What’s colorful, looks like an ice-cream cart, is pedaled slowly from park to park and magically unfolds to display a bounty of books? BiblioTreka, the brainchild of the Read/Write Library, will be hanging out under the trees this summer with Poetry in the Park, in collaboration with the Poetry Center’s Six Points Reading Series. The mobile library will carry Chicago poetry books to events in Garfield Park Conservatory, Humboldt Park and Chinatown, featuring poets Ed Roberson, Daniel Woody, Kathy Fagan, Frank Varela and Aaron Coleman. The audience can enjoy poetry and literature selected to fit the location, for example, books on nature, plants and sustainability at Garfield Park.
Nell Taylor, Read/Write Library executive director, says the BiblioTreka is part of the organization’s hub-and-spoke model, with books going out to find an audience and “expanding people’s perception of what the ‘Chicago voice’ is.” People flock to the carnival-colored cart and browse the books on site. Earlier this year, Zinefest participants enjoyed self-published zines, artists’ books and political material alongside better known work; while at the Old Town Folk and Roots Festival, they looked at Chicago music magazines, advertising, documents and interviews dating back decades. “People recognized things and wanted to tell us their stories,” explains Taylor.
“Riding it is a little scary the first time, but you get used to it pretty quickly. It can’t go very fast both because of the weight and only having three gears, so it helps keep riders in check and makes it very visible when traveling with traffic. People tend to respect (or at least go slower because they’re curious about) a big clunky tricycle. Volunteer Shawn Cabinian and myself have been our main riders lately, but we do regular trainings if new people want to ride it.”
The BiblioTreka doesn’t usually go more than two to three miles, but this year it’s getting more adventurous. “Ping Tom Park for Poetry in the Parks will be our furthest trip yet,” Taylor says. (Toni Nealie)
Toni Nealie is the Literary Editor of Newcity and the author of the essay collection “The Miles Between Me.” A Pushcart Prize nominee, her essays have appeared in Guernica Magazine, Rust Belt: Chicago, The Rumpus, The Offing, Essay Daily, Chicago Quarterly Review, Hobart, Entropy and elsewhere. She worked in magazine journalism, politics and PR in her native New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Singapore and now edits, writes and teaches in Chicago. Find her at toninealie.com and on Twitter @tnealie. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.