November 14, 2016

Help Matt Johnstone save Bookman/Bookwoman’s poetry section!



Bookman/Bookwoman has two things we all need these days: an Egyptian sarcophagus and a terrific poetry selection.

The sun rises. The hills bloom into a deceptively tranquil dawn. Trumpopocene, Day Six.

I speak only for myself when I say that I’m not ready to write much about it yet, save that it is so far the exact circus we knew to expect, and that the America so many of us know and are weeping for—the America that fights for justice, decency, and the right to prefer not to—is alive and well. We can hear its voice in the streets, and see its mettle in a flash of mobilizing that’s included collaborative thinking, organizing, fundraising, and other acts of responsible politics.

We know that we’re going to need to do big, difficult, sustained things to fight what’s coming. We’re also going to have to do smaller things to keep ourselves and our communities going.

Here’s a small thing we can do right now. In Nashville, Tennessee, Bookman/Bookwoman, a beloved local new and used bookstore, is closing its doors after twenty years. (It will live on, doorlessly, as an online shop, and that’s great, but hardly the same thing.)

Nashville poet Matt Johnstone has an idea for the store, which he calls an “elegantly aged literary star” of the city’s bookselling scene. He wants to buy out their entire poetry section, transport it someplace accessible to the public, and keep it there, where people can read it. He needs to raise $500. Here’s his gofundme page.

It’s a very good time to be donating all you can afford to an organization like Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, the Marshall Project, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, the National Lawyers Guild, or Make the Road by Walking. As a present to yourself, why not push it a little farther and throw a couple samoleans into Johnstone’s effort as well? It’s been a sufficiently emotional week that I’m just going to go full Williams Carlos Williams on this:

Picture 4

Just swap out “men” for the word Williams meant and should have used—“people”—and that’s as important and timely a thought as I’ve heard.



Ian Dreiblatt is the director of digital media at Melville House.