Shelf Awareness for Friday, April 28, 2017


Penguin Press: Feel Free: Essays by Zadie Smith

Graphix: Dog Man and Cat Kid (Dog Man #4) by Dav Pilkey

Ecco Press: Varina by Charles Frazier

Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books: Small Walt by Elizabeth Verdick and Marc Rosenthal

Quotation of the Day

News

Amazon First Quarter: Sales, Earnings Beat Expectations

In the first quarter ended March 31, net sales at Amazon rose 22.6%, to $35.7 billion, and net income rose 41.1%, to $724 million. Because sales were $400 million higher than expected by analysts and earnings per diluted share were $1.48--35 cents higher than expected--Amazon's stock rose 4.5% in after-market trading this morning, more than 3%, to $952, a record high.

The company reported that sales in North America rose 23.5%, to $21 billion, and internationally 15.6%, to $11 billion, both marking a slowdown compared to a year before. But the company's AWS cloud subsidiary had a sales gain of 42.7%, to $3.7 billion.

The company's long press release about results and achievements during the quarter did not mention books.


Trinity University Press: Arte Kids - Bilingual Board Books


Portland, Ore.'s Green Bean Books Makes Children's Lit Interactive

Prior to opening Green Bean Books in Portland, Ore., in July 2009, co-owner and operator Jennifer Green had spent 10 years as an elementary school teacher. She'd always had a love of children's literature and enjoyed working with kids and building community, but eventually the teaching bureaucracy wore on her. When she first thought of making a change, the idea of opening a children's bookstore was just a fantasy. But after thinking about it and researching it for more than a year--a process that included a trip to Winter Institute--she realized she could actually do it.

"I was known as that teacher with too many books in her classroom," recalled Green, who also worked as a bookseller at various bookstores before she became a teacher. "I thought, I have all these books, maybe I should start a bookstore."

Green Bean Books is located in a 500-square-foot cottage in Portland's Alberta Arts District. When she opened the store, Green made every room of the cottage, including the kitchen, into a "little book room." The store sells new and used books for children, with a smaller selection of young adult titles and a "tiny" adult section. At the time the store opened, Green was renting the building and the inventory was about 75% new and 25% used, with about half of the initial used books coming from her own collection. Today, the store stocks around 90% new, and Green owns the building. The selection of YA titles has also decreased a bit over the years, in large part because the neighborhood has gentrified and is full of young couples with babies and toddlers. At the same time, Green has increased her sideline offerings, focusing on quirky, locally produced items. There are tiny newspapers made to look like they were written by insects, pottery made in the Pacific Northwest, and a variety of hand-painted miniatures.

Green Bean's reading fort

Eventually Green added a 400-square-foot outdoor deck with the help of a grant. The deck has a roof and is equipped with heaters, and Green holds many of her events there. When weather allows, she uses the store's yard for activities like Easter egg hunts and fairy house building, and next to the covered porch is what Green described as the store's "magical bush" and "reading fort"--a tree with a wide canopy that drops all the way to the lawn. Green cut a door-shaped hole into the canopy, and the space under the tree is large enough to be used for readings and storytime sessions.

"It's an adorable little building," Green remarked, adding that the "magical bush" was one of the major things that drew her to the property.

Green and her staff of four aim to make "the book experience interactive" for children. To that end, there are dioramas built into many of the store's bookshelves. Each diorama has a theme, often related to a new book or current event, and Green rotates the dioramas every six or eight weeks. A recent Chinese New Year-themed diorama celebrated the start of the Year of the Rooster with a family of chickens sitting around a dinner table loaded with Chinese delicacies. Past dioramas include one based on Jory John's children's book Goodnight Already!, featuring a bear in his bedroom getting ready for bed, and another related to Johanna Wright's Bandits, featuring a family of masked raccoons.

"It's like a mini world or scene in a bookshelf," Green said.  "Kids come in to see the new dioramas."

Throughout the store are a variety of coin-operated vending machines that Green has restored and put to use in a way similar to the dioramas, with themes that rotate based on upcoming books or other events. There was a machine based on Unlikely Friendships by Jennifer S. Holland, which dispensed a pair of plastic animals that wouldn't normally be friends, along with a quote about friendship. There have been ninja machines, finger puppet machines, journal machines and many more.

"We're always thinking of how we can change these machines, to always keep it fresh for the kids," said Green.

Events are a major focus of Green Bean Books. There are four storytime sessions each week, along with a middle readers book club that meets once per month. Green plans frequent themed events, which she loved to do as a teacher. She's put on gnome day, fairy day, superhero day, blanket fort storytime and ninja night, among others. Recently Green held an activism-themed day, involving kids writing postcards to various politicians and creating buttons about what they stood for. On the store's lawn, she has held egg hunts and spoon races, and even brought in therapy bunnies and a therapy llama.

Green plans to start a sensory friendly storytime and would like to host a drag queen storytime. She also wants to expand a program that she began during the holidays called Book It Forward, which allowed customers to buy books for classrooms in a less affluent school. The program ultimately gave classroom libraries to two teachers, and Green brought authors to schools to give signed books to 50 kids. In addition to expanding the Book It Forward program, Green intends to do more school visits and partnerships over the next few years. She said she's paying particular attention to balancing working with schools that have money and schools that don't have money.

"We're trying to make sure that great authors and illustrators are available to kids of all different income levels," added Green.

Green would love to expand her building, but says she would need a "giant grant" for that. In the meantime, she and her staff will constantly look for opportunities to add more creativity to the store. Said Green: "Our strength is our creativity." --Alex Mutter


Thomas Nelson: Perennials by Julie Cantrell


Obituary Note: Audrey Eisman

Audrey Eisman

Audrey Eisman, the former coordinator of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, died April 23, Bookselling This Week reported. She was 79. Eisman, who was the publicity director of Stein and Day Publishers from 1983 to 1991, joined the American Booksellers Association in 1992. She was hired by current ABA CEO Oren Teicher soon after he became president of ABFFE. Eisman left ABA in 1998, when Chris Finan succeeded Teicher as ABFFE president and moved the ABFFE office to Manhattan.

Following her retirement, Eisman continued to work for ABFFE as its book editor, and remained in this position after ABFFE became American Booksellers for Free Expression as part of ABA, in 2015.

"Audrey Eisman played an important role in helping us launch ABFFE," said Teicher. "She was a fierce First Amendment advocate and a voracious reader. She was also a very hard worker and an incredibly loyal employee. ABA was fortunate to have her in our employ for a long time. In her later years, Chris Finan, ABFE's current director, was instrumental in ensuring Audrey received the care and help that she needed, and all of us who knew and worked with Audrey are most grateful for all Chris did on her behalf."


Quirk Books: My Lady's Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel by Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris


Notes

Image of the Day: Michigan Tote Bags

The idea began at Winter Institute a couple of years ago, when a group of Michigan booksellers got together. Sue Boucher of Cottage Book Shop in Glen Arbor noted that local knitting shops had put together a passport to encourage people to visit all their stores. That idea morphed into a bag to promote bookstore tourism in Michigan. After another meeting in January, Boucher had the bags designed and printed in Glen Arbor.The bags, listing 14 stores on the back, with a map on the front, will be available for purchase at Michigan stores on Independent Bookstore Day.
 
Showing off their cool totes: (l.-r., back row) Susan Murphy, Pages Book Shop; Janet Webster Jones, Source Booksellers; Lynn Riehl, Nicola's; Mike Gustafson, Literati; Sue Boucher, Cottage Book Shop; Derek Molitor, Bookbug; Tim Smith, Schuler's; Matt Norcross, McLean & Eakin; (front) Diane Steggerda, Bookman; Hilary Gustafson, Literati; Jessilyn Norcross, McLean & Eakin.

Cool Mention of the Day: Gulf of Maine Books' Gary Lawless

A profile of novelist Elizabeth Strout called "A Long Homecoming" in the current New Yorker, on the occasion of the release of Anything Is Possible (Random House), mentions a visit by Strout and her husband, Jim Tierney, to Gulf of Maine Books, Brunswick, Me., owned by Gary Lawless and Beth Leonard. Strout and Tierney, who the story emphasizes, loves to talk, say hello to Lawless, "a poet with a long white beard and hair, whose father was once the police chief in a town up the coast. 'I never get tongue-tied except when you're here,' Lawless told Strout. 'When Jim's here, I get ear-tired.' "


IPS to Distribute Fodor's Travel

Effective July 1, Ingram Publisher Services will distribute Fodor's Travel, a subsidiary of Internet Brands, which bought the travel publisher from Penguin Random House last year. Ingram already distributes Nolo Press, which is another Internet Brands subsidiary.

Internet Brands communications director Joe Ewaskiw commented: "Since Fodor's Travel joined Internet Brands last year, we've been increasing the investment in content and the number of titles produced each year. Thus our goal in choosing a distributor was to find a partner who could scale Fodor's sales while maintaining the brand's reputation for quality. After much consideration, we determined Ingram was an ideal fit--especially after seeing the positive experience with Ingram that Nolo Press has enjoyed over the past seven years."



Media and Movies

Media Heat: Jeffrey Toobin on Fresh Air

Today:
CBS This Morning: Senator Bernie Sanders, author of Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In (Thomas Dunne Books, $27, 9781250132925).

Fresh Air: Jeffrey Toobin, author of American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst (Anchor, $16.95, 978 0345803153).


On Stage: Between the World and Me

A theatrical production of Between the World and Me, the National Book Award winner and Pulitzer Prize finalist by Ta-Nehisi Coates, will be brought to the Apollo Theater in Harlem next April. The New York Times reported that the book "will be adapted into a multimedia performance, with excerpted monologues, video projections, and a score by the jazz musician Jason Moran. Portions of Mr. Coates's letters to his son would be read aloud, while narratives of his experiences at Howard University and in New York City could be performed by actors."

Kamilah Forbes, the Apollo's executive producer who will direct the production, said, "The second I put the book down, I wanted to call everyone who had read the book, and who would stay up with me at 3 a.m. The hope is that we're taking that solitary experience of reading the book and expanding that to a collective experience."

Casting, which has yet to be announced, "will be fluid over the show's short run. "There's a mix of everyday folks and celebrity voices," Forbes noted."One night is going to be vastly different from the next."


Books & Authors

Granta Names 'Best of Young American Novelists'

Every 10 years, Granta devotes a special issue to new American fiction, "showcasing the young novelists deemed to be the best of their generation--writers of remarkable achievement and promise, still in their twenties and thirties." The Best of Young American Novelists of 2017, "21 outstanding writers who capture the preoccupations of modern America," are: Jesse Ball, Halle Butler, Emma Cline, Joshua Cohen, Mark Doten, Jen George, Rachel B Glaser, Lauren Groff, Yaa Gyasi, Garth Risk Hallberg, Greg Jackson, Sana Krasikov, Catherine Lacey, Ben Lerner, Karan Mahajan, Anthony Marra, Dinaw Mengestu, Ottessa Moshfegh, Chinelo Okparanta, Esmé Weijun Wang, and Claire Vaye Watkins.


Awards: Edgars; Publishing Triangle; Chicago Tribune YA; Dewdney Read Together

Here are the winners of the 2017 Edgar Awards, who were honored last night at the Mystery Writers of America banquet in New York City:

Best novel: Before the Fall by Noah Hawley (Grand Central)
Best first novel: Under the Harrow by Flynn Berry (Penguin)
Best paperback original: Rain Dogs by Adrian McKinty (Seventh Street Books/ Prometheus)
Best fact crime: The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer by Kate Summerscale (Penguin)
Best critical/biographical: Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin (Liveright/Norton)
Best short story: "Autumn at the Automat"--In Sunlight or in Shadow by Lawrence Block (Pegasus Books)
Best young adult: Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse (Little, Brown BFYR)
Best juvenile: OCDaniel by Wesley King (Paula Wiseman Books/S&S)
Best TV episode teleplay: "A Blade of Grass"--Penny Dreadful, teleplay by John Logan (Showtime)
Robert L. Fish Memorial Award: "The Truth of the Moment"--Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by E. Gabriel Flores (Dell Magazines)
S&S/Mary Higgins Clark Award: The Shattered Tree by Charles Todd (Morrow)
Grand Master: Max Allan Collins, Ellen Hart
Raven Award: Dru Ann Love
Ellery Queen Award: Neil Nyren

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Winners of the 29th annual Publishing Publishing Triangle Awards, honoring the best LGBTQ fiction, nonfiction, poetry and trans literature published in 2016, were presented last night in New York City. The winners are:

The Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT Fiction: They May Not Mean To, But They Do by Cathleen Schine (Sarah Crichton Books/FSG)
The Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction: Jazz Moon by Joe Okonkwo (Kensington)
The Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Nonfiction: Conflict Is Not Abuse by Sarah Schulman (Arsenal Pulp Press)
The Randy Shilts Award for Gay Nonfiction: How to Survive a Plague by David France (Knopf)
The Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry: Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong (Copper Canyon Press)
The Audre Lorde Award for Lesbian Poetry: Play Dead by Francine J. Harris (Alice James Books)
Trans/Gender-Variant Literature Award: Even This Page Is White by Vivek Shraya (Arsenal Pulp Press)
Betty Berzon Emerging Writer Award: Chinelo Okparanta
The Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement: Michael Bronski, an author, professor and independent scholar who has been involved in gay liberation as a political organizer, journalist, writer, editor, publisher and theorist since 1969. His books include Pulp Friction: Uncovering the Golden Age of Gay Male Pulps and A Queer History of the United States. Bronski serves as the editor for two series of books at Beacon Press, Queer Ideas and Queer Action. His latest book is Considering Hate: Violence, Goodness, and Justice in American Culture and Politics, coauthored with Kay Whitlock.
Leadership Award: John Scognamiglio, the editor-in-chief at Kensington Publishing who will be launching his own imprint, John Scognamiglio Books, in 2018, "for his long-standing commitment to present the best LGBTQ literature."

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David Levithan has won the Chicago Tribune's 2017 Young Adult Literary Prize, which recognizes "an author whose work is aimed at a young adult audience, addresses themes especially relevant to adolescents, inspires young readers, and champions literacy." He will be honored at the 2017 Printers Row Lit Fest on June 10 in downtown Chicago.

Levithan, who is an editorial director at Scholastic and the founding editor of the Scholastic YA imprint PUSH, has written or co-written 23 novels. He commented: "It's important to have a range of LGBTQIA+ voices in YA literature because there is a range of LGBTQIA+ experiences in life. Every teen deserves to be represented in some way in the books he or she or they or ze reads. It's as simple as that."

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Edward Gets Messy, by Brooklyn librarian Rita Meade, illustrated by Olga Stern (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers) has won the first Anna Dewdney Read Together Award, sponsored by Penguin Young Readers, the Children's Book Council and Every Child a Reader. This award is for "a picture book that is both a superb read-aloud and also sparks compassion, empathy, and connection. The award commemorates the life and work of author/illustrator Anna Dewdney and celebrates her commitment to reading with young children and putting books into as many little hands as possible."

The organizers said that Edward Gets Messy is about "a very particular little pig discovers the joys that come with getting messy in this sweet and fun debut picture book. Edward the pig never pets friendly dogs on the street. He never, ever eats food that spills or splatters. And he never, ever, EVER uses markers or glue sticks or paint. They are just too messy. But what happens when a big tub of paint falls on Edward's perfectly neat little head? Well, it might just turn out that getting messy has its upsides, too."


Reading with... Lidia Yuknavitch

photo: Andrew Kovalev

Lidia Yuknavitch is the author of the novel The Book of Joan (Harper, April 18), which was recently optioned for film; the The Small Backs of Children, winner of the 2016 Oregon Book Award's Ken Kesey Award for Fiction and the Reader's Choice Award; the novel Dora: A Headcase; three books of short fiction: Her Other Mouths, Liberty's Excess and Real to Reel; and a critical book on war and narrative, Allegories of Violence. Her memoir, The Chronology of Water, was a finalist for a PEN Center USA Award for creative nonfiction and winner of a PNBA Award and the Oregon Reader's Choice Book Award. The book based on her recent TED Talk, The Misfit's Manifesto, will be published by Simon & Schuster in October 2017. She founded the workshop series Corporeal Writing in Portland, Ore., where she also teaches.

On your nightstand now:

On my nightstand right now is a pile of books by writers whose voices and themes seem to be cracking the whole world open: Melissa Febos's Abandon Me, Sarah Gerard's Sunshine State, Layli Long Soldier's poetry book Whereas, Garth Greenwell's What Belongs to You and Claudia Rankine's Citizen (which I consider the most important book written in the last 50 years). To be honest I'm surprised my nightstand has not burst into flames from the creative innovation alive in these books.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Well it's a tie. I loved Are You My Mother? so much as a kid I used to read it and cry. A lot. I think even though my mother lived in my house, she was absent--she was an alcoholic as well as a real estate agent who made herself gone as much as possible. Where "mother" felt like it should be, there was an absence, a story of a woman from Texas who I barely knew. It is only now that I am 54 and raising my own son that I feel closest to her. Maybe her story got inside me after all--when I feel joy, I remember she is one of the only people I have ever known who understood the weight of joy. I actually ate some pieces of pages from my other favorite book. I had a mild case of pica as a kid (the uncontrollable desire to eat non-nutritive things; in my case, paper, dirt and pennies), and so I ate the corners of certain pages of Where the Wild Things Are, which was published the year I was born. Somehow, the way my life turned out, it seems right that I devoured that story and the colors and images.

Your top five authors:

Mary Shelley, Marguerite Duras, Gertrude Stein, Margaret Atwood, Doris Lessing, Kathy Acker, Toni Morrison, Jeanette Winterson, Carole Maso, Ai, Carolyn Forché, Joy Harjo, Virginia Woolf and Arundhati Roy. Wait--that's five, right?

Book you've faked reading:

Moby-Dick. I mean, I read LARGE SWATHS of that thing, enough to know I hated it. I know I know I know!!!! Everyone on the planet loves it! But all I could see was a man driven by a kind of strange ambition--a rageful hunger to conquer. For me it's a story about male power, the kind of power obsession that devours everything in its path. Thus, I skipped to all the whale pages. I was rooting for the whale. I was profoundly rooting for the whale. I'm still rooting for the whales.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Citizen. Claudia Rankine. No other book in my adult lifetime has more articulately and eloquently--both at the level of form as well as content--unraveled the fraught knot of social organization in the United States during our time period and illuminated the multi-voiced, plural-bodied fact of us amongst one another, as well as the stories that we carry around in our bodies. A plurality of black subjectivity positions emerges unrestrained by the dominant culture, which has had as its central drive repression and oppression and violence against those very voices and bodies. The narrative fragments rise like sediments of human history unearthing the rest of the story--the story underneath America--the very ground and voice and body of a country.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Zoo City by Lauren Beukes, cover art by Joey Hi-Fi. Absolutely mesmerized by the animal/human/environment letters consuming themselves.

Book you hid from your parents:

The Stand by Stephen King. My father saw me reading it and took it away. When I objected and asked him why, he said that it was smut reading, which pretty much emblazoned the book onto my heart and guaranteed I'd defy him as soon as possible. That's the last thing he ever took from me. In addition, I stole a new copy from our library, and I wrote whole passages of the novel on the wall inside my bedroom closet before I left home forever. Like a hex of sorts.

Book that changed your life:

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. I consider her story to be paradigmatic of so very much that matters to me--monsterhood and how we create it; motherhood and how we don't understand it, and thus contain it; the masculine drive for knowledge and progress, and how creation and destruction make a helix; the intimate relationship between rage and love; and then the unbounded and ungodly imagination of a girl let loose on the page before culture could contain her.

Favorite line from a book:

Three-way tie:

"Tell all the truth but tell it slant" --Emily Dickinson

"You alone became the outer surface of my life, the side I never see, and you will be that, the unknown part of me, until I die." --Marguerite Duras

"Trust me, I'm telling you stories.... I can change the story. I am the story." --Jeanette Winterson

Five books you'll never part with:

Empire of the Senseless by Kathy Acker, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Beloved by Toni Morrison, The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy and Almanac of the Dead by Leslie Marmon Silko. In each of these books, there is a haunting and a liminal space created that I understand intimately from the death of my daughter. That space is my life, my psychosis, my imagination, my creativity, my heart.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

The God of Small Things. No other book happened to me the way that this novel did. It unraveled my very being. The language reinvented my imagination and heart. It killed me with its beauty and thus gave me life; it brought me out of America and into the world in a way that I will never forget.

What you think books should do to their readers:

I believe books should happen to you. I believe books should get in you and rearrange your DNA forever.


Book Review

Review: Lonesome Lies Before Us

Lonesome Lies Before Us by Don Lee (W.W. Norton, $26.95 hardcover, 336p., 9780393608816, June 6, 2017)

As if he couldn't get enough of the fictional Pacific Coast Rosarita Bay, that "wonderfully sad, forlorn, gone-to-seed town with gone-to-seed inhabitants" where Don Lee set his Kaufman Prize-winning story collection Yellow and Thurber Prize-nominee novel Wrack and Ruin, he mines this rich motherlode again in Lonesome Lies Before Us. In a melancholy, middle-aged love story, Yadin Park is a 46-year-old worn-out former alt-country singer-songwriter suffering hearing loss and working as a carpet installer to claw his way out of bankruptcy, while dating his boss's daughter, Jeanette Matsuda. At 39 and on the housekeeping staff at the swanky Centurion resort, Jeanette has pretty much accepted "that her destiny was to be dowdy," and Yadin is as good as she is going to get. They sing together in the choir of the local Unitarian Church, stock up at Costco after Sunday services and spend two nights a week together with occasional sex. As Yadin reflects, "They didn't share many interests or hobbies. They didn't discuss politics, or books, or art, or sports, or music.... They didn't talk about anything, really, other than the quotidian.... It wasn't perfect, but what relationship was?"

Like a good country song, however, both Yadin and Jeanette have disheartening romantic pasts that left them in this sorry state of malaise. Yadin wrote the songs for his almost successful band Whisper Creek and had a yearlong drug- and alcohol-fueled affair with its lead singer, Mallory Wick. Painfully shy on stage, he let her take the publicity and raves for his music. When she made it in Nashville and left him, he gave up the music scene, the wild life, the dreams, and gravitated to Rosarita Bay. Jeanette was an 18-year-old wannabe West Coast activist and aspiring news photographer who fell for a charismatic law student organizer before he dumped her when she got pregnant. She reluctantly had an abortion and settled in her small Rosarita house, resigned to take care of her widowed father and to clean hotel rooms. These reluctant, cautious lovers don't want to be burned again. When Mallory shows up at the Centurion incognito for a few days of golf, however, Jeanette and Yadin's fragile attempt at "something approaching normalcy, belonging to someone and some place, having a life that was no longer provisional" comes undone.

Lonesome Lies Before Us may sound like a hokey country weeper, but Lee is a master of the everyday. He cuts as close to the bone as possible without leaving a puddle of maudlin blood on the floor. Jeanette's first housekeeping job at the sleazy Holiday Breeze motel involves sheets "stained with bong water, burned with holes, littered with cigarette butts and roach ends." He also notes Yadin's worship of the heartbreaking songs of Townes Van Zandt and Gram Parsons, quoting the former's pronouncement that "There's only two kinds of music: the blues and zippity-doo-dah." This is a love story with all the regrets and slender hopes one inevitably carries into old age. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Shelf Talker: Like a sad, shuffling country song, Don Lee's novel tells of the awkward relationship of a middle-aged former singer-songwriter and a resort housekeeper--both with hobbling pasts.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: #NationalPoetryMonth--Last Call

I knock off work, 
have a beer 
at the bar.
I look down at the glass
and feel glad.

These lines are from "Another One," written by Ron Padgett for the movie Paterson, in which we literally watch Paterson, N.J., bus driver/poet Paterson (Adam Driver) create this poem and others. Since I saw the film, I've been more than a little haunted by an image: Paterson sitting quietly at his local watering hole, trying to mind his own business, late into the night, with his dog waiting patiently outside. Maybe it's a nice way to consider the final weekend of National Poetry Month 2017, which could get overwhelmed by the bright lights of Independent Bookstore Day.

Last call for Poetry Month. Here are a few items I found this week in my e-mail inbox and elsewhere that may tide us over until May, which also happens to be poetry month (lower case), as are June, July, August and the lot. In my house, at least.

Bookshop haiku: John Evans, co-owner of DIESEL, A Bookstore in Oakland, Larkspur and Brentwood, Calif., responded eloquently to last week's writing prompts for booksellers column: "Thanks for prompting us to participate in National Poetry Month directly. Here's a little haiku for you":

Rilke in Boulder
reading Borges in Boston
summer in bookstores

leaves silently turn
voices murmur about books
autumn wind in store

soft blocks made from trees
open pages in bookstore
now warm as snow falls

green sprouts from paper
cool breeze moistens open eyes
Whitman off the shelf

Poetry vending machine: Colin McDonald, marketing manager for Chicago's Seminary Co-op Bookstores, told me the Co-op "has 'installed' a free poetry vending machine at the entrance to our store, designed by poet Yvonne Zipter and stocked with poems we've been sharing on our blog this month in celebration of poetry published by university presses. The machine has been a hit so far, with NBCC Award winning poet D. A. Powell recently tweeting about it during his visit to the Co-op."

They have also been featuring a promotion called "Free Poetry in Five Easy Steps" and, for the second year in a row, both the Co-op and its sister store, 57th Street Books, celebrated Poem in Your Pocket day on April 27 "by inviting poetry readers and doubters alike to memorize and recite for our staff a poem at least eight lines long and receive 20% off their purchase of poetry," McDonald noted.  

Spoken word poets: "We're still celebrating National Poetry Month. Are you?" the Green Toad Bookstore, Oneonta, N.Y., asked on Facebook this week in linking to the Nylon piece "Five Spoken Word Poets Whose Work Will Change You."

"Be aware of the small things": Yusef Komunyakaa shared some advice for aspiring poets with the New York Times: "Attempt to write every day, to read everything, to listen, to be in the world, to challenge ideas and to question ourselves. Because it's not just poetry; it's the experience of inquiry.... Be aware of the small things in the world, not necessarily the monumental things. The small things add up to a monumental reality." Although he is the New York State poet laureate, Komunyakaa is from Louisiana and has lived in other states but calls New York the birthplace of American poetry because it was home to Walt Whitman.

Whitman, Alabama: "This is an experiment in using documentary and poetry to reveal the threads that tie us together--as people, as states, and as a nation." For two years, filmmaker Jennifer Crandall traveled through Alabama, "inviting people to look into the camera and share a part of themselves through the words of Walt Whitman."

Juan Felipe Herrera: "Somehow it is the last week of April, which means it is the last week of National Poetry Month, and the end of Juan Felipe Herrera's term as Poet Laureate," Anne Holmes wrote in a blog post for the Library of Congress. His closing celebration, Speak the People/the Spark/el Poema, was held Wednesday.

Herrara said: "Meshing poetry and music with the Fresno State Chamber Singers, a panel on Latino culture, music by Quetzal--this night is a culmination of two years of beautiful and thoughtful audiences; of trains, planes, cars, highways, children, teachers, and artists; of poetry seekers driving for miles to listen and exchange and tell me about their lives. This event will have all the love I can bring to it, and all the appreciations that have been given to me during these last two years; I hope to give back."

Last call: Posted on Facebook by An Unlikely Story‏, Plainville, Mass.: "#NationalPoetryMonth is almost over! Would you like a recommendation?" Seems like a perfect way to celebrate Independent Bookstore Day.

--Robert Gray, contributing editor (Column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

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