Bookshop Interview

A Bookshop Interview with Brice Maiurro

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The holiday season is a busy one, but poet and editor Brice Maiurro took a few minutes out of his day to tell me about his favorite bookshop, and it sounds like an amazing place. Take a look!

Favorite Bookshop: Mutiny Information Cafe (Denver, CO)

1. How did you discover the shop?

I discovered Mutiny Information Café in what I imagine is the way that most people discover Mutiny Information Café. I was walking down South Broadway with some friends one night and we passed by Mutiny and through their big open glass windows I could see crowds of people crammed up against counters and at tables and mixed in with their records all watching a comedian perform. It was magic, of course, to feel a heartbeat like that. South Broadway is magic in general. I’ve seen so many incredible bands and events all over that long mile, but there amongst the bars on what I’m sure was a Tuesday night or something were people creating space for art. I wandered in and found what space I could amidst the huddled masses and listened to some comedian. I could be wrong on this, but I think it was Jordan Dahl too. I don’t know if this is just a Denver thing or a comedian at large thing but damn, Denver comedians are some of the most self-deprecating, nihilistic humans I’ve ever met. They’re also very funny.

2. What part of the shop is your favorite? Give us a walkthrough of what it's like to browse around at Mutiny.

Mutiny is a living, breathing thing. It’s constantly evolving. I’ve seen performances go from the front windows for passerby’s to see, now tucked intimately in the back surrounded by books, biographies and vintage copies. The pinball machines this week have their own aisle. The record collection is encroaching on the book section and the comic book section is encroaching on the records. They have this beautiful golden display case upfront which clearly must have harvested fancy chocolates or something similar at some point and it’s now filled with any Little Debbie or Hostess snack you might crave on a weeknight bender down South Broadway.

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I’d have to say my favorite part of Mutiny is the back. I will never forget the feeling of wandering into Mutiny to a seemingly low-key scene and sneaking to the back space to find anything from an anarchist puppet show to an ambient light event to a fashion runway to an open night magic night. I’ve seen cyphers in the back of Mutiny, I’ve seen some of Denver’s most prolific punk bands in the back of Mutiny. I’ve kissed women in the back of Mutiny. I’ve seen some of the people I’m closest to strip down to their underwear, covered in the hateful words that people have thrown at them in the back of Mutiny. So yeah, I think the back, surrounded by all those biographies of people who time may or may not forget. That’s gotta be my favorite part of Mutiny.

There’s also outside of Mutiny, a dozen of the same dregs smoking weed no matter if it’s 75 and sunny or -10 and dead cold.

3. What books have you bought there in the past?

I think the two most memorable books I’ve bought at Mutiny are “Coyotes” by Ken Arkind and “Retrospect/ed”, an audio poetry collection by Charly Fasano. Those two dudes are always in the spirit of anything I do in Denver. Seeing the names of people I saw around the city on a shelf in a bookstore is what made me myself realize two things. One, that I could do it. That I could someday get my book out onto the shelves at Mutiny, and two, that being on a bestseller list or getting a book deal with Simon & Schuster could be really gratifying, but I realized there was so much talent just lurking up and down the streets of Denver, and I’ve been so blessed to witness all of it.

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4. What is it about Mutiny that makes you love it? What really sets it apart?

I asked Jim Norris, who owns Mutiny Information Café along with his business partner Matt Mega C one night how he came to own Mutiny and he told me how he came up through Denver’s music venues and at some point, he wanted to step out of the craziness of those venues and bring that same energy into a book shop. Mutiny has some great books. Early editions of Vonnegut novels, Hemingway novels, Kerouac novels. To call Mutiny a book store alone would be limiting. Mutiny is a safe haven for art that is done for the passion, something that Denver believes strongly in. Denver is notorious for having free events. Even so many live music shows I know are $5 suggested donation.

Mutiny Information Café has been a space that has helped me to find some grounding. I’ve hosted open mics there, Matt Clifford and I decided to start Punketry there. If I really like someone, I take them to Mutiny. I had my book release party at Mutiny. I’ve been in Mutiny on a Sunday morning and was lucky enough to have the opportunity to read Dr. Seuss to a room full of kids. I’ve been in Mutiny at the witching hour when the pinball machine plays reverend and I confess my sins to Ghostbusters in multi-ball. Mutiny is this big family of weirdos and the only rules I’ve gathered to be kicked out of that family is being a hateful or violent person.

My friend Squidds, Daniel Madden, told me that the intersection outside of Mutiny is the nexus of Denver, the zero-zero point of the city, and I believe that because I can’t think of a more resetting place. Mutiny is church, and it’s meant a lot to me.

BIO: Brice Maiurro is a poet and writer from Denver, CO. His work has been featured by The Denver Post, Boulder Weekly, Horror Sleaze Trash and Birdy Magazine. He is the Editor-In-Chief of South Broadway Ghost Society. You can find him at @maiurro on Instagram.

A Bookshop Interview with Clifford Brooks

(Photo from the Avid Bookshop website.)

(Photo from the Avid Bookshop website.)

Clifford Brooks is a poet, teacher, and one of the founders of The Southern Collective Experience, an organization that has always been supportive of my own creative projects, and so I wanted to loop Cliff in to my bookshop interview series to pick his brain and see which shop tops his own list of favorites.

Favorite Bookshop: Avid Bookshop (Athens, Georgia)

1. How did you discover the shop?

The launch, and my first reading - ever, of my book, The Draw of Broken Eyes & Whirling Metaphysics.

2. What part of the shop is your favorite? Give us a walkthrough of what it's like to browse around at Avid Bookshop.

The poetry section is my favorite. It is not a sliver of one shelf, but generously represented. The location close to my heart has large windows in front, an open, airy interior, large enough for room to casually browse, but small enough for that total literary experience we bibliophiles need to get our fix.

3. What books have you bought there in the past?

Selected Works of Robert Pinsky, several novels by Pat Conroy, All Over But the Shoutin’ by Rick Bragg, the Collected Work of Rilke, and the Collected Work of Edna St. Vincent Millay.

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4. What is it about Avid Bookshop that makes you love it? What really sets it apart?

The knowledgeable staff, the space they give you, closeness to The Grit, and comprehensive stock. What sets it apart is the business model and philosophy that makes them thrive as an independent bookstore.

For more about Cliff and his work, visit his Facebook page.

A Bookshop Interview with Melinda Wilson

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Melinda Wilson is a poet, essayist, editor, professor, reading host, and all around creative superhero, and she graciously agreed to fill us in on what was once her favorite spot to load up on books!

Favorite Bookshop: Baldface Books (Dover, New Hampshire)

1. How did you discover the shop?

I heard about Baldface during my time as an undergraduate English student at University of New Hampshire. Dover was a stone’s throw away from Durham where the main campus is located, and many students chose to live off-campus in Dover. I was one of those students. Several of my friends with similar literary interests had raved about Baldface, and I eventually visited the shop.

2. What part of the shop was your favorite?

Baldface is…well, was…the storefront recently closed permanently and the bookseller now sells from his rare book collections online only and has a few racks of records at a storefront called Cracked Skulls in Newmarket, New Hampshire. Baldface was a crowded but delightful space with a mishmash of different types of shelving of different colors and sizes. Since it’s no longer open, I can probably say without causing backlash for the store that it was most definitely a liability issue. Any one of those top-heavy shelves could have collapsed on me as I browsed the lower shelves. Nevertheless, this was kind of the best part. The shop had character. I remember holing up in a corner of the poetry section, sitting legs crossed on the carpeted floor, god, that carpet must have been a century old, reading Plath, Lowell, and Berryman. The poetry section was at the back of the store in a somewhat narrow space, and often I would get sidetracked in the excellent vinyl section at the front. I remember my then boyfriend, now husband, having several lengthy and energetic conversations about Dylan with the bookseller…I think his name was Clyde.

3. What books have you bought there in the past?

I’ve bought a number of books there over the years: a couple of Seamus Heaney collections, Gary Snyder’s Turtle Island, some older editions of Anne Sexton’s early work, Louis Simpson’s A Dream of Governors, W.D. Snodgrass’s Heart’s Needle…I can’t remember them all, but grab any worn book off my shelves, and it’s got a decent shot of having been acquired at Baldface.

4. What was it about Baldface that made you really love it? What set it apart?

I was studying with the poet Charles Simic during the years I was a Baldface regular, and I could almost see Simic’s influence on the poetry shelves there. The Elizabeth Bishop collections he would tout in class were all over the stacks. James Tate’s books also feature prominently in my memory. My memories of Baldface are obviously tied up with my nostalgia for a period in my life when I consumed poetry voraciously, definitely more so than I do now, when my entire life was devoted to the study of poetry and my craft. Life has definitely gotten more complicated…or something akin to that… since those days, so thinking of Baldface now, I end up in a headspace of pure joy and enthusiasm for what the world contains. I’m sad that Baldface isn’t a brick and mortar location anymore. It’s sad to think I can’t revisit the physical space from which much of my poetry’s root system grew. I guess Baldface has always felt to me like a space in which I could converse with the past. So many of the books were second-hand with previous readers’ annotations, and even seeing the handwriting of someone who likely read the book I was reading decades and decades ago felt like a kind of communion. Because the books were used, they were often cheap, which also solidified my love of the place. Beyond that, Baldface was a space in which I felt welcome. Every time I walked in, I got the distinct sense that I was the audience for the product, this was my place, I belonged there.


Melinda Wilson is a published poet, critic and essayist. Her work has appeared in journals such as Verse Daily, The Cincinnati Review, The Minnesota Review, Arsenic Lobster, The Agriculture Reader and Coldfront among many other publications. She holds an MFA from The New School and a PhD in English from Florida State University. She is a Founding editor and current Managing Editor of Coldfront. (www.coldfrontmag.com)

Bookshop Interview with Melanie Faith

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Melanie Faith is the author of two new books on the craft of writing, Poetry Power and In a Flash!, and she’s here to tell us a little about her favorite bookshop. But there’s a twist: her favorite bookshop isn’t quite a bookshop at all. Take a look!

Favorite Bookshop: My choice is a bit of a maverick: thrift stores. Specifically, a treasure-trove- filled Goodwill in the Show Me state.

1. How did you discover the shop?

My fantastic fellow-bookworm sister introduced me to her Goodwill book section a few years ago, and it’s become one of our favorite go-tos during my visits. We go at least two or three times in the summer weeks I spend at her house in Missouri.

2. What part of the shop is your favorite? Give us a walkthrough of what it’s like to browse around at Goodwill.

From the plate-glass double doors clear across the open-concept warehouse-type building, the book section calls to me, just past the donated dining sets and a synthesizer from someone’s garage, beyond the racks of clothes arranged by hue, and motley bric-a-brac on shelves. Tucked beside the VHS and DVDs and CDs (and even a few tapes) lined up in neat stacks in a metal bin, there are three jam-packed book shelves against a brightly-painted back wall.

It may not be a particularly elegant set up and it doesn’t have chairs to invite a good long beverage-soaked-paging-through like my beloved-now-gone Borders used to, but elegance and comfiness are beside the point when books are at stake. This place is authentic and a bit of a throwback. The thrill of the search is keen and energizing.

I’ve found novels that were clearly 100% new with pristine, undog-eared pages and remaindered from a popular chain store down the street alongside poetry volumes baring oodles of squiggly red and blue and black pen notes in the hand of a college freshman (or senior or professor—part of the fun, as in Billy Collins’ poem “Marginalia”—is in the imagining). It’s a serendipitous, almost mystical process, and when it comes to book browsing (much like a yogini doing Tree Pose), I can stand for marathon stretches if good books are in the offering. Did I mention I can hold almost my own body weight in book bargains in my arms? No reading weakling here!

3. What books have you bought there in the past?

Everything from poetry to bestselling recent novels to memoirs and classics (lots of college students in my sister’s town donate batches of lit books, whole semesters-worth, at a clip- I can’t decide if that’s wonderful or wonderfully sad) and some children’s books for my darling nieces’ library. Most books are just a dollar a piece, and even rare books are usually, at most, $2 or $3 for gently-used texts. A few times I lucked out and the books I wanted to purchase were on sale for 50 cents each—my stack wobbled in my arms on the way to the register on those days.

During my last week at my sister’s place last summer, the final four books I purchased there were (drumroll, please!): The Paris Wife (about Hadley Hemingway) by Paula McLain (which I’ve devoured and sent off for a writing pal to read next), a dishy old-Hollywood memoir of Ava Gardner (which I’ve also read cover-to-cover and happily sent off for a second writing friend who loves and writes well about old-Hollywood), Kim Edwards’ The Memory Keeper’s Daughter (can’t wait to dig into that one this fall), and an awesome book about the making of one of my favorite movies, The Princess Bride, that I gifted to my sister and plan to read next summer when I visit.

4. What is it about Goodwill that makes you love it? What really sets it apart?

The Goodwill is not many other readers’ first thought when deciding on a new read, and yet thrift stores all across the US contain gems just waiting for readers. Like an antique store or swap meet or yard sale or craft fair, you can’t go in with one book and one author in mind. Instead, the smorgasbord of possibilities await! Why limit oneself? Give yourself at least a good half hour to 45 minutes—you’ll need it.

My other favorite element of the shop is that all of the goods are donated new by chain stores or gently-used from the community, and the money raised goes back to local nonprofit charities to assist people in nearby communities. Everybody gets a good deal from the purchases. While I love a good, long recline on a comfy chair with a book or three in a reading marathon as much as anybody, there’ll be plenty of time for that post-purchases, and I’d love for my fellow readers and writers to consider a stop by your local thrift store for a good perusal. You’ll do your book shelves and your local community some good and return home with quite a few treasures to entertain for endless hours.

Bio: Melanie Faith is a poet, professor, and photographer. She loves the Tiny House movement and collecting twinkly costume-jewelry pins. She wrote a craft book about the flash fiction and nonfiction genres to inspire fellow writers, In a Flash!: Writing & Publishing Dynamic Flash Prose (Vine Leaves Press, April 2018), and Poetry Power (also Vine Leaves Press, Oct. 26, 2018). Her short stories are forthcoming from Red Coyote (fall 2018) and Sunlit Fiction (Nov. 2018), and her poetry will appear in Meniscus Literary Journal in New Zealand and Up North Lit (Oct. 2018). This fall, she is teaching a few writing seminars, including a poetry-thesis-writing class and a class she created that combines two of her passions, called Photography for Writers. See more of her photography, writing, and projects at: https://www.melaniedfaith.com/blog/

Bookshop Interview with Kevin Ridgeway

Photo borrowed from  Elder Zamora's Portraits in Poetry , May, 2018.

Photo borrowed from Elder Zamora's Portraits in Poetry, May, 2018.

Kevin Ridgeway is a California poet with at least six books under his belt, and I’m sure plenty more coming. His latest is a split chapbook with Gabe Ricard called A Ludicrous Split and is well worth your time. Here he tells us a little about his favorite bookshop, one I very much need to visit myself one day. Enjoy!    

Favorite Bookshop: Gatsby Books (5535 E Spring Street, Long Beach, CA)

1. How did you discover the shop?

On November 28th, 2012, I was asked to do a featured reading by a local press at a growing literary hub in Long Beach, CA. It was Gatsby Books. I met Sean Richard Moor, the personable owner and master of ceremonies of every reading. I had finally found an independent book store to get chased out of for hanging around too long.

2. What part of the shop is your favorite?

My favorite part of the shop is the poetry section. It has a wide range of the greats--from local authors to the classics. I'm always browsing that shelf.

3. What books have you bought there in the past?

Hammer and the Hearts of Gods by Fred Voss, Poets and Pleasure Seekers by Gerald Locklin and The Early Death of Men by Clint Margrave are among the titles I've scored at Gatsby's.

4. What is it about Gatsby’s that makes you love it? What really sets it apart?

This place is a place where everybody knows your name. Ruby the Cat meows during readings and Fred Voss, Gerald Locklin and Joan Jobe Smith are regulars and personable yet brilliant scribes. And Sean Richard Moor is the glue that holds it all together. He also even sold my books. Whata guy. The best indie book store around.

Bookshop Interview with Rachel Nix

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Rachel Nix is a poet, reviewer, and editor extraordinaire who deserves a hurricane of praise for putting together what I tell everyone is my favorite poetry anthology, America Is Not The World (available at Amazon!), and in this interview she takes us on a tour of her favorite bookshop down in Tuscumbia, Alabama. Enjoy!   

Favorite Bookshop: Coldwater Books (101 W 6th St, Tuscumbia, AL)

1. How did you discover the shop?

It’s been at least a decade ago, but I believe a friend first took me there. Coldwater Books is in a historic area of Tuscumbia, Alabama, where I imagine folks discover the bookstore by both purpose and accident, but always with as much affectionate as I first did. For those unfamiliar, it’s near the Helen Keller Public Library, which was the first public library in all of Alabama, and of course the Keller birthplace. Spring Park, one of the most beautiful parks in the Shoals, is also nearby – making this tiny little community a perfect place to easily pass an afternoon.

2. What part of the shop is your favorite? Give us a walkthrough of what it's like to browse around at Coldwater Books.

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There’s so much to love about this bookstore, but my favorite thing is the way local writers are featured so thoughtfully. There are various spots within the store to happen upon works by area writers: typically in the front of the store; almost always mid-store on a table with books spread out all over and a chair pulled up next to it for intimate gandering; mingled in where applicable; and then upstairs where artists’ works, such as paintings, postcards, soaps, and other handmade crafts are lined along the shelves near books by locals broken up by genre.

The walkthrough has to start with a coffee – you can order just about any variation of brew imaginable and often enough, the shop has a special drink made up for current events. (I had a frozen Butterbeer this past weekend with a nod to Harry Potter.) Coffee in hand, I then tend to loafer from room to room, seeing what’s new or what’s recommended by its shelfmates – the organization there is neat and dependable but also has a way of recommending books we might not otherwise notice and could fall in love with. If my nephew is with me, we spend a lot of time in the back room; this section of the store offers a long stretch of children’s books and toys all located in a play area, which includes a reading cave.

3. What books have you bought there in the past?

I usually buy poetry books at bookstores and I do this at Coldwater, too – specifically local works, but this is also one of the few places where I branch out the most. I’ve bought several books on local myths and history covering everything from the musical richness of the area to hauntings dating back to the Civil War era.

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4. What is it about Coldwater Books that makes you love it? What really sets it apart?

Coldwater Books is a place for community and local pride, nurtured with an old-fashioned approach to business and with a progressive reach in blending what readers are offered. It’s a quiet place to escape to, an energetic and celebratory meeting place for local events, and the single best place to witness what’s being offered by people of the area and those outside of our little corner of the map.

Bio: Rachel Nix is an editor for cahoodaloodaling, Hobo Camp Review and Screen Door Review. Her own work has recently appeared in Anti-Heroin Chic, L'Éphémère Review, Occulum, and Rogue Agent. She resides in Northwest Alabama, where pine trees outnumber people rather nicely, and can be followed at @rachelnix_poet on Twitter.

Bookshop Interview with Ryan Quinn Flanagan

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Ryan Quinn Flanagan is the author of a new book called Return to Vegas Poems, and he took a few moments to tell us about his favorite bookshop, one that is no longer.

Batta Bookshop (Batta Used Books), Ontario, Canada

1. How did you discover this shop?

I had just moved to a new neighbourhood in Toronto, ON Canada and was searching out used bookshops in the area and the one closest to my apartment ended up being the best by far. I lived a two minute walk from Batta and spent so much time in there! Not just going rack to rack and soaking up that musty magical smell of all the old books, but also talking books with the old timer who owned the shop.

2. What part of Batta was your favorite? Give us a walkthrough of what it was like to browse around.

My favourite part of the shop was in back. All the more popular stuff was up front and in the window, but the closer you got to the back the more treasures you could find. The far wall had more new releases and a non-fiction section while the middle of the shop was various turning racks four to five books deep with just about anything you can imagine. That’s what I loved about it. There was no order to it. Everything was random. You had to go searching so that when you found something it really felt like a treasure. There was a large brown floor to ceiling bookshelf behind the racks which was a large philosophy section separating the front of the store from the stock in back. More rare and valuable titles were kept in back as well behind a simple black curtain and were brought out if you inquired. The cash register was on the right wall in a small corner by the front door where the old timer’s wife watched her soaps on a small fourteen inch portable black and white television. She would ring things through and make change barely ever looking up from her soaps. She ran the register and her husband ran the books and all the years I went there I never once saw or heard them speak to each other. But he said they had been married over fifty years or something crazy like that. They loved books and surrounded themselves with them, it was great!

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3. What books did you buy there?

Ha, where to start. My Understanding Media by Marshall McLuhan and his student Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death, along with a good part of my philosophy collection: Rousseau, Foucault, Mill, Descartes, Plato, Locke, Camus, Hume, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Schopenhauer, Bertrand Russell, Heidegger, Sartre, Kant, Voltaire, Marx, Spinoza, Hobbes etc.

Also a large part of my modernist stuff as well: Joyce, Forster, Baudelaire, Woolf, Conrad, Beckett, Rimbaud, Mansfield, Kafka, Pound, Cummings, Proust…you name it. Plus some of my Leonard Cohen books as well as some of Irving Layton’s and Al Purdy’s and some Canadian Poetry Collected volumes as well. You could get anything there and I did: books on art, books about the Bolshevik Revolution, military history, Woodward and Bernstein stuff, Chomsky, books on Native American folklore, economic theory, Basho haiku, John Knowles’ A Separate Peace (one of my favourites), all sorts of poetry, Irish history stuff…just a trove of stuff to go through and pickup and the prices were always insanely cheap.

4. What was it about Batta that made you love it?

I loved that it was a real mom and pop place run by an old couple who lived upstairs and who just loved books – that simple. A little hole in the wall that you could walk past on the street and miss if you weren’t looking. But the best thing about Batta Books that separates it from any other bookstore I have ever been to was the stocks in the back. And by stocks, I mean random piles of books stacked uneasily everywhere, and how the old timer couldn’t remember your name from five minutes ago even though you told him twice, but suggest some obscure book you hadn’t been able to find anywhere and he would walk over to one of the stacks and pull it out or be able to tell you right off that he didn’t have it. I watched this old man in his 70s do this so many times. He had a running catalog of every book in there and what pile it was in, truly remarkable to see. And if by some miracle they didn’t have what you were looking for he would order it for the next time you were in. That old timer was a magic man to me. The store is closed down now I hear. Both he and his wife have most likely passed on. And I haven’t lived in that city now for over a decade. But when I lived in Toronto that was the place for me. The books still have the smell of that little old shop along the Queensway whenever I open them.

Bio: Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his wife and many bears that rifle through his garbage.  His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: Evergreen Review, The New York Quarterly, Nerve Cowboy, Ariel Chart, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review. Visit: http://ryanquinnflanagan.yolasite.com/

Bookshop Interview with Iris Appelquist

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Iris Appelquist is the author of such books as A Banner Year and Nice Feelings, and Iris took a few moments to talk about the complex relationships we sometimes have with bookstores in our community.   

Prospero's Books (1800 W 39th St, Kansas City, MO)

1. How did you discover the shop?

About 17 years ago I was 18 and attending a poetry reading by accident. My friend Emily and I on a seat-of-our-pants excursion from our ‘burbs 10 minutes away. I probably recited an Ani DiFranco spoken word piece. That initiated many relationships that helped fuel my earliest serious attempts at poetry, though I had been writing since childhood. It hadn’t yet occurred to me that there were people who made their lives around whatever or everything they wanted to do.

2. What part of the shop is your favorite? Give us a walkthrough of what it's like to browse around at Prospero’s?

I don’t really have a favorite part…I can say the thing I least like about it. There are plexiglass panes in the floor, you can see down into the basement level. One of the people then running the store said it was so that one of the owners could look up women’s dresses.

3. What books have you bought there in the past?

About 80% of those pictured came from Prospero’s Books.

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4. What is it about Prospero’s Books that makes you love it? What really sets it apart as a bookshop?

Well. There was another bookstore I wish I could have profiled for you, but it recently closed for business.

I don’t actually love it. I have to say that they have supported me personally and ‘professionally’ (if you can call writing poetry a profession) for a very long time, and without their help I would not have had many of the opportunities to which I’ve been availed and it’s the only bookstore standing to which I’ve made any kind of regular patronage…that being said, it’s increasingly clear to me that their choices and conduct as a business, and as representatives of the writing and reading community of Kansas City don’t align with my values, as I’ve come into my middle 30’s. I have a lot less patience for white boomers who think they’re cute for refusing to acknowledge changing social climes. Where their priorities are reflected in their actions around issues of inclusion and social responsibility (as an arts publisher and venue, and retail business), I find myself at odds with them.

They have been featured on the Colbert Report, and in the New York Times for a stunt concocted by the owners back in the ‘aughts (a staged book burning as a comment on the lack of readers), and they are the largest independent used books store in Kansas City. To say nothing of their history and commitment to literature would be a disservice to all the poets who’ve found venue with them, and to all the readers getting their kicks on the cheap. They enjoy a base of support from the community, regardless of their politics. But, really...I don’t fuck with them. Unfortunately for me, they control four of my titles.

Bio: Appelquist is a Kansas City native and psychology student at University of Missouri Kansas City

Bookshop Interview with Joanna C. Valente

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Joanna C. Valente is the author of Sexting Ghosts, Xenos, and Marys of the Sea, among others, and is the editor of A Shadow Map: An Anthology by Survivors of Sexual Assault. I caught up with Joanna about their favorite bookstore, Quimby's, which I definitely need to visit. Check out Joanna's full bio below for info about their website, books, and more!   

Quimby's Bookstore (536 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, NY)


1. How did you discover the shop? 

I discovered Quimby's, which is a bookstore in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York, last summer when I did a reading with The Operating System. It's a beautifully crafted and curated space full of art and culture and all things strange and unusual. It's a space for anyone who doesn't feel totally "normal," whatever that means. I love it so much. 

2. What part of the shop is your favorite? Give us a walkthrough of what it's like to browse around at Quimby's.

I love the small press section - as well as the zine section, which is quite substantial, especially since it's usually not in many bookstores. There's also a ton of art on the walls, some of which is by local artists, which I also love. Supporting a local community is one of the most important things editors, readers, artists, and writers can do. 

3. What books have you bought there in the past?

Margaret Rhee's "Love, Robot." is a good one!

4. What is it about Quimby's that makes you love it? What really sets it apart as a bookshop? 

It's about building a physical community, which is really different than a lot of bookstores, even indies. I really love the environment and how it embraces a sense of occult and occult interests as well, as well as a DIY punk vibe (there's a wonderful zine section and a really inspiring small press section, along with a great music section). And these are all things I'm really passionate about

Joanna C. Valente is a human who lives in Brooklyn, New York, and is the author of Sirs & Madams (Aldrich Press, 2014), The Gods Are Dead (Deadly Chaps Press, 2015), Xenos (Agape Editions, 2016), and Marys of the Sea (The Operating System, 2017). They are the editor of A Shadow Map: An Anthology by Survivors of Sexual Assault (CCM, 2017). Joanna received a MFA in writing at Sarah Lawrence College, and is also the founder of Yes, Poetry, a managing editor for Luna Luna Magazine and CCM, as well as an instructor at Brooklyn Poets. Some of their writing has appeared in Brooklyn Magazine, Prelude, Apogee, Spork, The Feminist Wire, BUST, and elsewhere. Visit www.joannavalente.com/

Bookshop Interview with Bud Smith

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Bud Smith is the author of Double Bird, Work, F-250, Calm Face, and other books of fiction and poetry, and I caught his ear for a quick moment to ask him some questions about his favorite bookshop. 

BookBook (266 Bleecker Street, NYC) 

1. How did you discover the shop?

Michael Bible told me to go there because we were drinking beer and talking about all those NYRB releases. He said that they had books in like new condition for $6 or so. It's not quite a used bookstore. It's like a major discount for like-new books. 

2. What part of the shop is your favorite? Give us a walkthrough of what it's like to browse at BookBook.

That big stack of NYRB releases is the best. It's right in the front of the store. I went there the other day and bought five of them. Past that are popular fiction titles and beyond that in the back of the shop there is literature. So you can nab Nabokov or whoever for $6.  

3. What other books have you bought there in the past?

A few Eve Babitz. A few by Tove Jansson. Fat City. Lucky Jim. 

4. What is it about BookBook that makes you love it? What really sets it apart?

I just like how good quality the books are and how cheap they are. I like that it's right outside the Christopher Street path stop so I can get there quick from Jersey City. There is a WORD bookstore in my neighborhood in Jersey City but I do not like it very much. BookBook is the shit. Codex is another really great bookstore at the far Far east end of Bleecker.

Bud Smith is the author of Teenager (Tyrant Books, 2018), Double Bird (Maudlin House, 2018), WORK (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2017), Dust Bunny City (Disorder Press, 2017), Calm Face (House of Vlad, 2016), among others. He lives in Jersey City, NJ, and works heavy construction. He blogs in the secret underground blogging ring known as tinyletter, follow him there, oh gawd. Also, he’s on Twitter at @bud_smithFor more about Bud and his books, check out his website, www.budsmithwrites.com.