Book lovers join forces to open pop-up shop in Kew Gardens

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Taking a page from the Kevin Costner film “Field of Dreams,” a group of avid readers recently opened a pop-up bookstore in Kew Gardens to fill this particular retail void in their neighborhood.

They built it and the book lovers came last week.

The pop-up shop was the brainchild of writer and publisher Deborah Emin, who made sure there were plenty of new and interesting works by Queens-based authors and poets to browse through and purchase at the three-hour event, which took place at tutoring business ThinkingCAP on Austin Street.

Emin was busy meeting and greeting her neighbors, while selling books that included her own Sullivan Street Press titles. Afterward she deemed the experiment, which included book and art sales, a success.

“Lots of people were attracted to the first of what I hope will not be the last such event,” she said. “Kew Gardens needs a bookstore and this is a step towards making that happen.”

The next pop-up is already in the works, said Emin, who has heard from artists and authors clamoring to be included in a future event.

“We even got an offer to bring some of it to Delaware Water Gap, Pa., where a restaurant/arts center that follows my company is interested in creating an event combining writers there with some of us,” Emin said. “But this will be an ongoing event in larger spaces.”

Emin hopes a string of successful pop-up book stores will prompt someone to open a full-time brick-and-mortar shop in the neighborhood.

“Kew Gardens has long attracted intelligent artists, musicians, writers and other creative people, who love sharing with the community what they do,” she said.

One such author, Richard Jeffrey Newman from Jackson Heights, participated in the pop-up shop, where he offered his two books, “The Silence of Men,” in which he writes about the impact of feminism on his life as a man, and “The Teller of Tales: Stories from Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh,” which is about the relevance of classical Persian poetry today.

Newman also curates the First Tuesdays reading series, Jackson Heights Poetry Festival’s monthly open mic gathering, held in Elmhurst (at the Terraza Café) and he’s on the board of directors of Newtown Literary Alliance, the first Queens-based literary non-profit.

“There is, in other words, a lot going on here, and the idea of a pop-up bookstore – of Queens’ writers bringing our books directly to the community – is also very exciting,” he said.

Queens native Wendy Angulo, president of Wendy Angulo Productions, said she felt lucky to be a part of the literary pop-up, where she presented books from some of the writers her organization represents.

Since her goal is to support, encourage, and promote poetry and visual arts through collaborative events among both established and emerging artists, she believes “events like this are really important, not only for local artists, but also for the community to have access to new works from these artists and to encourage the importance of literacy.”

The Richmond Hill resident also serves as curator of Canvas of Words, an annual art and poetry festival that showcases the vitality of the arts in Queens.

Forest Hills resident and writer, Robert K. Blechman, said he was also excited to participate in the pop-up bookstore, where he promoted his comic Twitter mystery novel, “Executive Severance” (composed entirely on Twitter) and discussed his Twitter sequel, “The Golden Parachute,” currently in progress at @Twitstery.

Newman agreed with his fellow artists that the borough “needs more community-oriented, independent bookstores,” and said he believes if a pop-up bookstore helps an idea like that catch on, that’s wonderful.

“And if all it does is inspire more pop-up bookstores in different parts of Queens, that too is important,” he said. “Literature, poems, stories, plays, memoirs — all of it creates community — bridges differences — and really does help people grow and live together.”

Updated 5:16 pm, November 21, 2014
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