In Honor of Indie Bookstore Day

In honor of Independent Bookstore Day this May, I wanted to share some of my favorite bookstores across Pennsylvania and give some reasons for why you should spend some bucks at these places. I’ll also note that according to that Washington Post link I shared, since 2009, indie bookstores have increased nationwide by 25 percent. That is indeed something worth celebrating, especially since so many people declared bookstores would be dead by now, once Borders went out of business in 2009 and Barnes n Noble closed a slew of stores. Maybe the gradual demise of the behemoths led to the increase in indie bookstores. Regardless, indie bookstores provide important community spaces, so their growth is worth nothing.

With that said, here are some of my favorites:

Midtown Scholar Bookstore, Harrisburg PA.  This store sells new and used books as well as some oddities and rarities. Simply put, this shop is HUGE and features thousands and thousands of books. Each genre, including poetry, features walls and walls of shelves. Furthermore, the staff is helpful and friendly and can help you find the book you’re looking for, or order it for you if it’s not in stock.  Next to The Strand, this is the biggest bookstore I’ve ever been to. Furthermore, the Almost Uptown Poetry Cartel runs a wonderful reading series every Thursday, which includes a featured reader and open mic. Check it out!

Farley’s Bookshop, New Hope, PA New Hope is a gorgeous Philadelphia suburb with a lot of colonial history. On its main street is Farley’s. I included this shop on the list because it has one of the largest indie press collections for fiction and poetry that I’ve ever encountered and handwritten notes about each press taped to the bookshelves. This display is front and center of the store.  Also, check out the monthly poetry reading series, which includes a feature and then open reading. Make sure to pet the store cat, too!

Doylestown Bookshop Doylestown, PA Doylestown is another quaint Philly ‘burb. Though the bookshop has reduced its stock in recent years, it can’t be understated how much local authors are welcome to do events, including monthly poetry readings, book signings, and discussion groups.

Sellers Books & Fine Art, Jim Thrope, PA This is one of the finest second-hand bookstores I’ve ever been to, period. Enough said. Oh, and it has a store cat.

This is my list, and I’ll also add Caroll & Caroll’s in Stroudsburg and the Book barn in West Chester. Let’s make sure that we celebrate and shop at the indies as much as possible.

A Little Treasure in Binghamton

More and more, independent bookstores are becoming an endangered species, thanks to Amazon and some other factors. But last night, I had the pleasure of partaking in a reading at a great indie bookstore as part of the launch party for the new issue of Harpur Palate, in which my poem “After Work” appears. RiverRead Books in Binghamton is located at 5 Court Street, right in the downtown, and only minutes from the SUNY Binghamton’s campus, if you’re traveling by car. Each section of the store is fairly expansive, and they have a section dubbed “slightly used books” in which you can find some classic literature and also some more contemporary works for a cheap price.

From what I observed last night, RiverRead Books is also a vital part of the community, hosting several events beyond the Harpur Palate launch party. If you are tri-state area writer, I suggest trying to book a reading there with local writers. Last night, we had around 70 people at the reading, including many college students, but I think the bookstore also worked hard to promote the reading.  If you are in semi-close proximity to Binghamton, I recommend visiting the bookstore and supporting the local business.

You can learn more about RiverRead Books by visiting its website here. To check out Harpur Palate, click here.

Harpur Palate Launch Party

If you’re looking for something to do this weekend, you should celebrate National Poetry Month by checking out the Harpur Palate Launch Party.

Harpur Palate is a journal run through the graduate English program of SUNY Binghamton. Its past issues have included new and established voices, including Sherman Alexie. This event will feature readings by four contributors to the new issue, including  William Cordeiro, Anna Catone, Benjamin Nadler, and I,  as well as the winner of an intern-sponsored writing contest.

Refreshments will be served, including wine, cheese and cracker platters, and desserts including a chocolate fondue fountain. This event will be held at RiverRead Books in downtown Binghamton, on Court Street. It starts at  7 p.m.

Pushing Forward to Summer

I LOVE the time of year when the NBA playoffs start, which is officially today. You’ll find me at home today, watching the Pacers face the Bulls, the Sixers face the Heat, and the Hawks face my favorite team, the Magic. Besides staying glued to my tv to watch playoff basketball, I enjoy this time of year because I know the spring semester is winding down, that I only have a few more papers to grade before I get a little break before I teach a few summer classes. My favorite season is only a mere few weeks away, and the lessened workload allows me to plan adventures, readings, and projects.

So far, I’m working on a poetry course I’ll be teaching at Keystone College second summer session, and my poetry workshop is also going to run at the Vintage Theater again. I’m also scheduling a lot more poetry readings.

Tomorrow, I’ll be reading at the Bowery Poetry Club in NYC with members of the Mulberry Poets and Writers Association. The reading starts at 4 pm, and if you’re in the city, you should come! The venue is located between Bleeker and Houston Streets.

I’ve also booked a few other readings. On Saturday, June 4 at 3 p.m., I’ll be reading at RiverRead books in Binghamton, NY  with fellow Big Table Publishing poet Alexis Czencz Belluzi. After that reading, I have to book it to Allentown to see one of my favorite bands, Against Me!, play the Croc Rock.

On Saturday, June 11 from 4-6 p.m., I’m hosting a reading at Pages and Places at Anthology for ZineFest.   This will include readings by Amye Archer, Charlotte Lewis, Dale Wilsey Jr, Alexis Czencz Belluzi, Rachael Goetzke, and I.

I have some other readings in the works. I believe I’ll also be reading at the Honesdale Arts Festival the weekend of May 21-22, but I have to finalize the details Monday, and I’m also working on putting together a Big Table Publishing showcase/reading at the Vintage Theater on June 24. More details to come soon!

I also want to announce that my poetry chapbook, Front Man, is now for sale on Etsy.com. Check it out here!