Monthly Archives: December 2013

2013 in review


We began 2013 without a permanent space, but with the concrete support of hundreds of neighbors and the pledge to reopen once again. Now, at the close of the year—after hosting/programming 100+ events and distributing 3,500+ books in the neighborhood—we are settled at our new space devoted to multilingual literacy, community, and artistic expression in Washington Heights. Please help us sustain what we’ve all started together, by making a year-end donation. You can donate two ways: 

1) Online via PayPal, by clicking on the button below. In order to qualify for a 2013 tax deduction, your online gift must be made by 11:59PM (EST) on December 31st.


2) By check. Please make checks payable to Seven Stories Institute and send to Word Up Community Bookshop, 2113 Amsterdam Avenue, New York NY 10032. As we are a program of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization Seven Stories Institute, your donation will be tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. In order to qualify for a 2013 tax deduction, checks must be postmarked no later than December 31, 2013.


Last year at this time, Word Up volunteers would watch this video on repeat and get teary, because it was the most vivid reminder of the community bookshop and arts space we missed so much. Now we watch similar scenes unfold every day, live joyous soundtrack to boot. Since our grand opening, we’ve kept up a full calendar of weekly programs—like Open Mic, No Name, Story Time for KidsFace Out Literary Thursdays, Tutor Tuesdays, Craft Camp, and Let’s Read—in addition to an array of special events within and beyond the walls of our storefront: we co-organized the inaugural Uptown Lit: A Festival of Readers and Writers with a great group of neighbors and local organizations; and in November, Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist Junot Díaz joined us for a discussion on writing and culture. Both of these latter events took place at the United Palace of Cultural Arts; between them, over 800 people attended. In addition, our longest-running program—Voices: Our Young People Speak, in which teens collaborate with working artists to develop their personal voice through writing and performance, co-facilitated by People’s Theatre Project—has expanded from one semester to two.

We hope we can count on your continuing support: as a bookshop staffed 100% by volunteers, we absolutely rely on contributions from you—our friends and allies—to ensure that we can keep our doors open. While we have been donating our labor since the start, we have significant expenses: rent, utilities, supplies, inventory. Please give today!



Word Up, a program of Seven Stories Institute, is a volunteer-run community bookshop and art space. Word Up is supported by the generosity of hundreds of community donors, as well as the funding for general operating support from the NoMAA Regrant Program, made possible by the JPMorgan Chase Foundation and the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation; the Medical Center Neighborhood Fund; and the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital Ambulatory Care Network.



Face Out on Thursday: Efrayim Levenson & Friends

FunhouseThis coming Thursday, Efrayim Levenson presents his new chapbook, Funhouse, with a little help from his friends. Francine Witte and Peter Chelnik will also be reading.

Efrayim Levenson has been writing poetry since 1982. He is the former executive director of Niagara Erie Writers, and his published chapbook collections are For My Relations (Poetrymanz), Dances With Tears (Poets Wear Prada), and Funhouse (Poets Wear Prada). His collaborations with such musicians as Clif Jackson (Secret Orchestra), Dave Schmeidler (Skyrats), and Rey Scott (Sun Ra Arkestra) led to his addiction to poetic interpretation of instrumental music.

Francine Witte won the Thomas A. Wilhelmus Chapbook Award (now dubbed the Editor’s Fiction Chapbook Prize) from RopeWalk Press in 2010 for a collection of short short stories titled Cold June. She is also the author of three other chapbooks of poetry and short fiction: Only, Not Only (Finishing Line Press), The Wind Twirls Everything (MuscleHead Press), and First Rain, which won Pecan Grove Press’s 2008 National Chapbook Competition.

Peter Chelnik is the host/curator of the Prairie Fire Reading Series. His books include Railroad Heart, East Coast Line, Manhattan Wilderness, Eternity Road, and Wildflower Serenade, and he has had seven plays produced off-off-Broadway.

Holiday hours this week

Sunday, December 22nd, 12–6pm
Monday, December 23rd, 12–4pm
Tuesday, December 24th, 12–4pm
Wednesday, December 25th—
Thursday, December 26th, 3–9pm
Friday, December 27th, 12–9pm 

Today: Ed Cherry Trio

EdCherryWe’ve got your entertainment covered on this last weekend day before Christmas: from 3pm to 5pm, swing by Word Up for a great afternoon of jazz courtesy of the Jazz Foundation of America. We’ll have the Ed Cherry Trio in the house, featuring guitarist Ed Cherry and with Pat Bianchi on organ and Chris Beck on drums.

Jim Ferguson of Jazztimes says that Cherry “has a hip, melodic approach that is a refreshing contrast to guitarists who frequently resort to playing ‘finger music’, the execution of rapid streams of notes that serve no musical purpose other than to fill space.” See more about the band at

. . . And of course, we have a lot of used and new books that would make great gifts!

Holiday Gifts at Word Up

Uptowners: It’s not too late to get your gifts in the neighborhood! Today Word Up is once again popping up at Bread & Yoga’s Om Grown Holiday Market. And at our storefront at 2113 Amsterdam Avenue @ 165th Street, we have much, much more by way of great gift ideas.

Barahona_PedernalesHigh on gift givers’ lists—popular all year ’round at Word Up—are beautiful coffee-table books of the Dominican Republic coastal cities of Barahona and Pedernales, produced by the Colección Orgullo de mi Tierra.

Glimpses_overviewIsaías Orozco-Lang’s photography book Glimpses of La Yaguita: Street Scenes and Portraits from the Dominican Republic comes with a preface by Julia Alvarez. Special thanks to Isaías Orozco-Lang himself for making sure we have enough copies available for our neighbors!

WimpyItemsFor all the voracious Diary of a Wimpy Kid readers in our midst, we have restocked on all volumes, including some Diario de Greg, plus we now have themed notebooks to help transform young readers into writers themselves.

TIHYLH_LR_overviewAnd of course we can hook you up with the deluxe edition of Junot Díaz’s This Is How You Lose Her illustrated by Jaime Hernandez, as well as books in celebration of Love and Rockets‘ 30th anniversary: The Love and Rockets Companion, Love and Rockets: The Covers, and a whole selection of Love and Rockets collected volumes.

Come visit us at the store to check this all out in person! We’ll be open Saturday 12–9pm, Sunday 12–6pm, Monday 12–4pm, Tuesday 12–4pm, then closed on Wednesday, Christmas Day.