Category Archives: Uncategorized

Wednesdays, June 24 – July 29 – DON QUIXOTE: Into the World of the Book


Word Up welcomes the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research for a class on DON QUIXOTE, conducted every Wednesday, 7pm, from June 24 to July 29. More information on the class and enrollment are available at

In this course, we will delve “Into the World of the Book” in four ways. First, we will extensively and closely read DON QUIXOTE, parts I (1605) and II (1615). If you have always wanted to read this first—and in the minds of many, best—novel, this is your chance. Second, we will hone in on the many books that populate the narrative—chivalric romances, Arabic manuscripts, short stories read aloud at inns, wax tablets found on mountaintops, books being constructed in print shops—and analyze those passages in connection to broader themes. Third, we will learn about book production and circulation in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Spain and Europe, historically grounding Don Quixote in its original context. Finally, our setting, Word Up Books, a community bookstore in Washington Heights, will inspire and inform our discussions about books and the social, inciting us to consider Don Quixote’s contemporary relevance and parallels.

In addition to reading DON QUIXOTE, some secondary critical readings will be assigned. Students may choose to read the novel in English or Spanish; both will be available for purchase at Word Up Books. The class discussion will be in English, but may be conducted in Spanish or bilingually depending on the make-up of the group. Financial assistance to take this course may be available upon request.

Class held Wednesdays, 7pm
June 24 & July 1, 8, 15, 22, & 29 (6 sessions over 6 weeks)
Cost: $315; financial assistance available

DON QUIXOTE: Into the World of the Book
Wednesdays, June 24 – July 29 , 2015
Word Up Community Bookshop/Librería Comunitaria.
113 Amsterdam ave, (at 165 st)
New York, NY

April 29 – Word Up to be featured in Then, Now, Next: Oral History Exhibit


One of our newest volunteers, Benji, has been documenting Word Up for a while and is exhibiting some of his great work at Columbia University tomorrow from 5-8pm.
Join us!
The Refectory at Union Theological Seminary, enter at 121st Street and Broadway, Nyc

DATE: Wednesday, April 29, 2015

TIME: 5-8 PM

WHERE: The Refectory at Union Theological Seminary, enter at 121st Street and Broadway (note: we regret that this space is not wheelchair accessible)

WHAT: Oral history has the potential to transform public dialogue about the most important issues of our time–race and police violence, income inequality, gentrification, the crisis of democracy–by amplifying diverse voices in the public sphere, providing new perspectives and historical context.

How can oral histories help us understand and catalyze social change? This interactive, multimedia pop-up exhibit, curated by the students and faculty of the Columbia Oral History Master of Arts program, will present eleven projects engaging this question from eleven different angles, asking:

  • How do experiences of collective power become myths, and how do these myths generate or defuse new waves of activism?
  • How do stories of urban places nurture resilient communities?
  • How are living traditions of resistance passed down between generations and how are these traditions disrupted?
  • How do personal stories about the past document injustice and provide clues to a new way forward?
  • How do we use knowledge of history to imagine and create the future we want?

Audience members will be invited to don headphones and dip into immersive community spaces, including a sultry jazz club, a midwife’s office, and a neighborhood hair salon.

Refreshments will be served and children are welcome!

RSVP to this event on Facebook.

Exhibits include:

Church as Community: St. Augustine’s on the Lower East Side by Kate Brenner
A look at the vibrant African American community around St. Augustine’s Church on the Lower East Side.

Building Bridges: Stories from a Homeless Shelter by Leonard Cox
Listen to stories from a homeless shelter and share ideas on how to connect with the homeless.

Word Up Community Bookshop Oral History Project by Benji de la Piedra
This pop-up recreation of Washington Heights’ beloved volunteer-run bookstore invites you to browse books, enjoy music, writing and photography from local artists, and consider the cultural significance of community bookstores in 2015.

The Neighborhood Hair Salon as Living Oral History Archive by Jonathon Fairhead
A simulation of the hair salon experience, with cloak, mirror, and comb is a recorded oral history interview discussing the interviewee’s relationship with their hair, their hair salon, hair stylist, and neighborhood.

BlackMother: Stories Surrounding Childbirth & Remembrances of Traditional Birth Workers in the American South by Nicole JeanBaptiste
Black women’s voices on intergenerational experiences with and issues surrounding childbirth.

Refugee Resettlement in Orange County by K Lee
Website introducing the Vietnamese refugee resettlement in Orange County

The Human Be-In Teach-In by Steven Palmer
Voices from a hippie happening in San Francisco.

Personal Storytelling as Advocacy by Steven Puente
Hepatitis C Peers from Einstein’s Methadone Clinics, located in the South Bronx, will be sharing their personal stories as a form of personal outreach and advocacy.

Guardians in the NYPD by Liz Strong
Work, identity and advocacy in law enforcement remembered by retired members of the NYPD Guardians Association for black officers.

Paying Respects: Stories of Family and Friends Buried in New York’s Potter’s Field by Leyla Vural
Hear from people with family and friends buried on Hart Island, our city’s potter’s field, the final resting spot for nearly one million New Yorkers that’s hidden in plain sight.

Gathered Time: Hearing Change in Jazz by Erica Zora Wrightson
The sounds of change in jazz.

May 2 – Word Up Celebrates NYC Independent Bookstore Day with a CSB Book Harvest!

Mx4nzV_2Word Up Community Bookshop invites you to our Community Supported Bookshop (CSB) Book Harvest as part of a citywide celebration of independent bookstores! The Word Up CSB (Community Supported Bookshop) is a bookshop member program modeled on neighborhood CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture), which help local farmers sustain their operations. Join current bookstore members for an exclusive first pick of a huge selection of used books during this very special event. Entertainment and light refreshments, courtesy of neighborhood businesses, will be provided. Not a member yet? Basic shares start at $20. Continuing memberships and school shares are also available. For more information, visit, email, or stop in to Word Up to speak to a volunteer.

Word Up Celebrates NYC Independent Bookstore Day with a CSB Book Harvest!
Saturday, May 2, 2015
Word Up Community Bookshop/Librería Comunitaria.
113 Amsterdam ave, (at 165 st)
New York, NY

April 9 – Building a food Co-op in Northern Manhattan/Construyendo una cooperativa de alimentos

Comida2 Food

Do you love food? And, are you interested in the possibilities of
Food Sovereignty,
Equitable Ownership,
Democratic Control, &
Community Resilience?
A group of community members wants to discuss BUILDING A FOOD CO-OP in Northern Manhattan, and we invite you to join an initial conversation—facilitated by WE ACT for Environmental Justice—when we’ll gauge interest, discuss practical details, and pool resources for common good.

RSVP by phone to James at (212) 961-1000 ext. 314, or by email to

Co-sponsored by WE ACT for Environmental Justice and Word Up Community Bookshop/Librería Comunitaria.


Construyendo una cooperativa de alimentos
Jueves, 9 de abril 2015

¿Ama la comida? ¿Y, le interesa las posibilidades de
Soberanía alimentaria
Distribución equitativa de propiedad
Control democrático, &
Resiliencia comunitaria?
Un grupo de vecinos de la comunidad quiere discutir LA CONSTRUCCIÓN DE UNA COOPERATIVA DE ALIMENTOS en Alto Manhattan, y los invitamos a participar en una conversación inicial—facilitada por la organización WE ACT por la Justicia Ambiental—donde hablaremos de detalles prácticos, los intereses de los presentes, y los recursos colectivos que podemos utilizar hacia el bien común.

RSVP por teléfono a James, (212) 961-1000 ext. 314, o por correo electrónico a

El evento será coordinado por WE ACT por la Justicia Ambiental y Word Up Librería Comunitaria.

Building a food Co-op in Northern Manhattan/Construyendo una cooperativa de alimentos
Thursday, April 9,  2015
Word Up Community Bookshop/Librería Comunitaria.
113 Amsterdam ave, (at 165 st)
New York, NY

April 8 – Trafika Europe – Four Takes: An Evening of Translation from Danish, Czech, Bosnian and Armenian

Four excellent literary translators present and discuss their latest work in this evening dedicated to helping Trafika Europe Radio get on the air!

KATRINE ØGAARD JENSEN (Editor in Chief, Columbia Journal) translates poems from Danish by Theis Ørntoft.

ALEX ZUCKER (Co-Chair, PEN Translation Committee) reads from Love Letter in Cuneiform, his translation from Czech of Tomáš Zmeškal’s first novel.

JENNIFER ZOBLE (Founding Editor of InTranslation) reads and discusses her translation of the new memoir by acclaimed and colorful Bosnian writer Miljenko Jergović.

Visiting Armenian poet MARINE PETROSSIAN will perform and discuss her own translations from Armenian of her latest poetry.

Trafika Europe Director ANDREW SINGER will be on hand to host this event, and tell you all about Trafika Europe Radio – Europe’s literary radio station! This is real community radio for literature from across the whole continent – the 47 countries of Council of Europe.

Come on out, enjoy some great food and drink, and show your support for this exciting project! Radio campaign:

Trafika Europe – Four Takes: An Evening of Translation from Danish, Czech, Bosnian and Armenian
Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Word Up Community Bookshop/Librería Comunitaria.
113 Amsterdam ave, (at 165 st)
New York, NY

April 2 – Reading: Athena Dent

1450252_883281641702446_9222621938447610377_nOver the years, Athena Dent has worked as a social worker, educator, and mentor. Most recently, her great love for humanity has developed in her practice of literary fiction. Her novel SILK is about five generations of women, who arebest friends, and who each face challenging situations. And ONE OF A KIND LOVE is about two undercover police officers, Carlos and Crystal, who work together, then fall in love. However, a secret that Carlos’s mother has kept from the family is intertwined with a neighborhood kid who Crystal befriends….Love is NOT just between two people.

Athena’s forthcoming books include the young-adult novel FRANCHESCA’S JOURNEY, the Silk sequel COCOON, and the poetry volume THE BEGINNING. Athena is also a mother, wife, and a martial artist.

Reading: Athena Dent
Thursday, April 2, 2015
Word Up Community Bookshop/Librería Comunitaria.
2113 Amsterdam ave, (at 165 st)
New York, NY

Recirculation — A Recollection


They say not to judge a book by its cover, but you can learn a lot about people from the titles on their shelves. Sometimes, an absence tells the whole story. The Strand sells a poster with this John Waters quote: “If you go home with somebody and they don’t have any books, don’t !@#$ them!” This seems easy enough. I fell in love with a woman once, and we decided to exchange books. She gave me one called What is Death? I think I tried to give her Rilke. You already know how that ended.

You can never predict what a person is going to have in his or her library. In college, I had Shakespeare class with a professor would cry while reading a soliloquy. That is how much he loved Shakespeare. When I went to visit him in his office, I saw some of the greatest writers in history represented, as expected. There was Shakespeare (of course), John Milton, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Dante Alighieri, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Marcel Proust, and Leo Tolstoy. My eyes dinged back, like the end of the line on a typewriter. Those shiny newer hardcovers, sandwiched in between. If Democrats Had Any Brains, next to Dante’s The Inferno. Now I know, I should not have been surprised. This is the range of a human being.

When I moved into my first apartment, I had almost no furniture. The rooms were empty, and the bare wood floors must have made me feel exposed. I decided to surround the perimeter with piles of books. The titles did not matter. The books were weight, like literary sandbags, some form of fortification against the floods of fear and loneliness. I liked to look at the wall. I would never read those books. If anyone came home with me, this was all there was to know.

At Word Up Community Bookshop, the inventory is almost entirely made up of donations. We carry other people’s books. Most of our stock is used. In the early days, the inside of the store could seem more like battlefield triage than retail bookselling. As many of our neighbors remember, the old space was an abandoned pharmacy, with hand-sized holes in the walls and a severely herniated ceiling. Books would be left at our gate, orphaned babies without a home. We took them in, regardless of their condition. Some were smoked out or soaked through, some were coming apart at the seams. We saw the broken spines, the torn off limbs, the scoliotic bodies. At that time, the function of Word Up was to revive and recirculate, led by volunteer Tom. We wanted to be the heart of the community, spreading books like lifeblood so there would never be an empty shelf.  Continue reading