Remember back in my first BookStalked post when I said I’d be interviewing not just authors, but also various other important/cool folk in the New York lit scene? Without further ado, allow me to introduce Amanda Bullock, the Director of Public Programming at the popular non-profit Housing Works Bookstore Cafe. I’ve always appreciated Housing Works for hosting such a fun variety of events—from panels to concerts to Moth StorySLAMs to Friday night happy hours. And there are also, of course, the great readings—in just the past few weeks, Patti Smith, Ben Marcus and Sara Benincasa have all graced the stage. Amanda has some amazing stories from her time as director (including, yes, public urination), shared after the jump.
- What’s one of the most memorable readings you’ve held at Housing Works and why?
“There’s a few — I’m still on a high from the success and complete amazingness of Monday’s event with Cheryl Strayed — but one of my favorites was the October 2011 ‘back to school’ installment of the CoverSpy/Alikewise event I Like Your Glasses. I love a theme, and we really embraced the theme that time. We had a photo booth with a laser background; a PBJ & PBR special in actual brown bags our cafe; two of my favorite authors, Aryn Kyle and Alison Espach, who read AND organized a short-story contest about school crushes; and a school-themed playlist. Everyone had a great time; we packed the house and raised a bunch of money for Housing Works, and nerds hung out with each other, which is always my goal—to get like-minded people in a room enjoying the things they are like-minded about and hopefully finding something new.”
- Any interesting behind-the-scenes tales from your job?
“One time a guy in the audience peed himself. That was on-the-scenes, but is still the most… alarming thing that has happened. Most of the time I’m touched by how kind and supportive the people we host are.”
- What Housing Words events we should keep an eye out for this spring?
“All of them! April is full of great stuff, including some events for National Poetry Month that I’m really excited about. I’m looking forward to the second edition of Dan Wilbur’s Better Book Club with a real magician, Lev Grossman and Haley Tanner; the fall Better Book Club for Adam Ross’s Mr. Peanut was one of the best discussions I’ve witnessed in the store. We’re going to host an opera in May that combines Mozart’s The Magic Flute with Christopher Isherwood’s The Berlin Stories that will be really interesting and dynamic. We’re also working on some more Safe Space events, our classical music and author pairing series. And we’re hosting some great parties with Bookrageous and Tumblr during BEA week in early June. Clearly I could go on about this for some time—I have accurately described my job as ‘planning awesome nerd parties and babbling about them on the Internet.’”
Portrait by Yvonne Brooks; Photo from HousingWorks.org.