BOOKS & SHOVELS
Lit & ART ON THE ROAD
"Why bother doing this? Is Jeremiah Walton insane? Is his merry band of individuals equally insane? It is hard to say. But what is more insane is doing the same thing every day, the same thing that deadens the soul, for a paycheck. That is downright foolish and millions of people do it every single weekday of their lives. Due to the world that’s being lived in this is acceptable activity. It does not need to be that way. Like [Books & Shovels] shouts the idea should be to live not to make a living. Art offers an escape from some of these sadder moments in life."
Before Books & Shovels had a vehicle (or name), it was a small set up run out of Jeremiah Walton's frame pack. Fall, 2013, Jeremiah started traveling & making a living selling his chaps (ah, N!'s narcissistic origins). Thru his travels, he gathered publications from poets & publishers bumped into along the way, & began distributing those as well at events / open mics / lil free libraries / & thru busking.
It wasn't until 2014 that Books & Shovels had a vehicle (or any explanation beyond doing). Kicking off from the 2014 NYC Poetry Festival, we've since crossed the continent east/west/north/south enough times to dizzy a compass. All this star stuff to explore ran our odometers up a bill that experience came to collect w/ interest (worth it).
We set up on street corners, at open mics, slams, & festivals, in cafes & galleries, wherever we can, distributing lit thru bartering (showers + food + wine + gas + books, etc) + a "pay-what-you-can" rate. People have sang us songs for a book, others have given wine, gas, books for our shelves, conversation, tobacco, showers, and/or helped us pack up.
We get dirty. Sometimes the books too. We’re living out of our ride when we do this, busking & gas jugging & working odd jobs in-between when the bookstore doesn’t economically suffice for basic needs.
We're not in this for economic gain (the poetry platitude) or notoriety (pends on how many drinks). We travel to promote accessible Passionate Living > Making a Living + promote underground 21st century writers alongside established authors & classics.
To peel the tint of our confessions, we do like the attention.
Books & Shovels kicked off with a very cocky launch after an over zealous IndieGoGo campaign. Walton thought this project could be a game changer. The community response to its founding was overwhelming. We didn't nail our donation goal thru IndieGoGo official, but outside contributors threw us over our goal.
For some giggling reason, people think books & the road combined will change the world. & hey, maybe they can, maybe they have. Everyone does at least a lil bit of that.
But certainly not in the naive "split lightening in two" guise Walton romanticized.
Having since gained asphalt scraped knees / late night moon wide smiles / the mileage of experience, Books & Shovels focuses on an individual level, working to inspire others & ourselves, to find / coax that feeling of being alive & create as many ripples as possible across the country to show what we invest in is a part of something bigger.
Since launching, we've featured @ the 2015/16 Tucson Poetry Festivals + 2014/15/16 NYC Poetry Festivals + 2015 Beast Crawl + 2015/16 LitCrawl San Francisco + 2016 This Lil Lit Fest.
"What do you all distribute?"
We distribute independent publications + underground lit alongside classics + more established writers to promote 21st century lit + art. Our focus is books, but we’ve also distributed CDs / records / graffiti / stickers / paintings / & business cards for locals in whatever community we’re kicking it in. Taking monetary incentive out of the game, + talking one-on-one w/ each person who digs thru our shelves, makes distributing more personable, let's us get a vibe of the places we're passing thru more intimately.
It’s been a dope way to meet artists outside of the lit / arts community. Some of the best writers / poets / rappers / creatives we've met are unpublished & buried under all of these whispers straining to be a scream. These communities are not always the easiest to enter / navigate, so it’s great to show folks some initial doors to knock on if they’re interested.
This is what we do. Christopher Morgan & I, alongside whoever jumps on board with Books & Shovels, work to be an amp for whispers.
We're not 100% sure what we want. We sure as hell know what we don't.
& we're going to keep moving & growing. Make room for mistakes. We're going to fuck up as we go about this. We've already been cuffed in Arkansas, lost vehicles, lugged books via Greyhound, swung in & outta debt, but thru this process, the project has stabilized & continued growing.
We've inspired folks to perform for the first time, hit the road across country, to scrape judgement from their teeth & bite into new experiences. Every couple of months we receive an email from someone, someone who probably romanticized the hell out of us & our project, but this someone will hit us up sharing their first publication, their first show, new poems, new projects they've kicked off, photos from the road, something they attribute to having interacted with Books & Shovels.
The odometer is ticking.
You can follow our whereabouts at the Nostrovia! Tavern, our literary and poetry resource blog, or by liking N! or adding Jeremiah on Facebook. Doing so helps our outreach grow, & gain new opportunities to help us better promote the content on our shelves.
GET ON OUR SHELVES
"I’m donating copies of all my books for this badass van of book goodness. You should think about sending [Books & Shovels] some books!"
We accept donation of classic literature alongside independently + self published chapbooks / zines / collections / anthologies. We do not tolerate hateful literature. If you would like to donate books, please email (w/ "Book Donation" in the subject line) :
[ jeremiahwalton [at] nostroviatowriting [dot] com ]
If you are able/secure to, we accept monetary donations digitally below :