Monday, July 17, 2017

New Independent Bookstore in D.C.: Duende District



By Angela Maria Spring



Angela Maria Spring and Tara Campbell at Artomatic
 What does it take to create a bookstore by people of color, where everyone is welcome? As Duende District Bookstore enters the final days of its second pop-up venture (at La Mano CafĂ© in Takoma), it’s a perfect time to reflect upon how we got here.

The vision for Duende District first began to take shape after I visited Puerto Rico for the first time since I was 12 years old. As a child of immigrants, sometimes you have to go back to the place where a large piece of your identity was formed before you were even born. That’s what Puerto Rico and Panama are to me. It shook me loose from a lifetime of living a double identity, the feeling of never being solidly formed.

Duende District Pop-up at La Mano Cafe
When you see your people on the streets of your neighborhood each day, but hardly ever in the bookstore you work at, and you go back to a country where everyone looks like you, acts like you and owns all the businesses, coming home to the exact opposite is quite a shock.

I’ve been a bookseller for nearly two and half decades, and it was past time to find the courage to venture out on my own and create an amazing, gorgeous bookstore that will embrace and serve my community, as well as other communities of color, then extend the invitation to everyone.

When I met Tara Campbell, a fellow writer of color, at a book group of local women writers this past February, I was only just beginning to think about what it would take to open this bookstore of my dreams.

Tara is also the literary coordinator for Artomatic, a non-profit organization that hosts a six-week arts and literary festival each year in a building either slotted for demolition or change. I had left my job as the floor manager at Politics & Prose in late 2016 and my original plan had been to have a pop-up venture by the end of 2017.

But when Tara mentioned that Artomatic was looking for a start-up bookstore to work with, well, when opportunity knocks, you take it. I decided to use the experience to put together the pieces of a mobile bookstore and start my first crowdfunding campaign to test the viability of the business idea.

Part of the Children's Book Selection
From the end of February to today, Duende District has gone from a conceptual bookstore “installation” in Artomatic to a mobile pop-up bookstore operation with a fully funded Kickstarter campaign to back its existence. We are already forming strong partnerships with different communities in the DMV and lining up future pop-up opportunities in the coming months, including The Writer’s Center in October 2017.


I couldn’t have done this without such strong support of the D.C. bookstore and writing communities.

For more information and our hours, visit www.duendedistrict.com.

Angela Maria Spring is the founder and owner of Duende District Bookstore. She is originally from Albuquerque, N.M. and holds an M.F.A. from Sarah Lawrence. She has been a buyer and manager in indie bookstores in New Mexico, New York City, and Washington, D.C. Her poetry has appeared in numerous publications, including District Lines, Tar River Poetry, and Revolution House.


Friday, June 30, 2017

Spotlight on Literary Events July 2017



Sunday, July 2 at 8 p.m.
Busboys and Poets 14th & V  
2021 14th St NW Washington, DC, 20009

A Busboys and Poetry event! *SPARKLE* Open Mic Poetry is a queer-friendly and focused reading series that has featured an array of LGBT-dedicated poets.
Hosted by Regie Cabico and Danielle Evennou. *SPARKLE* is held on the 1st Sunday of every month. $5 Cover. On the day of the event, tickets can be purchased online starting at midnight and in the restaurant starting at 10 a.m. at the bookstore store (cash only). No refunds. Ticket purchase limit of 4 per person. Tickets will be sold at the door if available. Guests must have their wristbands (tickets) on upon entering the event.

Monday, July 3 at 1 p.m.
William G. McGowan Theater, Washington, DC
700 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20408

In a July 5, 1852, speech to a group of abolitionists, Frederick Douglass reminded them that for slaves and former slaves, the Declaration of Independence represented the unfulfilled promise of liberty for all. Phil Darius Wallace will give a dramatic reading of excerpts from the speech, followed by a discussion with Nathan Johnson, Supervisory Park Ranger at the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, and History Professor Robert S. Levine, author of The Lives of Frederick Douglass.

Wednesday, July 5 at 7 p.m.
Politics and Prose
5015 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

Starting with Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight and continuing with Cocktail Hour under the Tree of Forgetfulness, Fuller has kept readers riveted with stories of her unconventional family and early years in Africa. With her first novel, the accomplished memoirist draws on the history of her adopted home, the American West, to focus on the lives of two Native American men. Cousins, the pair grows up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, but then their paths diverge. While one rebels against the unjust treatment of Native Americans and ends up in prison, the other lives quietly on the Reservation, teaching his sons Lakota ways. Thirty years later, the two men meet again, with explosive results.

Friday, July 7, at 10:30 a.m.
Boeing Learning Center, Washington, DC
700 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20408

Do you love reading, learning new things, and writing? Do you want to learn more about what it is like to do research and write stories? Join the National Archives and some of your favorite authors and illustrators for a free summer writing festival!

Sunday, July 9 at 2 p.m.
The Writer's Center
4508 Walsh St, Bethesda, Maryland 20815

Dorothy Seyler will read from and discuss The Obelisk and the Englishman: The Pioneering Discoveries of Egyptologist William Bankes, her nonfiction account of the life of William John Bankes, a 19th-century pioneer in the field of Egyptology. Bankes, a gay man, faced persecution during his life, but traveled extensively and made major contributions to the understanding of Egyptian history and early civilization. Seyler will be joined by David Stewart, who reads from The Babe Ruth Deception, his recent mystery novel blending fact and fiction in an era when the national pastime was rocked by scandal.

Tuesday, July 11 at 7 p.m.
Politics and Prose
5015 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

Goodman’s eighth novel is a deft interweaving of different worlds, realities, and quests. At the heart of the book is Nina, a young high school teacher struggling to connect with her students, especially the talented but distracted Aidan. An avid virtual reality game player, Aidan is easily manipulated by the forces of a new game called Arkadia and crosses several lines. Can Nina, the daughter of Arkadia’s founder, bring him back to the ordinary reality of high school? Meanwhile, she falls in love with an artist and introduces him to her father, who hires him to draw for the game. As she did in The Cookbook Collector and Intuition, Goodman vividly conveys the dynamics of specific workplaces and shows how identity is deeply bound up with the work people do.

Tue, July 11 at 7 p.m.
 DC Arts Center,
2438 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009

The author and writer for “The Wire” reads from his new short story collection, Basilio Boullosa Stars in the Fountain of Highlandtown, followed by a Q&A. Presented by Molotov Theatre Group.

Wednesday, July 12 at 6:30 p.m.
Busboys and Poets 14th & V  
2021 14th St NW Washington, DC, 20009

Butler is a law professor at Georgetown University, a legal analyst for CNN and MSNBC, and frequent writer and speaker about issues related to racism and criminal justice. As a former federal prosecutor, he has special insight into these matters, understanding not only how the system works, but also how it can most effectively be challenged. Butler’s bold call-to-action starts with the need to abolish the principle known as The Chokehold, which is the popular assumption that all black men are dangerous, and must therefore be subject to rigorous policing. Butler has radical ideas for changing this and other racial biases, and he also looks at how black communities can use their own strengths to keep their neighborhoods safe rather than bringing in more police. Butler will be in conversation with Kojo Nnamdi.

Tuesday, July 18th 6:30p.m.
Kramerbooks & Afterwords Bookstore
1517 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20036

Americans have a lot to be happy about. Entertainment is always at the tip of our fingers. Companies tempt employees with junk food and video games. We have apps that enable us to order pizza or have our laundry picked up with the tap of a button. In short, our culture is obsessed with the good life. Yet, we’re more dissatisfied than ever. In The Power of Meaning, Emily Esfahani Smith argues that we’ve been chasing the wrong thing. It’s not happiness that makes life worth living—it’s meaning. Drawing on the latest cognitive science research, as well as insights from literature and philosophy, and her own prodigious reporting, Smith shows that by developing a “meaning mind-set,” we can all achieve a deeper satisfaction.

Thursday, July 20 at 7 p.m.
Politics and Prose
5015 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

This timely and important collection of essays by writers including Bryan Stevenson, Sherrilyn Ifill, and Jeremy Travis, examines the role of racism in the country’s criminal justice system and reports on the recent killings of black men and boys by police. Edited by Angela J. Davis, a long-time civil rights activist, advocate for prison inmates, professor of law at American University’s Washington College of Law, and author of Arbitrary Justice, the book discusses issues such as racial profiling, implicit bias, the disproportionate imprisonment of black men, mass incarceration, and the failure of the Supreme Court and other official bodies to reform the system.

Tuesday, July 25 at 6:30 p.m.
Goethe-Institute
1990 K St NW #03, Washington, DC 20006

Broken Glass Park centers on a teenage girl living under extraordinary circumstances—her family migrates to Germany, where a pattern of violence ends with the murder of her mother at the hands of her stepfather. The novel, which follows 17-year-old Sascha Naimann as she defines her independence and relationship with men in this coming-of-age story, questions major aspects of society such as the role of the media and the replication of violence.

Saturday, July 29, 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Kluge Center, 01 floor, TJB - Thomas Jefferson Building
101 Independence Ave SE, Washington, DC 20540

The Asian American Literary Festival is part of a three-day public festival celebrating Asian American poets and fiction writers at the Library of Congress, George Washington University, and various Smithsonian Institution locations.

Sunday, July 30 at 2 p.m.
The Writer's Center
4508 Walsh St, Bethesda, Maryland 20815

Writer’s Center workshop participant David Goodrich reads from A Hole in the Wind: A Climate Scientist’s Bicycle Journey across the United States. The book took shape in workshops at the Center. A submission was published in The Potomac Review, and eventually his manuscript was accepted for publication.  The travel theme for the afternoon will include a reading by novelist and workshop leader Aaron Hamburger, author of Faith for Beginners, a novel in which an American family visits Israel.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Women Writers on the Publishing Journey




By Kathy Ramsperger

In 2002, I was an aspiring novelist, taking a workshop at The Writer’s Center. Today, I’m the published author of The Shores of Our Souls, which then had another title, characters with no names, and a few chapters that didn’t know where they were leading. A love story with a social justice slant, my soon-to-be-published novel (August 2017, Touchpoint Press) is my answer to the discord and frequent tragedy of a world in conflict. 

I couldn’t have done it alone.

Formed by several women I met in classrooms at The Writer’s Center, my critique group has lasted more than a decade. 

“We met every Thursday for about four years, submitting articles and book chapters for critique, forming enduring friendships. We encouraged each other to keep writing and trying to publish,” says Anne McNulty. “With group encouragement, I wrote a book and then began to write for local magazines, where I found my niche. Without my first critique group, I never would have found the courage to begin my writing career. Thanks to these wonderful women, I can now say ‘I'm a writer.’”

At the beginning, all group members were in transition. Donna Anderson was a former flight attendant. Tami Lewis Brown and Alice Covington were attorneys. Cynthia Campbell was starting her own educational and editing business. Anne was teaching. I was writing and marketing for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent. All of us were straddling the divide of home, work, and creativity. Together, we forged a bridge, then a path to diverse, successful lives full of words.

The Writer’s Center resources offered us much more than support. “I took a creative writing class with Howard Norman (National Book Award nominee) at the University of Maryland,” Donna remembers. “My novel-in-progress Residuum got his attention. I asked for advice, and he told me that his class and others at UM were not sufficient for my level of writing. He suggested I go to The Writer's Center. That was quite the compliment for our old stomping grounds.”

Today, we are far flung, but we still meet to celebrate success in life and writing. Tami, with an M.F.A. from Vermont College, is an award winning children's author with a new contract with Disney. Cynthia went on to edit an award-winning nonfiction book that sparked the interest of three publishers, earned her PhD. and now has a career in adult literacy. When I want inspiration, I think of Donna. She was the adhesive in our group—she's a born storyteller, I know Residuum will someday be on my book shelf. 

Anne is a regional magazine journalist. Alice received her M.F.A and publishes her stories nationally and internationally. Her most recent story was published in The Louisville Review.

Me? I’m a creativity coach, publish nonfiction, and am revising my second novel. 

The Writer’s Center workshops, readings, and critique groups led me and my fiction to where we are today. This special critique group stands out for me; I’ve never found that kind of synergy again.

Cynthia sums it up, “Being part of this writing group contributed greatly to my writing and my confidence. I learned a lot from a great group of writers and friends. They are all my heroes.”

If you’d like to hear more about our journey, we’ll be panelists on June 10 at The Writer’s Center. Come with your questions; we’re thrilled to answer them and to support you.