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Village Writers Unite!

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What do William Faulkner, Sherwood Anderson and Kahlil Gibran have in common?

William Faulkner, Digital ID TH-11926, New York Public LibrarySherwood Anderson, 1876-, Digital ID 102812, New York Public LibraryLazarus and his Beloved, by K. Gibran, Digital ID TH-28694, New York Public LibraryThe all lived in the Village!

They may be the native sons of Mississippi, Ohio and Lebanon respectively, but for a time each of them called a piece of rarified Manhattan real estate south of 14th and north of Canal Street home.

In this blog I'll visit some of the places where Village writers hung their hats and maybe throw in some comments about their work and their lives (Of course, I'll sprinkle in some library stuff, too).

Also, more importantly, I invite you to comment on Village writers and add your own stories, observations and self promotions if you're a writer living in the Village or who has lived in the Village. Faulkner has made my list of Village writers for having lived here a couple of months before taking a postmaster gig back home in Mississippi, so if you've lived in the Village at all, it counts. You're a Village writer!

It's the desire to live here and having made that desire a reality that counts.

But really, what was Faulkner thinking when he moved here? What would have happened if he had settled in? The obstacles facing a poor family trying to bury the matriarch in Green-Wood Cemetery would be greater than those the Bundren family faced taking Addie to Jefferson. How would he have made that play? For literature's sake, it's probably best that we can only conjecture.

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having lived on Horatio

having lived on Horatio Street from 1977 to 1983 and then in Chelsea to 2000, I have an affinity to life in the Village. Sadly, I have also seen the Village change from a diverse community to probably the most racially stratified as well as expensive neighborhood in NYC. The people on the streets of the Village dont live there anymore, or are part of those who live here for a few years while in school or having 4 roommates. Until recently, I would apartment sit/dog sit on Horatio St but the gentrification of the meat market has created another world in the far west Village. I write my observations on my blog. Of course Michael Cunningham is still on Macdougal Street, as well as others who agree to pay. Arthur Levine could buy buildings but even he has moved to Montclair. The Village as having the second largest chapter of the NAACP, the Puerto Rican bodegas are history. Sadly, all of my neighbors who were CPUSA ex-members have all died. Even into the 2000 years, the Cafe ShaSha existed, but is now another private club. There is great history to the Village and I am happy to always read about those critical years to our social history.

It is always a pleasure to

It is always a pleasure to follow NYPL activities! What a resource! I rarely go though as I teach part time and often use(d) the Columbia University library where I can keep books for a semester if needed. I now usually use the Newark Public Library which is a national treasure! In the early 1980s, I was a community organizer for the NYC City Council and helped create the commercial rent movement. One of our highlights were the organizing meetings in a long time gin mill facing huge rent hikes on Hudson Street. The bar was evicted but then replaced with a number of venues including a high brow bar with a book milieu. The notion of high/low is a NYC staple. In 1978, I was part of an off-off Broadway production "This Room, This Gin, and these Sandwiches". The play, by Edmund Wilson, had its American premiere (it had opened in Czechoslovakia). The setting was in the 1930s Greenwich Village, a walkup tenement. Even Gore Vidal did a play on the title in a NYRB article shortly thereafter. Even into the 1990s many Greenwich Village tenements still had electricity problems and could not handle air conditioning. Until the Dinkins administration imposition of a curfew in NYC parks, I spent many a night with hundreds of others by the old West Street piers where there was a breeze. The most literary description I have of summer outside still remains James Baldwin's "Another Country". Peter Gay, of the NYPL scholars program, is a favorite. I share a letter from him with my students, a number of whom are also immigrants and refugees. Certainly NYC is still a place for refugees (or at least the Bronx). In the past few years, I have had many students who are West African refugees from the child soldier wars. One of my buddies, Sindiwe Magona was one of the RSA ANC students recruited to study outside apartheid South Africa. She writes of her experiences in NYC in "To My Children's Children" (Women's Press). LOL, one of the people featured in her autobiography is now a senior advisor at the Open Society Institute which has re-created academic life in much of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, in recent years. I helped a friend who worked at Thunder's Mouth Press in the mid 1990s. One of the projects was a book by a mistress of Fidel Castro. The author and her daughter then living in NYC. With my friends our rendezvous was the Cafe ShaSha on Hudson Street... sitting outside for hours! I am thankful to the Columbia library in particular as I had time to read Edith Anderson's "Love in Exile". Her book includes life on Horatio Street during WWII. After the war, socialists and leftists were deported and thus her life in the DDR. Tons of memories and thoughts about Village authors.. good luck with the blog!

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