My pursuit of the endless summer can apparently only last so long. Arizona kept me warm at night, but eastward eventually means upward. Santa Fe was calling—despite the oncoming cold of the holiday season. Plus it was worth seeing my breath to also see the inside of the legendary Collected Works bookstore. The raging fire and hearth is only one of the cozy comforts you’ll find among those loaded shelves. I spoke with Dorothea Massey—part-owner and polymath who had her hands full with an event on top of the holiday madness. I was just glad to warm my hands among such handsome pages.
I may have gained a little grit out here, but I’ve spent too much time in the sun to dig on snow. That said, Texas sure sounded nice after digging through all my winter wear. Marfa, TX has had too much ballyhoo to ignore it this time around, and I’ll consider it my good fortune that I decided to drop through for a while. What you hear mostly about is Donald Judd / Chinati / Ballroom Marfa / etc. etc. etc. But I’m here to tell you the first thing you want to know about this tiny spot on the map is Marfa Book Co. Upon entry, I knew it would be hard to leave. Tim Johnson, the inimitable owner for almost a decade, is good good people: he was just as hyped as I was to talk Wave titles new and old, and wouldn’t let me leave without a little token for the road (shown below). He’s helped build an incredible culture surrounding the arts—working with the various foundations in the area to bring in readers and artists, but also creating something all his own that feels genuinely excited about different levels of art & publishing and interested in community building. He’s a true character, invaluable to the goings-on in a place like no other in Texas (or the nation). Oh yeah ..and his bookstore is BREATHTAKING.
The cross-country book mecca, and quest for the highest concentration of great bookstores in Texas, naturally leads one to Austin. I had my hands full here for a while, and it could have gone on even longer. The most obvious beginning point was at BookPeople, where the holiday hullabaloo left me a little dizzy. They’ve got a great, huge staff that’s always abuzz and ready to help when you’re looking (in my case) a little dazed.
I needed to downsize a little, so drove over to what used to be Wave partner bookstore, Domy, on E. Cesar Chavez—now the impressive Farewell Books. A couple Domy employees insisted that the dream not die with the store’s closing last year, and opened a new, diverse space in its place. Farewell is part bookstore, part vintage shop, part curio cabinet, part gallery. Considering the space, they pack a well-curated collection of wares with a lot of devotion to craft of all kinds. Travis Kent and Mikaylah Bowman were both happy to talk Wave, talk shop on the new space and all that goes with being a new collective on the scene of an “up-and-coming” (though more here-and-now these days) arts city.
The last on my Austin list was a new store I’d gotten wind of over the preceding weeks. Malvern Books seemed too good to be true: all small press, tons of poetry, tons of translation, Wave titles on every shelf. I had met up with Alejandro de Acosta, co-translator of Micrograms, to try to peek at the original Microgramas text at the Benson Latin American Collection and to give Malvern a good going over. We happened upon owner Joe Bratcher (or “Dr. Joe”), who formerly ran the Austin-based publisher HOST and who gave us a big Texas grin when he realized whose behalf we were there on. You’ll want to keep an eye on this place, because they’re just getting started and with a collection like theirs they could gain legendary status before you know it.
And now that we’ve all sung “Auld Lang Syne” a few times over, I’ll have to make some hashtag adjustments as I begin to plow through the second leg of our journey into Wave’s Poetry Tour 2014. This tour heading into the future folks! Come fly with me!!