefany and Angela are our most dedicated volunteers. They make colorful calendars, price donated used books, work the register, and perform plays that usually have to do with gossiping, getting into fights, and then making up and hugging in the end. I watch them, awed, and it occurs to me that for this amount of time, these three or four hours a day, these young volunteers are in our care. They’re around us older volunteers—me, Veronica, Will, Tom, Mando, Robin, Rick, Susan, Mary Ann, or whoever else was there at the time—as much as they’re around their teachers, maybe, and we can influence them, our rag-tag crew with nothing in common but some whacked-out energy and bottomless love for each other and this neighborhood we share and want to share better. We establish our collective. We dream about keeping Word Up around long enough for Stefany and Angela to run the store when they’re out of college. We make that our secret goal.


It’s early on a Saturday morning and I’m sitting next to Veronica in a nursing home. The two of us make maybe a dozen citizens here at the Education Sub-Committee meeting for Manhattan Community Board 12. We want to introduce Word Up and what we do, but we’re near the end of the list. So we sit as one by one our neighbors stand up to speak about the children and what’s happening in and out of the schools. They go on and on because there’s so much that’s so wrong and no one dares to cut them off. One man says 200 after school programs were cut by the City the previous spring, including the one that he founded. I’m feeling angry too. I’m thinking, “What are all these kids gonna to do after school, where are they gonna go?” I’m thinking about Stefany and Angela, and I’m thinking about the countless other kids I’ve met at Word Up during my months of steady shifts and the Open Mic and around the neighborhood. After the meeting is adjourned, Veronica and I hand out brochures that say WHAT IS WORD UP? and everyone we meet shakes our hands and looks us in the eye while we tell them about what we’re trying to do in the neighborhood. They say “We need you.”


At our first Rent Party, some tougher-looking older kids that hang out on the corners come through because they hear the music, except now they don’t know what to make of the store. They’ve been up and down the block but never inside. One of them starts to look at the books. He picks one up a book and flips through it and he asks me, “How much?” And even though it’s one of our more expensive titles, and I tell him that, a $22 history of Washington Heights and Inwood, he pulls out a wad of cash without flinching. And then he sits down on the couch and starts on the first page, and he calls his boy over to show him pictures of how stuff used to look in the hood, and he’s just reading and reading, as if nothing is going on around him, as if the whole other world has disappeared, and he makes his whole crew wait until he’s done with the chapter.


They say it takes a village to raise a child. We’ve provided the children of the Heights with Storytime for Kids, Skraptacular art workshops, the Voices: Our Young People Speak writing and theater program, Alita the Show puppet show, yoga and meditation classes, readings by children’s book authors, musical performances, the Open Mic, and volunteer opportunities. Please contribute to Word Up’s fundraising campaign, and help our community continue to educate itself.