(Bethlehem, PA) – The Bethlehem Area Public Library not only stocks the works of authors from around the world, it now publishes its own books from authors right here in the Lehigh Valley.
The initiative, known as BAPL Books, began to take shape over a year ago. “I heard from a local poet who had talked about publishing his books through a self-publishing company,” said BAPL Executive Director Josh Berk. “I thought the price he was being quoted seemed really high and I wondered if we could be of assistance.” That project didn’t pan out but the idea took root with Berk and his colleagues at the library. He discussed the idea with Amy Miller Cohen, who had been collecting the vast writings of her husband Bob, who passed away in 2016 and was a library board member and champion.
Miller Cohen agreed to publish Bob’s work through the library. With the help of a Moravian College intern, the many papers were typed and cataloged and a selection of Bob’s poems was collected in what became Home at My Typewriter: Selected Poems of Bob Cohen. The volume covers the span of Bob’s eventful life with thoughtful poems penned over 60 years.
The second poet publishing with BAPL Books was not hard to find — he works right downstairs from Berk. “Our own Matt Wolf is well known as a poet,” Berk said. “I like to call him the Poet Laureate of Bethlehem.”
Wolf was approached about publishing a book and happily accepted. The volume, titled A Journey, not only contains a selection of his poems, it features his own photography. The poems range from the personal to the spiritual with a strong local flavor, and include what may be the English language’s first ode to the Westgate Mall (“perhaps this Mall is as real as any place in the universe / alive and kicking with its bus stop / and brazen beating hearts yearning to hold onto the marrow / of Bethlehem, PA…”).
“BAPL Books gave me the perfect opportunity to bring my poetry to the public with this debut book,” Wolf said. “I applaud the library for taking this step to publish local authors. It means a lot to writers and their community.”
The books were printed by Allentown’s Working Dog press and bound into high-quality paperbacks. The proceeds from the sale of these books will support the library and, fittingly, help fund construction of the Bob Cohen Room at BAPL. Books are available to purchase online at www.bapl.org/bapl-books or at the front desk of the Main Library (11 W. Church St).
There are also book launches scheduled for both titles in November:
MATT WOLF BOOK LAUNCH
Tuesday, November 13, 2018, 7 PM – 9 PM
Bethlehem House Gallery
459 Main St
Bethlehem, PA 18018
Six rooms of poetry, art, and music. Audiences will walk room-to-room to experience five-minute performances from local poets and musicians, as well as readings from the book by Wolf.
BOB COHEN BOOK LAUNCH
Saturday, November 17, 2-4pm
1 West Broad Street Suite #904
Bethlehem, PA 18018
Refreshments and readings celebrating Bob’s book, life and legacy.
BAPL Books is the publishing arm of the Bethlehem Area Public Library. The mission of BAPL Books is to publish, promote, and celebrate writers from Bethlehem and the surrounding area, as well as titles highlighting the history and culture of the region.