Author Archives: wordupbooks

April 19: Opening: Printing Hudson River—a show by Inju Kaboom

Exhibition Opening
Friday, April 19, 2019
Word Up Community Bookshop
2113 Amsterdam Ave. @ 165th St.

Inju Kaboom’s Printing Hudson River show comprises the full series of prints she produced for El Alto/The Heights, which was a group printmaking project commissioned by Realengo Studio and Word Up Community Bookshop/Librería Comunitaria.* Each print in Inju’s series—created using suminagashi, ebru, and marbling printing techniques—was unique in execution and result. Alongside the full series, Inju will be hosting public workshops to demonstrate the techniques; stay tuned for more information on the workshops and artist talk to come. 

Printing Hudson River will be on view through May 19.

Inju Kaboom’s Printing Hudson River

The print series I have produced for El Alto represents a lifetime spent in Washington Heights. The act of printing off the river represents the un-curated and un-gentrified freedom the park still affords the people at the park. Each print represents the unique and totally original nature of a neighborhood bound by the diversity of cultures and communion of natural public spaces like the Hudson River.

Marbling is a printmaking technique produced especially for bookmakers. In Europe, it was used as end papers for hardcover books that designated a unique signature for the publisher. In Japan, it was prized as an authentication technique for highly sensitive royal documents. Each print is unique but comes from the same batch of water and ink pool.

While the diversity of the neighborhood has shifted and changed with time and the big tide of gentrification inevitably reaches The Heights, one thing I have always experienced as an equalizer, has been the riverbank at George Washington Bridge Park. I grew up watching the Puerto Rican Liberation Army practice drills by the river, right next to actors practicing mime routines for workshops at Juilliard. There were no shortages of older semi-retired men from a rich tapestry of diverse backgrounds; Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, China, Upper West Side; fishing, crabbing and kayaking on the riverbank. Families from Russia to Mexico making their own unique take on BBQ. I once watched a Cuban family bury a small pig into the sand with some coal—a full day’s worth of digging and cooking but at sunset what a feast! For most families like my own family, our vacation was usually a stay-cation, spent on a stolen weekend, people watching and communing with other families at the riverbank where the city seemed just a fingertip away.

I have this great memory of my grandmother visiting one year from South Korea and we spent the whole day foraging for edible greens all along the park. I remember feeling both embarrassed and completely fascinated by how much free food there was everywhere—she showed me how to harvest mulberries from all the trees along the river—she went home and made everything from wine to preserved jellied candies. If she were still alive, I would have shown her how to wrap her wonderful mulberry candy onto marbled paper for the holidays.

—Inju Kaboom

* The Heights/El Alto is organized by Realengo Studio and Word Up Community Bookshop/Librería Comunitaria, and was made possible in part with funding from the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation and administered by LMCC.


Word Up & BCRW present Cherríe Moraga at The People’s Forum

Cherríe Moraga—the celebrated coeditor of the groundbreaking anthology This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color—will present her new memoir, Native Country of the Heart, in conversation with Claudia de la Cruz, Director of Culture at The People’s Forum.

Tickets are available at

Native Country of the Heart is the writer and activist Cherríe Moraga’s love letter to her “unlettered” mother. It is also an intimate understanding of the U.S.-Mexican diaspora by the celebrated coeditor of the groundbreaking anthology This Bridge Called My Back.

CHERRÍE MORAGA is a writer and cultural activist whose work disrupts the dominant narratives of gender, race, sexuality, feminism, indigeneity, and literature in the United States. A cofounder of Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, Moraga coedited the influential volume This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color (1981). In 2017, after twenty years as an Artist-in-Residence in Theater at Stanford University, Moraga was appointed a professor in the Department of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where, with her artistic partner Celia Herrera Rodríguez, she founded Las Maestras Center for Xicana Indigenous Thought and Art Practice. She is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Theatre Playwriting Fellowship Award and a Rockefeller Fellowship for Literature.

CLAUDIA DE LA CRUZ was born in the South Bronx to immigrant parents from the Dominican Republic. She is a popular educator, community organizer and theologian. In her role as Director of Culture at The People’s Forum, Claudia is committed to contribute her experiences and skills in the creation of cultural-educational space with organizers, educators and cultural workers/artists to continue producing, promoting and uplifting the cultural traditions that nourish and strengthen our communities in our struggles towards social justice. For over 20 years, she has been committed to movement building, and has actively participated in collective grassroots spaces, particularly in the communities of Washington Heights and The South Bronx.

March 23 – Special Story Time: Grandpa Stops a War by Susan Robeson

Susan Robeson—granddaughter of Paul Robeson—recollects the bravery and activism of her grandfather in her debut children’s picture book, Grandpa Stops a War, based on the true story of Paul Robeson’s visit to the front lines of the Spanish Civil War. Ideal for ages 5–9.

When Susan was a child, her father and grandfather told her family stories over and over. Grandpa Paul was a great man, a singer with a deep and rumbling voice, a man of peace and principle who worried about the safety of the children and families living in countries at war. His songs were always full of emotion, and evoking the African-American spirituals of his own father’s childhood, he was able to communicate even with people who didn’t speak the same language. Though it was dangerous, Robeson went to Spain and traveled to the front lines of the war (in a Buick!). There, he asked the soldiers to set up speakers facing the fighters on both sides of the battlefield. And then he sang….

With gorgeous illustrations from the fine artist Rod Brown, Grandpa Stops A War celebrates the activism and achievements of the great Paul Robeson, and shows readers the power of art in times of discord and war.

Books will be available for sale at the event, and can be purchased in advance at

March 16 – Don’t Touch My Hair Reading Series with Cheryl Boyce-Taylor, Malcolm Friend, & Michelle Moncayo

This is the inaugural reading in the new Don’t Touch My Hair Reading Series, hosted by poet Yesenia Montilla. Books by the poets will be available for sale at the shop and are now available at

Cheryl Boyce-Taylor is a poet and teaching artist. She earned an MFA from Stonecoast at the University of Southern Maine and an MSW from Fordham University. Her collections of poetry include Raw Air, Night When Moon Follows, Convincing the Body, and Arrival, which was a finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize. The founder and curator of Calypso Muse and the Glitter Pomegranate Performance Series, Boyce-Taylor is also a poetry judge for the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice. She has led workshops for Cave Canem, Poets & Writers, and the Caribbean Literary and Cultural Center. Her poetry has been commissioned by The Joyce Theater and the National Endowment for the Arts for Ronald K. Brown’s Evidence, A Dance Company. Boyce-Taylor is the recipient of the 2015 Barnes Noble Writers For Writers Award and a VONA fellow. Her life papers and portfolio are stored at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City.

Malcolm Friend is a poet originally from the Rainier Beach neighborhood of Seattle WA. He received his BA from Vanderbilt University, and his MFA from the University of Pittsburgh. He is the author of the chapbook mxd kd mixtape and Our Bruises Kept Singing Purple, selected by Cynthia Arrieu-King as winner of the 2017 Hillary Gravendyk Prize. He has received awards and fellowships from organizations including CantoMundo, Backbone Press, the Center for African American Poetry & Poetics, and the University of Memphis.

Michelle Moncayo is a first-generation poet in New Jersey, by way of Ecuador and the Dominican Republic. She has received fellowships and residencies from CantoMundo, VONA/Voices of Our Nation, Vermont Studio Center, and Sundress Academy for the Arts. She received her BA from Rutgers University where she received honorable mention for the Academy of American Poets’ Enid Dame Memorial Prize, and the Evelyn Hamilton Award. Her work has appeared in the Acentos Review, Winter Tangerine Review, Kweli Literary Journal, and Maps for Teeth, among others. She is always down for a good sancocho.

Don’t Touch My Hair Reading Series with Cheryl Boyce-Taylor, Malcolm Friend, & Michelle Moncayo
Saturday, March 16, 2019
Word Up Community Bookshop/Librería Comunitaria
2113 Amsterdam Ave. @ 165th St.
New York NY 10032

March 14 – Lost Inwood: a book presentation with Cole Thompson & Don Rice

Join Uptown neighbors in celebrating the release of Lost Inwood by Cole Thompson and Don Rice. The authors have cohosted the monthly “Lost Inwood” history series since 2009. Thompson founded the popular local history website Rice serves as president of the Dyckman Farmhouse Museum Alliance, which helps to ensure the preservation of the local national historic landmark. Longtime Inwood residents contributed many images for this newest volume in the Images of America series.

Inwood, the northernmost neighborhood of Manhattan, has a rich yet little-known history. For centuries, the region remained practically unchanged—a quaint, country village known to early Dutch settlers as Tubby Hook. The subway’s arrival in the early 1900s transformed the area, once scorned as “ten miles from a beefsteak,” from farm to city virtually overnight. The same construction boom sparked an age of neighborhood self-discovery, when vestiges of the past—in the form of mastodon bones, arrowheads, colonial pottery, Revolutionary War cannonballs, and forgotten cemeteries—emerged from the earth. Waves of German, Irish, and Dominican immigrants subsequently produced a vibrant urban oasis with a big-city/small-town feel. Inwood has also been home to wealthy country estates, pre-integration sports arenas, and a lively waterfront culture. Famous residents have included NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Basketball Diaries author Jim Carroll, and Hamilton creator/star Lin-Manuel Miranda.

The event admission is free; a $5 suggested donation goes toward supporting Word Up’s in-store programming. A Q&A will follow the book presentation. Books will be available for sale at the event, or may be purchased on our website at

Book Presentation: Lost Inwood by Cole Thompson & Don Rice
Thursday, March 14, 2019
Word Up Community Bookshop/Librería Comunitaria
2113 Amsterdam Ave. @ 165th St.
New York NY 10032