Walrus Publishing, Inc.

Walrus Joins World Book Night

Walrus Joins World Book Night

by Jaime Kelley, Walrus Contributor

Do you love books?

Scratch that.

We know you love books! We do, too. That’s why Walrus is going to be taking part in World Book Night.

On Monday, April 23, tens of thousands of volunteers will share their joy of reading by giving out free paperbacks, reportedly one million books here in the United States, and Walrus will be there to lend a hand.

What is World Book Night?

A celebration that began in the UK in 2011, World Book Night spreads the love of reading by connecting those who have the opportunity to share books with those who don’t readily have the opportunity to access them. This year Ireland, Germany and the United States have joined the cause.

Why April 23?

According to the World Book Night UK Web site, April 23 is “…a symbolic date for world literature. It is both the birth and death day of Shakespeare, as well as the death day of Cervantes, the great Spanish novelist. It is in their honour that UNESCO appointed it the international day of the book and that we choose it to celebrate World Book Night.”

It’s Free?

Yes! This event is made possible through the contributions of many book lovers worldwide. Authors of the 30 selected titles for distribution have foregone royalties, book publishers have printed special paperback versions, while many others in the industry have underwritten the event. And, of course, there is the time and efforts of all the “givers” distributing the books.

How does the distribution process work?

World Book Night invited folks to apply to become givers, asking questions such as: “Which book would you give away? To whom? And why?” I applied on behalf of Walrus and chose Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” to be delivered to three non-profit organizations in St. Louis that provide free services for women in abusive relationships: Woman’s Place, ALIVE, and Safe Connections.

Why Maya Angelou?

Maya Angelou was born in St. Louis, and with our mission at Walrus being “to work with talented St. Louis writers,” the stunning talent of Angelou is a perfect fit. More meaningfully, though  “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” Angelou  recounts her own life story and struggles with abuse, injustice, and oppression. The strength of words, both written and spoken, are revealed as a powerful tool to gain an understanding of the trauma of abuse, a prosaic pathway to rediscovering one’s own self-worth and dignity, and the beauty and freedom to love and be loved.

How can I get involved?

Funny you should ask!  Join me at the ReadMOB! Organized by the St. Louis Independent Bookstore Alliance in honor of World Book Night, it is the equivalent of a flash mob, but no fancy dancing required.

Show up under the Arch at 12:30 p.m. with a book in hand. Mill around the grounds until the “signal,” then follow the crowd to the designated area to sit down and read. The cool part is that arrangement of the “mob” will spell out “READ BOOKS.” This will all be videotaped so don’t miss your five minutes of fame and a chance to take part in a global effort to spread the love of reading.

Check out the Indie Bookstore website for full details and to let them know that you’re joining the fun!

In honor of World Book Night, National Poetry Month and all the women of Woman’s Place, ALIVE, and Safe Connections, we leave you with the words of Maya Angelou:

“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”

The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill for the caged bird
sings of freedom

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

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