Author Archives: wordupbooks

Support Word Up in 2019

As we approach the end of 2019, we have been reflecting on what an exciting year we’ve had at Word Up Community Bookshop/Librería Comunitaria. We celebrated our eighth birthday back in June, and we have continued to grow and thrive, expanding the possibilities of what bookstores can do.

We want to continue to make space for community dialogue and the stories of our neighborhood. Please join us by making a special year-end contribution to Word Up. We are a 501(c)(3) organization, so your donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law. If your employer matches donations, please keep us in mind. Thank you in advance for your support!

In collaboration with the hundreds of you who volunteer, participate, suggest, stop by, and dream with us each and every week, here’s a snapshot of what’s been happening at Word Up:

We created UPTOWN READSa 5-month program inviting all of Uptown NYC to read the same book together, starting with Angie Cruz’s Dominicana, for which we hosted the launch along with Dominican Writers and Flatiron Books, at Alianza Dominicana Cultural Center.

We initiated the first-ever UPTOWN KID LIT Festival for children’s literature in Inwood Hill Park in September. More than 700 kids and their families joined us for special story times, panels, and crafting activities with a host of amazing authors, illustrators, and local organizations, as well as giveaways of school supplies and 1,000+ BOOKS!

During BookExpo, we hosted an Uptown Literary Happy Hour that featured authors Kalisha Buckhanon, Ta-Nehisi CoatesJaquira DíazMalcolm Tariq, and Dina Nayeri.

We organized a day-long symposium devoted to the work of octogenarian Dominican-American poet, translator, and educator Rhina Espaillat.

We celebrated books like Cherríe Moraga’s memoir Native Country of the Heart, Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan‘s young adult novel Watch Us Rise, Amanda Alcántara‘s proudly independently published Chula, Matthew A. Cherry and Vashti Harrison‘s children’s picture book Hair Love, local business owner Sarina Prabasi‘s memoir The Coffeehouse Resistance, and Willie Perdomo‘s new poetry book The Crazy Bunch.


The Heights/El Alto printmaking project—commissioned by Word Up and Realengo Studio—invited visual artists who have lived uptown for 17+ years to reflect on changes in the neighborhood, and culminated in an artist talk at Word Up before the exhibit moved to the Inwood Library.

Our educational offerings included two multi-week comics classes; Spanish-language writing workshops; a series of professional development workshops for those interested in literary fields who are less represented in the publishing industry; two series of writing workshops organized by Dominican Writers; kids’ music classes presented by Listen Closely; and a writing workshop focused on queer, trans, and intersex youth in collaboration with inQluded. We have hosted dozens of Uptown Stories’ culminating readings, multiple P.S. 132 “I Am” art exhibitions, and lots more presentations by educational institutions from all over.

In sheer numbers: we hosted 300+ in-store events—readings, art exhibits, classes, workshops, community meetings, screenings, concerts, and story times—in English, Spanish, Dominicanish, Italian, Korean, and more, and sometimes with live interpretation; welcomed school visits from 500+ students from our local elementary, middle, and high schools, daycares, and colleges; facilitated internships for 20 students; distributed 17,000+ books through in-store and online sales and donations to other organizations, schools, prisons, shelters, and more; clocked 7,000+ hours of volunteer work in store and in the community; and staffed 83 offsite events around the city. For this work, Word Up received an Honorable Mention for the National Book Foundation’s Innovations in Reading Prize.

We want to continue to make space for community dialogue and the stories of our neighborhood. Please join us by making a special year-end contribution to Word Up.

Word Up is a 501(c)(3) organization, so your donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law. If your employer matches donations, please keep us in mind. Thank you in advance for your support!

December 15 – andPlay (in) conversation with Sky Macklay

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andPlay, a violin/viola duo based in New York City, focuses on commissioning new works and performing lesser-known contemporary ones. andPlay is especially passionate about the collaborative experience of creating new music. In order to share this process with the wider community, andPlay began a series of free events beginning in 2019 at public venues in Manhattan, entitled “andPlay (in) conversation.” Each event includes a guest composer who is a former or current collaborator with andPlay. This event features Sky Macklay. Macklay’s 2019 composition for andPlay, Maps (of Friendship), is a humorous look at the benefits and woes of commuting and transportation in our daily lives.

This event is made possible in part with funding from the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation and administered by LMCC.

andPlay (in) conversation with Sky Macklay
Sunday, December 15, 2019

Word Up Community Bookshop/Librería Comunitaria
2113 Amsterdam Ave. @ 165th St.
New York NY 10032

December 4 – Screening/Proyección: Los Sures

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(1984, USA/Puerto Rico, D. Echeverría, 56 min)

This documentary offers a portrait of South Williamsburg and the challenges its residents face in the 1980s, as well as a celebration of New York City’s rich history of Puerto Rican and Dominican culture and community. // Un retrato de los sures de Williamsburg y de los desafíos de vivir allá en los años 1980, que a la vez celebra la historia—y la presencia—de la comunidad y de la cultura puertorriqueña y dominicana de la Cd. de Nueva York.

Join us for the screening, discussion, popcorn, and refreshments. // Vengan para la proyección, una discusión, palomitas, y refrescos.

This Documentales sociales en las Américas/Social Documentaries in the Americas program was funded in part by Humanities New York with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. / Este programa ha sido financiado en parte por Humanities New York con el apoyo del National Endowment for the Humanities. Co-sponsored by/co-auspiciado por North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA).

Screening/Proyección: Los Sures
Wednesday, December 4/Miercoles 4 de diciembre 2019
Word Up Community Bookshop/Librería Comunitaria
2113 Amsterdam Avenue @ 165th St.
New York NY 10032
RSVP here/aquí

November 21 – Word Up Fall Comix Show

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Experience work by a new crop of cartoonists from our Nonfiction Comics Class, taught by local cartoonist Ellen Lindner! We will be opening this new exhibit in the Word Up gallery space with a party and zine reading. Topics this time include surviving cancer, subway etiquette, our current political situation, how to grow avocados, a tale of chronic pain, and the continuing story of a woman living with HIV in 1980s New York—plus much more. There will be simultaneous Spanish interpretation of this event available.

This event is free and refreshments will be served.

Thanks to LMCC and the New York Department of Culture for their generous funding of this class and this event.

Thursday, November 21, 2019
Word Up Fall Comix Show – Opening and Zine Reading
Word Up Community Bookshop/Librería Comunitaria
2113 Amsterdam Ave. @ 165th St.
New York NY 10032

November 20 – Nathalie Handal’s Life in a Country Album

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Join us to celebrate the launch of Nathalie Handal new poetry collection Life in a Country Album.

The book launch will have food and music inspired by the poetry book with appearances by the author Nathalie Handal for a night of celebration and festivities. Michael Archer (founder of Guernica Magazine) will introduce the book, and Nimmi Gowrinathan (professor/founder, Politics of Sexual Violence Initiative & Beyond Identity faculty, City College) will lead a Q & A.

A dynamic line-up of guest-writers, actors and students will read a poem from Life in a Country Album: Tina Chang (Hybrida); Ricky Maldonado (The Life Assignment); Najla Said (actor); Nivea Castro and Wendy Angulo (VONA – The Voices of Our Nation Arts Foundation); Kathy Engel (The Lost Brother Alphabet); student writers, Nailah Garard (Beyond Identity fellow), Jasmine Hayden, Asia Lo Savio, and more…

With Arabic Latin live music by percussionist & oud player Zafer Tawil & Co.

Life in Country Album by Nathalie Handal: From migrations to pop culture, loss to la dérive, Life in a Country Album is a soundtrack of the global cultural landscape—borders and citizenship, hybrid identities and home, freedom and pleasure. It’s a vast and moving look at the world, at what home means, and the ways we coexist in an increasingly divided world. These poems are about the dialects of the heart—those we are incapable of parting from, and those that are largely forgotten. Life in a Country Album is a vital book for our times. With this beautiful, epic collection, Nathalie Handal affirms herself as one of our most diverse and important contemporary poets.

I love how the desire and longing running through these poems reaches me via the collection’s many voices and cityscapes, and–most poignantly–via the borders between bodies, nations and hearts. Absolutely gorgeous.
—Tracy K. Smith, Poet Laureate of the United States

NATHALIE HANDAL was raised in Latin America, France and the Middle East, and educated in Asia, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Her recent poetry books include the flash collection The Republics, about the Dominican Republic and Haiti, winner of the Virginia Faulkner Award for Excellence in Writing, and the Arab American Book Award; Poet in Andalucía; and Love and Strange Horses, winner of the Gold Medal Independent Publisher Book Award. She is the author of eight plays, editor of two anthologies, and her poetry, essays and creative nonfiction have appeared in Vanity Fair, Guernica Magazine, the Guardian, the New York Times, the Nation, the Irish Times, among others. Handal is the recipient of awards from the Lannan Foundation, Centro Andaluz de las Letras, Fondazione di Venezia, Emily Harvey Foundation, among others. Her work brings her to audiences globally. She is a professor at Columbia University, and writes the literary travel column “The City and the Writer” for Words without Borders magazine.

Beyond Identity is a program that “trains young women of color from both immigrant and U.S.-based minority communities in identity-driven research, allowing them to draw on lived experiences of discrimination and violence to inform the research agendas and political writing that will be the foundation of distinctive political projects.*The category “women” is inclusive of cis-sexual, transgender, and non-binary forms of gendered identities. The Politics of Sexual Violence Initiative does not discriminate on gender or race.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019
Nathalie Handal’s Life in a Country Album
Word Up Community Bookshop/Librería Comunitaria
2113 Amsterdam Ave. @ 165th St.
New York NY 10032
Can’t make it to the event? Order the book here.