Shelf Awareness for Friday, April 15, 2016

Hanover Square Press: Before the Coffee Gets Cold series by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Del Rey Books: The Book of Elsewhere by Keeanu Reeves and China Miéville

St. Martin's Press: You'll Never Believe Me: A Life of Lies, Second Tries, and Other Stuff I Should Only Tell My Therapist by St. Martin's Press

Watkins Publishing: A Feminist's Guide to ADHD: How Women Can Thrive and Find Focus in a World Built for Men by Janina Maschke

Soho Teen: Only for the Holidays by Abiola Bello

W. W. Norton & Company: Still Life by Katherine Packert Burke

Shadow Mountain: A Kingdom to Claim by Sian Ann Bessey


NC's HB2: "It Is Essential to Be Inclusive"

The following is an open request to repeal HB2 signed by 32 North Carolina bookstores and three North Carolina publishers.

As the owners and managers of independent bookstores, part of our mission is to provide that "third place," an additional public space other than home or work where folks can gather to discuss issues important to our community. Ray Oldenburg, in his book, The Great Good Place, "argues that "third places... are the heart of a community's social vitality and the grassroots of democracy."

As independent bookstores providing that third place in communities across our state, we believe it is essential to be non-discriminatory, inclusive and tolerant, to promote freedom of speech and equality, and to guard against censorship and unfair treatment.

Another part of our mission is to be profitable; to allow ourselves and our employees to earn a respectable living. What both of these mission statements share is the need for people to visit our stores and become customers. Authors have already started to cancel appearances at North Carolina bookstores over what the ACLU describes as "the most extreme anti-LGBT measure in the country." This can and will have a real negative impact on our businesses. It doesn't make sense, financially or otherwise, to choose discrimination over inclusion. Unfortunately, that's exactly what lawmakers have done by passing HB2.

Company after company is withdrawing from doing business in NC until this legislation is repealed. Retailers and others are already feeling the economic impact of this legislation and we are sure, because of the momentum behind more businesses, conferences, artists, rock stars, authors, and ordinary citizens choosing places other than North Carolina to spend their vacations, the worst financial impact is yet to come.

Small Business Majority's polling found 67 percent of North Carolina's entrepreneurs believe North Carolina should have a law prohibiting employment discrimination against LGBT people. Nationally, two-thirds of small businesses say business owners shouldn't be able to deny goods or services to LGBT individuals. (more info on this polling is here)

For North Carolina, the choice between small businesses and discrimination should be clear. We hope our lawmakers make the right decision and repeal HB2.

All Booked Up, Apex
Blue Ridge Books, Waynesville
Bookmarks, Winston-Salem
Books to be Red, Ocracoke
Books Unlimited, Fayetteville
Buxton Village Books, Buxton
C. Clayton Thompson Booksellers, Boone
City Lights Bookstore, Sylva
Downtown Books, Manteo
Ducks Cottage Coffee & Books, Duck
Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill
Letters Bookshop, Durham
Malaprop's Bookstore & Cafe, Asheville
McIntyre's Fine Books, Pittsboro
Novels & Novelties Bookstore, Hendersonville
Page 158 Books, Wake Forest
Pomegranate Books, Wilmington
Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh
Quarter Moon Bookstore, Topsail Beach
Regulator Bookshop, Durham
Scuppernong Books, Greensboro
Scuttlebutt Nautical Books & Bounty, Beaufort
Spellbound Children's Bookshop, Asheville
Sunrise Books, High Point
The Book Shelf, Tryon
The Coffeehound Bookshop, Louisburg
The Dollar Book Exchange, Raleigh
The Island Bookstore, Corolla
The Island Bookstore, Duck
The Island Bookstore, Kitty Hawk
The Red Door, Saxapahaw
Uprising Coffee and Books, Eden

Supporting publishers:
Algonquin Books, a division of Workman Publishing, Chapel Hill & NYC
Eno Publishers, Hillsborough
John F. Blair Publisher, Winston-Salem

W. W. Norton & Company: Still Life by Katherine Packert Burke


Pannell Awards to Brookline Booksmith, Wild Rumpus

Winners have been announced for this year's Pannell Awards, given by the Women's National Book Association to recognize bookstores "that enhance their communities by bringing exceptional creativity to foster a love of reading." The winner in the general bookstore category is Brookline Booksmith in Brookline, Mass., and the children's specialty store winner is Wild Rumpus Books for Young Readers in Minneapolis, Minn.

"Winning the Pannell Award is an unbelievable honor for our 55 year old bookstore," said Dana Brigham of Brookline Booksmith. "One of founder Marshall Smith's core beliefs was in life-long learning. Where better to start than in a vibrant and welcoming kids' section? We were thrilled to be nominated in such amazing company."

Collette Morgan, one of the co-founders of Wild Rumpus, said, "We are exhilarated and flattered to have been chosen for the 2016 Pannell Award. It couldn't have come at a better time. Thank you from the bottom of our collective hearts!"

The winners will be honored on Friday, May 13, during BookExpo America's Children's Book and Author Breakfast, where each will receive a check for $1,000 and a piece of original art from a children's book illustrator.

GLOW: Sourcebooks Landmark: Remember You Will Die by Eden Robins

Report from London, Part 1

Located in the sunny, airy Olympia for the second year in a row--where attendees have become comfortable with the unusual layout--the London Book Fair had an optimistic tone. Like the U.S. book market, the U.K. book business was up, for the first time in several years, with a gain in 2015, and print sales jumped 11.4% in the first quarter of this year, according to Nielsen Bookscan.

Bookshops are similarly doing well. Recently Waterstones and Foyles had their first trading profits in at least several years, and the steady closings of independent bookshops in the U.K. appears to have slowed if not stopped.

Many American visitors made the trek to the Foyles flagship store on Charing Cross Road, which opened in 2014, and continues to amaze visitors. Ironically, this Foyles was superseded in ways as the company's bookshop of the future last fall when Foyles opened a new shop in Birmingham that boasts innovations that will eventually be added to the flagship. (More about Foyles in a future issue.)

In a session giving an overview of the U.S. retail market, American Booksellers Association CEO Oren Teicher shared positive trends in bookselling in the U.S., including the opening of new stores, the opening of new locations by established stores, the ability of booksellers to sell their stores when they retire, the increase in younger bookstore owners and more. Despite challenges on the horizon involving hikes in the minimum wage and skyrocketing retail costs in many cities, "we are absolutely convinced and confident there is a long term, viable road ahead for indie bricks and mortar bookshops," he said.

His conclusion: "We believe that resurgence is contagious. We think it's going to happen around the world."


"Essentially, my experience over those 25 years is if you put a really good bookshop in front of people, it is addictive," said James Daunt, CEO of Waterstones, who was in conversation Monday with Stephen Page, head of Faber and Faber. "Your custom generally grows. Word of mouth works beautifully. And people love buying books. It's just a physical pleasure. I don't think that can be replicated online."

Daunt was hired as Waterstones' chief executive in 2011, when the retailer was in a terrible financial position and at risk of closing. Last year, Waterstones returned to profitability, seeing a small amount of growth in sales. Daunt attributed the turnaround to an extensive campaign to fix Waterstones' individual stores and "re-engage" with the chain's customers. To that end, Waterstones booksellers have been able to imbue their stores with more individuality and personality. The old model of uniform, identical chain retailers, Daunt said, no longer works when faced with competition from Amazon and other online retailers.

Despite the encouraging turnaround, Daunt said he doesn't think the job is done. He stated bluntly that Waterstones' shops aren't good enough yet. Among the tasks still to be done are improving customer service, "sorting out" the Waterstones website and online communications to customers, complementing book sales with non-book products, and finding ways to emphasize the social aspect of bookshops.

Although he warned against getting complacent, Daunt said that he felt confident he and his staff were creating fundamentally good bookstores.

"If we keep on creating shops that [inspire customers], it doesn't really matter what goes on online," he said. "But if we fail in that sense, if we don't give good service, the rules change and the obverse happens and we will be in big trouble But if we do it well, if we recruit good booksellers and continue to be able to invest in our stores, we'll be fine."


Rosamund de la Hey

Rosamund de la Hey, owner and founder of the Mainstreet Trading Company in St. Boswells, Scottish Borders, is the new president of the Booksellers Association of the U.K. and Ireland, the Bookseller reported. She succeeds Tim Walker, who has occupied the post for the past two years.

"As a former publisher it was an eye-opener to discover the breadth and depth of the work done by the BA when I opened the Mainstreet Trading Company in 2008 and it is a great privilege to be able to be a part of its future at such an exciting time," said de la Hey, who was previously children's marketing director at Bloomsbury. "Tim's contribution to the BA over the last two years has been amazing and it's very clear how much impact he has had."

BA CEO Tim Godfray, who thanked Walker for his "fantastic" work, said, "We're thrilled that Rosamund is joining the BA as president. What's particularly special about Rosamund is that as well as having created a stunning community bookshop, she is also a former publisher, which will be hugely valuable to the BA."

Lucy Menendez of WH Smith and Nic Bottomley of Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights are also appointed as vice-presidents.


A new category of the fair's International Excellence Awards was Bookstore of the Year, which was awarded to Readings, which has five shops (and two more in the works) in Melbourne, Australia. Owned by Mark Rubbo, Readings was cited for its "community outreach, support of Australian authors and its help for non-profit organisations working on literacy initiatives."

Joel Becker, executive director of the Australian Booksellers Association, praised the choice, saying, in part, "At the heart of the Readings ethos has been the love of the book, and sharing that love with readers. Reading has a dynamic engagement with the industry, and many bookshop owners, managers and staff, as well as publishers have honed their skills at Readings. The programs and marketing of quality bookshops like Readings has been a building block for developing Australian writing and publishing."


Lovely timing. Just as the U.K.'s Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, John Whittingdale, visited the fair on opening day, he became the center of another government sex scandal, although with twists involving the BBC, press regulation, privacy and more. In any case, apparently two years ago, the divorced minister met a dominatrix call girl on They saw each other regularly for much of 2014, but he says he didn't know she was a call girl. He broke off the relationship when a reporter called and informed him of his lover's profession.

The news became public only this week, and one wag at the fair claimed to have seen Whittingdale "whipping up and down the aisles" and another said the minister wasn't able to return the following days because "he'd gotten tied up."

During his fair visit, Whittingdale did have time to meet with Russian Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky. According to the Russian embassy in London, the two discussed the "development of Russo-British cultural and humanitarian contacts," which the embassy drily described as "almost the only sphere of bilateral relations not affected political disagreements." --John Mutter and Alex Mutter

U.S. Poet Laureate Herrera Reappointed

Juan Felipe Herrera

Juan Felipe Herrera has been appointed to serve a second term as U.S. Poet Laureate. During his first term, he created the online project "La Casa de Colores," comprising two initiatives: "La Familia," a submission-based epic poem asking for the participation of the general public, and "El Jardín," a series chronicling his experiences exploring and interacting with the Library of Congress's resources and collections. His second term will begin September 1. Previous multiyear laureates include Natasha Trethewey, Kay Ryan, Ted Kooser and Billy Collins.

"In his first term as Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera traveled the country championing poetry; he also launched an ambitious project on the Library's website," said acting Librarian of Congress David Mao, who announced the appointment at Herrera's end-of the-term lecture Wednesday. "We look forward to seeing what Herrera will accomplish in his second term, and we know he will continue to inspire and educate with his warmth, enthusiasm and creative genius."

Herrera expressed "deep gratitude and great joy, and many thank-yous to the Library. I look forward to continuing my first year's momentum and sharing the inspiration tsunami given to me in every community that I visit throughout the USA as laureate."

OR Books Acquires Serif Books

OR Books, which specializes in selling e-books and POD paperbacks direct to customers as well as to bookstores, has acquired U.K. publisher Serif Books. Serif was founded by the late Stephen Hayward, who died last October. OR said it will maintain the Serif Books imprint and continue to publish new books under it. Contracts with existing Serif authors will be honored by OR.

"I knew Serif's founder and publisher, Stephen Hayward, over many years," said Colin Robinson, co-publisher at OR Books. "I always admired his approach to publishing and share his commitment to progressive books that are intelligent, well-written and of international appeal, as well as carefully edited and elegantly designed. These are values that my fellow co-publisher, John Oakes, and I have tried to sustain over the six years since we first set up OR. We're delighted to be able to bring the Serif list under OR's wing and aim to develop the imprint in the adventurous, lively spirit with which Stephen ran it."

Obituary Note: Gwyn Thomas

Gwyn Thomas, the former National Poet of Wales who "published numerous volumes of poetry, was a literary and cultural critic and also translated the mythical Mabinogion stories into English," died April 13, BBC News reported. He was 79. Gillian Clarke, the current National Poet of Wales, said she was "so sorry" her predecessor "has gone. He could not have been kinder, more welcoming or more helpful to me when I followed him into the role in 2008."

Literature Wales praised Thomas as "one of the main interpreters of the Welsh tradition in both his poetry and in his academic work. He had the imagination and the energy to combine the ancient and the modern in a way that underlines the continuous relevance of that tradition. He was an inspiration to many young writers and students for over half a century. His contribution is immeasurable and continuous."


Image of the Day: Copperfield's Books Novato Opening

Copperfield's co-owner Paul Jaffe cuts the ribbon for the new store. On his left is store manager Winona Wagner.

More than 300 book lovers of all ages lined up around the block Wednesday night for the ribbon-cutting ceremony at Copperfield's Books eighth store, which is located at 999 Grant Avenue in Novato, Calif.

"Community reception has been incredible," said Copperfield's president and co-owner Paul Jaffe. "We know we are coming into a community of readers. From the Novato Chamber to the City of Novato to our neighbors on Grant and Redwood, everyone agrees it's time Novato had its own bookstore. We're excited to be that bookstore."

L.A.'s New Art Bookstores: Two Shops 'Meet a Demand'

In Los Angeles, Artbook @ Hauser Wirth & Schimmel and Hennessey + Ingalls Art & Architecture Bookstore "sit just a few blocks from each other along a stretch of Third Street in the Arts District, and both cater to book lovers with an interest in the visual arts," DTLA reported, adding: "The arrivals spark a couple questions: Given the economic climate, why did two book shops with a seemingly overlapping base open so close to each other just three weeks apart? Also, are there enough customers to go around?"

Both stores expressed confidence, pointing "to the booming Arts District, which is seeing a surge not just in residents, but also culture.... The two bookstores are only a few blocks from each other. Although not identical, they both specialize in the world of art and design," DTLA wrote.

"We looked in Mid-City, Westwood, Culver City. We never really thought about Downtown, since we've always been a Westside company," said Hennessy + Ingalls owner Brett Hennessey. "We took a tour of Downtown about a year ago, after all of the announcements, like Hauser Wirth & Schimmel, and started thinking about it. We've had a strong relationship with SCI-Arc for decades. So that was a draw, the community and the property."

Artbook store manager Peter Fankhauser regularly sends customers to Hennessey + Ingalls if a shopper might have better luck finding a specific book there, and Hennessey said he reciprocates, noting that part of that cross-promotion comes from both stores being new to the area and trying to keep clientele happy.

"It's nice having other bookstores in the area," Fankhauser said. "I think it's all in the interest of building up a more critical discourse about arts in the Arts District. That doesn't exist unless you have places where you can find publications."

Personnel Changes at PRH, Counterpoint/Soft Skull

Dominique Cimina has been promoted to v-p, executive director, publicity and corporate communications, at Random House Children's Books. She was formerly director, publicity and corporate communications, and originally joined the division nearly 10 years.


Katie Schoder has been promoted to publicist at Knopf. She was formerly an associate publicist.


Megan Fishmann has been promoted from director of publicity to director of publicity and marketing at Counterpoint Press and Soft Skull Press.

Book Trailer of the Day: Fever at Dawn

Fever at Dawn by Péter Gárdos, translated by Elizabeth Szász (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). A filmmaker, Gárdos has also made a movie Fever at Dawn; see the trailer here.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Frances Jensen on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Frances Jensen, author of The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist's Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults (Harper, $27.99, 9780062067845).

TV: Fahrenheit 451; The Night Manager

HBO won an auction "that included Legendary, IM Global and Hulu for rights to turn Ray Bradbury's cautionary classic Fahrenheit 451 into an event film" that will be written and directed by Ramin Bahrani (99 Homes), who will exec produce with Alan Gasmer and Peter Jaysen. Deadline reported that the deal "gives new life to a property that languished at Warner Bros. for over a decade, with top talent like Frank Darabont and Mel Gibson stepping in and out along the way."


AMC has released a new trailer for The Night Manager, a six-part miniseries based on John le Carré's novel, Indiewire reported. Directed by Susanne Bier (In a Better World), the project stars Tom Hiddleston, Hugh Laurie, Olivia Colman, Tom Hollander and Elizabeth Debicki. The Night Manager premieres April 19.

Books & Authors

Awards: Man Booker International

Finalists have been announced for the 2016 Man Booker International Prize. Each shortlisted author and translator receives £1,000 (about $1,415), while the £50,000 (about $70,735) prize will be divided equally between the author and translator of the winning entry. For the first time, the Man Booker International Prize will be on the basis of a single book, after having joined forces with the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize last year. This year's winner will be named May 16 in London. The shortlisted titles are:

A General Theory of Oblivion by José Eduardo Agualusa (Angola), translated by Daniel Hahn (U.K.)
The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante (Italy), translated Ann Goldstein (U.S.)
The Vegetarian by Han Kang (South Korea), translated by Deborah Smith (U.K.)
A Strangeness in My Mind by Orhan Pamuk (Turkey), translated by Ekin Oklap (Turkey)
A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler (Austria), translated by Charlotte Collins (U.K.)
The Four Books by Yan Lianke (China), translated by Carlos Rojas (U.S.)

Book Brahmin: Jack Bishop

photo: Steve Klise

Jack Bishop is the chief creative officer of America's Test Kitchen. He joined the staff of Cook's Magazine in 1988 and helped with the launch of Cook's Illustrated in 1993. He established the tasting protocols used at America's Test Kitchen and has written dozens of articles for the magazine. Bishop directed the launch of Cook's Country magazine and oversees editorial operations at both magazines. He is the tasting lab expert on America's Test Kitchen, the top-rated public television cooking show, and on Cook's Country from America's Test Kitchen. Bishop established the book division at America's Test Kitchen and he is the author of several cookbooks. America's Test Kitchen's latest cookbook is Master of the Grill: Foolproof Recipes, Top-Rated Gadgets, Gear & Ingredients, Plus Clever Test Kitchen Tips & Fascinating Food Science (April 26, 2016).

On your nightstand now:

Dreamland by Sam Quinones; My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout; Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff; Ghettoside by Jill Leovy; The Sunlit Night by Rebecca Dinerstein.

Favorite book when you were a child:

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle.

Your top five authors:

Lorrie Moore, George Eliot, Henry James, Donna Tartt, Anthony Trollope.

Book you've faked reading:

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Sure, the first line (see below) is memorable, but the nuances of the French Revolution are tough going. I faked reading this book in junior high school, and then failed again as a parent trying to read along with my younger daughter when she was assigned this book for school. She eventually finished the book (and loved it). I gave up for a second time.

Book you're an evangelist for:

M Train by Patti Smith.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Peru: The Cookbook by Gastón Acurio.

Book you hid from your parents:

My parents let me read everything.

Book that changed your life:

The first adult book I ever read was Love Story by Erich Segal. I was seven years old and I can remember the feeling of being hooked, for the first time, by a strong narrative. I literally couldn't stop reading this book.

Favorite line from a book:

The first line from A Tale of Two Cities. It's memorable, majestic and very, very long. What a great start.

Five books you'll never part with:

I own thousands of cookbooks. Here are the five that have made the biggest impression on my life in the kitchen:

The Classic Italian Cook Book by Marcella Hazan. This book taught me how to make great food from simple ingredients.

Chez Panisse Pasta, Pizza, and Calzone by Alice Waters. The perfect blend of tradition and innovation.

Bread Alone by Daniel Leader. I can't imagine life without great bread.

Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. This book captures how I cook now.

Tender by Nigel Slater. I love vegetables and this is my favorite book on the subject--other than my own!

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

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. The section set in Las Vegas is so original and haunting. And what great characters.

Book Review

Review: The Bricks That Built the Houses

The Bricks That Built the Houses by Kate Tempest (Bloomsbury, $26 hardcover, 9781620409015, May 3, 2016)

Kate Tempest writes of her South London turf like one of its young, club-hopping, drug-tooting, ambisexual hedonists. She's a manic whirlwind who lives up to her chosen surname, a Zadie Smith if Smith were in her 20s again, an Amy Winehouse but with more self-discipline. Tempest is an artistic prodigy: rapper (Mercury Music Prize nominee for Everybody Down), acclaimed playwright (Wasted) and winner of the Ted Hughes poetry award (Brand New Ancients). She's got chops. Her first novel, The Bricks That Built the Houses, is an engrossing story of young Londoners from the wrong side of the river struggling to make it in a world where options are limited, family ties are frayed, and a frothy pint and line of coke help make the days go by--yet they still have their dreams and yearn for love while "forcing a good time out of their tired, broken hearts."

Becky is a 26-year-old music video dancer, barista in her uncle's café and on-call "happy ending" masseuse who aspires to join a professional dance company and choreograph her own show. Her father's a lefty writer and politician in jail for sex crimes with his underage staff. Her mother is a born-again Jew who ran off to the American Midwest. Her boyfriend Pete is habitually unemployed, unmotivated, and jealous of her massage johns. Despite lofty ambitions, Becky lives in fear of "the next twenty years playing out in the space between the counter and the flat and the casting calls and the auditions she can't get.... Twenty years of nothing changing but the rent." Then Becky meets Pete's sister, Harry. An androgynous lesbian, Harry and her childhood classmate Leon are high-end drug dealers, serving both head-bobbing hipsters in trance clubs and their bespoke-suited bosses in skyscraper offices above the city. Becky and Harry connect, and The Bricks That Built the Houses becomes a modern urban love story--albeit one with a world of complications. Harry and Leon get set up by a new supplier and take off with his money and drugs. Pete's jealousy invades Becky's carefully compartmentalized world. The reliable "bricks" of family and meaningful work are not there to support their fragile lives.

Tempest has an observant eye for the look and behavior of her characters. Pete, for example, "walks on his tiptoes with a precarious strut that makes him look like he can't keep up with himself... unsteady on his legs like he's surprised at their length." She captures sprawling London in the early dawn as it "yawns and cracks the bones in her knuckles," and its suburbs where the "shops sell floaty dresses and designer pestle and mortars." Tempest's captivating The Bricks That Built the Houses is rich in detail, clever in plot and filled with characters who live on the edge but never quite give up. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Shelf Talker: Poet, playwright and rapper Kate Tempest captures the hearts and burdens of sprawling London's youth in an accomplished first novel.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: National Poetry Month, Random Lines

April is the coolest month for poetry, as officially designated even for those of us who mark the spirit of NPM on other calendars: National Poetry Year, National Poetry Decade, National Poetry Lifetime, National Poetry Century, National Poetry Era. Whew! For the moment, I'll restrain myself to sharing a few random lines from #NPM2016:

Bill Murray reads to construction workers at Poets House.

Bill Murray loves Lucille Clifton's poetry. Bill Murray also shared some of his favorite poems with Leigh Haber, O, the Oprah Magazine's books editor, in his room at Manhattan's Carlyle Hotel. "It was so funny," Haber said. "He had scraps of paper on which he'd scribbled notes and Xeroxes of poems. His love of poetry was obvious from how much pleasure he took in reading the poems aloud to us."

"And it is National Poetry Month!" the Twig Bookshop, San Antonio, Tex., noted in its e-newsletter last week. "As I gathered the poetry books for a display and decided to feature our local poets, I was surprised but proud that we have so many!" Also on display: City Lit Books, Chicago, Ill. ("National Poetry Month #truth #bookstore #bookstagram); Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, Mich. ("Happy National Poetry Month!"); and Diesel, A Bookstore, Oakland, Calif. ("#NationalPoetryMonth #ExclamationMark").

Diesel's Poetry Month display

Speaking of Diesel, co-manager Brad Johnson described NPM as "a sort of 'High Holy Month' " at the bookstore. "For the past several years now we've been doing our Video-Poem of the Day project during the month of April. We're always pretty proud to hear our friends and colleagues at Diesel reading. This year we've also solicited some original pieces from 5th graders at a local writing program in downtown Oakland, Chapter 510. Those have yet to debut, but they are so very good. Looking forward to their debut to the world."  

Most Likely to Succeed... at Poetry: Powell's Books, Portland, Ore., is hosting its annual Poetry Madness celebration, and this year "we're asking you, fellow poetry scholars, to take part in Powell's own yearbook superlative-style competition."

"April is National Poetry Month. Why should you care?" asked McLean & Eakin Bookstore, Petoskey, Mich. "1. Poetry improves your vocabulary and communication skills. 2. Poetry gives you new ideas and expands your imagination. 3. It's a small time investment for a large payoff. 4. Jim Morrison loved poetry, and everybody loves Jim Morrison."  

Celebrate #NPM April 25 with MashReads and NYC's the Strand bookstore, which will host "Writing and Resistance, a night of poetry readings and conversation featuring a bevy of talented New York poets.... Throughout the night, poets will read poems and discuss themes of resistance, struggle and the forces both internal and external that would prevent poetry," Mashable noted.

In Scientific American magazine, Evelyn Lamb wrote that as she celebrated Math Poetry Month, she "stumbled on an early example of mathematical poetry in the solution to the cubic equation." In terza rima, no less. A sample:

When the cube with the cose beside it
Equates itself to some other whole number,
Find two others, of which it is the difference.

For the first time, Canada will be part of Poem in Your Pocket Day April 21, Quillblog reported. Jennifer Benka, executive director of the Academy of American Poets, said, "We're thrilled to be working with the League of Canadian Poets this April to promote contemporary poets and poetry in both our countries and across borders. Seeing as we both introduced and organize National Poetry Month, collaboration makes sense."

Mrs. Dalloway's Literary & Garden Arts, Berkeley, Calif., is also sharing "pocket poems." Mary McCulloch Fox, the poetry buyer and poetry events coordinator, told Bookselling This Week she handles the formatting of each poem for printing, which is done by Minuteman Press in Berkeley. "The poems go out on April 1 and stay out on the floor for the whole month of April." she noted, adding that there were about 1,800 pocket poems placed around the store.

From the Red Balloon Bookshop, St. Paul, Minn.: "In honor of #NationalPoetryMonth we'll be tweeting haiku written by our staff for the month of April. Stay tuned!"

"I love National Poetry Month," wrote Sarah Bagby of Watermark Books, Wichita, Kans.: "This year marks the 20th anniversary of the initiative. Publishers and literary arts organizations are pulling out the stops this year in celebration. I love the Borzoi Reader newsletter. This one features Kevin Young, one of the best American poets at work today. Originally from Topeka, Kansas, educated at Stanford, He is heavily influenced by the poets Langston Hughes, John Berryman, and Emily Dickinson and by the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. Here is the link to the Walt Whitman poem I tried to share last week. It's one of my favorites."

And, to close with perspective, here are a few not-so-random lines from "Plot Points" by Clive James as a little #NPM2016 reality check:

While you were reading this
Millions of stars moved closer
Towards their own extinction
So many years ago--
But let's believe our eyes:
They say it's all here now.

Happy National Poetry Eon!--Robert Gray, contributing editor (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

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