Posts Tagged ‘Marilyn Berkman’

By Sheila Lewis

St. Mark’s Bookshop has been a neighborhood landmark since its opening in 1977, but since the economic downturn in 2008, it has experienced its share of financial ups and downs—a situation greatly exacerbated by their lease with Cooper Union, which will become prohibitively expensive in January 2013.

Bob Contant, husband of WNBA’s Marilyn Berkman, started the store in 1977, with Terry McCoy and three other partners.  The first store was at 13 St. Mark’s Place and ten years later it was relocated to the more spacious 12 St. Mark’s Place. Five years after that, Cooper Union approached them to become commercial tenants in a new dorm building. It was an offer they couldn’t refuse: 20% less on the lease for 15 years.

I was struck by how pragmatic, optimistic, and forward-thinking Bob is in spite of the looming rent increase and the general difficulty experienced by independent bookstores in today’s market. “In January, we will have no choice but to move. For now, we are looking forward to a healthy holiday season,” Bob told me when I spoke with him for this article.

Bob also had some good news for WNBA members who would like to support the bookstore this holiday season:

For members of WNBA, St. Mark’s Bookshop is offering a one-time, 10% discount on books purchased in-store until the end of 2012.

Thank you, Bob, for your generous offer. We trust that St. Mark’s Bookshop will continue to thrive in its new home, and wish you great success in finding the perfect venue for all of us book lovers.

St. Mark’s Bookshop is located at 31 Third Avenue. You can find them online at www.stmarksbookshop. Mention your WNBA membership for the 10% one-time discount. If you haven’t been, make it a must stop and shop before 2013!


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By Fatima Shaik

The owner of KGB Bar, Denis Woychuk, poses with Rhona Whitty, Linda Epstein, and Sonia Kane.

About 50 WNBA-NYC members and friends navigated through narrow East 4th Street, went up two flights of slanted stairs and crowded into the famous KGB Bar to participate in the second annual Open Mic on May 23, 2012 at 7 p.m. The journey was an adventure to the trendy East Village club and, then, to countless locales in members’ 5-minute readings.

Listeners went into the classroom of a Jewish student in racist South Africa, the mind of a young girl meeting her mother’s new lover, and the back seat of a car on a drug-infused trip to a mental hospital. The audience witnessed tender, poetic tributes to an Alzheimer’s parent and to a long-standing, compatible-incompatible couple. Spectators experienced the anger of an abandoned daughter and the wit of a man obsessed with all things big. The diversity of places and genres cannot be described, but some responses can.

Three of the night’s readers: (from left) Deborah Batterman, Marilyn Berkman, and Fatima Shaik

There were gasps when a man smothered a bird and his unsuspecting human victim entered the room, knowing glances when a husband and wife interacted with their unemployed son, laughter when a narrator defined “learning to drink like a lady,” and attentive silence when protagonists arrived in surprisingly new and poignantly all-too-familiar places.

The two-hour expedition moved swiftly thanks to emcee Linda Epstein, and the wayfarers quenched their thirsts for beverages and camaraderie (comrade-ry?) in the KGB Bar’s small, red room displaying the red flag with the gold hammer and sickle.

This post is from guest blogger and WNBA-NYC member, Fatima Shaik. Fatima is the author of four books of fiction for adults and children set in her native New Orleans. She is currently researching her first non-fiction book about the members of a hidden Afro-Creole society in the 19th century. She teaches writing at Saint Peter’s College.  To learn more about Fatima, visit her website at www.fatimashaik.com.

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Join us tomorrow, May 23rd for WNBA-NYC Open Mike Night at KGB Bar!  We’ll be reading from  7:00 – 9:00 PM at KGB Bar, located at 85 East 4th Street, NYC.  The list of readers has been finalized, the authors are prepared, and now they just need an audience!  Look who’s reading:

Even if you’re not reading, come on down for a fun evening! Order a drink from the bar, sit back, and enjoy an evening of original work by your fellow WNBA-ers!

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