By Maria Pylayev
Local writers collective 1441 organized a successful book swap benefit at Pine Box Rock Shop on Saturday, Nov. 5. The goal of the swap was to collect and donate books to prisoners in collaboration with the Lower East Side-based charity organization Books Through Bars.
1441 was founded in January of this year. The group currently has eight members, all of whom publish and perform regularly. They meet and workshop each other’s work regularly but have been looking for a way to branch out and work with and for their community.
“We, as a collective, talked about doing an event that wasn’t a reading and that was reaching out to the community and was trying to brand our collective as the force behind the literary scene in Bushwick,” says member Eric Nelson.
Eric’s past volunteer work at ABC No Rio, the Books Through Bars headquarters, allowed 1441 to easily coordinate with the organization, but he also says that the collective did not just choose to run with what was easy and accessible.
“We know that what they’re doing is very important on a large scale. It’s benefiting prisoners and promoting literacy among the incarcerated population,” Eric explains. “A lot of the judicial system has been noted through panels and academic sources as largely slanted against the poor.”
Participants were able to choose one book in exchange for every two of their own. Dictionaries, a commonly requested item by prisoners, could be relinquished for one drink ticket. Roughly 100 books were packed away at the end of the night. About 60 paperbacks were shipped to Books Through Bars the following day. The remaining books, all hardcovers, could not be sent because of high shipping costs and were instead donated to the Occupy Wall Street People’s Library.
For future events hosted by 1441, make sure to check the collective’s events page.