Books & Shovels is a traveling bookstore preparing to descend upon the United States from the 2014 New York City Poetry Festival in July. Operating out of a station wagon, a group of youth artists are traveling across the United States to take poetry and art into the streets, directly to everyday Joes and Janes, in an attempt to promote passionate living over making a living. When the store sets up shop on a street corner, it consists of collapsible bookshelves weighed down with poetry collections, anthologies, street books, novels, graffiti, stickers, paintings, anything that exhibits passion. Primarily a bookstore, the traveling shop distributes all forms of portable art. Around the shop, the team street performs and encourages other artists and poets to get involved directly through rogue open mics and slams hosted in the streets. Authors and writers are invited to read their works aloud, painters to come set up an easel along the stand.
Books & Shovels was not initially a station wagon. It was a frame pack on the back of founder Jeremiah Walton, a 19 year old poet from New Hampshire, U.S.A.. Hitchhiking at the time, Jeremiah operated a small distribution operation, street performing and hitting shows to spread the publications he released through his indie press, Nostrovia! Poetry, and for UndergroundBooks, a New York City publishing house. Books & Shovels had not even been named yet at this point. It was simply a new adventure for the recent high school graduate.
Together, these two publishers are co-operating with hundreds of poets, artists, and presses across the world to gather materials for Books & Shovels, and push poetry and passion into the public’s peripherals.
The Books & Shovels team consists of youth poets Jeremiah Walton and Sam Lennon, and gypsy tarot card reader Captain Thornton. The group is targeting open mics, festivals, and slam poetry competitions, urging those involved with the arts to take their passion into the streets, to be activists, to cease folding themselves in closed circles. Lawrence Ferlinghetti states their mission well in the Populist Manifesto:
Poets, come out of your closets,
Open your windows, open your doors,
You have been holed-up too long
in your closed worlds.”
Though their route is not concrete, they intend to follow the east coast south, and follow the coast out west.
The Road has a habit of pulverizing concrete plans,” Jeremiah says, “We have a general concept, and we go from there.”
When not on the streets screaming poems and operating the shop, the store rests out of front of 24/7 stores for the night, and will spend time camping when possible. If things go well for their operation, Books & Shovels will be stepping over borders into other counties, bringing their distribution to a international level.
To secure the future of Books & Shovels, the team has launched an IndieGoGo crowd fundraiser, asking supporters and those who believe in what they are doing to pledge money to the cause. For those who cannot financially support the cause, they ask for you to use the social media toolbar on the fund raiser’s page beneath the explanation video to help push the project forward.