February 4, 2003 - Oregon Daily Esmerald: Cameroon RPCV Marietta Bonaventure runs Foolscap Books in Oregon

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Cameroon RPCV Marietta Bonaventure runs Foolscap Books in Oregon

Caption: Cameroon RPCV Marietta Bonaventure's Foolscap Books sells used books along with inexpensive handmade items by local writers and poets.

Read and comment on this story from the Oregon Daily Esmerald on Cameroon RPCV Marietta Bonaventure who runs Foolscap Books in Eugene, Oregon at:

Bookstore sells used, local works*

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Bookstore sells used, local works
Locally owned Foolscap Books sells a variety of used books in Eugene and online, and serves as a hub for the community's poetry scene

Aaron Shakra
Pulse Reporter
February 04, 2003

Independent booksellers are an endangered species. While their corporate brethren thrive comfortably detached from any one community or place, local stores are slowly thinning out. There's nothing new to this story.

However, there are still some strong local haunts -- Smith Family Bookstore and Tsunami Books to name a couple. Foolscap Books, located at 780 Blair Blvd., also functions as an important hub of activity for the community, especially regarding the poetry scene.

"I'm staying here out of spite to corporate businesses," Foolscap Books proprietress Marietta Bonaventure said. She opened the store in 1999, after spending some time with the Peace Corps in Africa. Bonaventure, also a singer in the group Son Mela'o, said opening the place was a natural process for her because she came from a family of booksellers. She collected books for a few years before the doors opened.

Foolscap contains 25,000 books, but doubles as an online bookseller, with an inventory of 10,000 books on its Web site, www.foolscapbooks.com. "Ninety-nine point nine percent of the books are used," Bonaventure said.

Half of Bonaventure's business comes from online sales. She said she sells a lot of poetry, philosophy and occult books, but has "a little bit of everything." The bookstore also accepts trades, and features imports from the countries such as Bali, Nepal, India, Thailand, Morocco and Guatemala.

A wide selection of chapbooks -- inexpensive handmade items by local writers and poets -- sit close to the entrance. In the past, Foolscap has hosted events featuring belly dancing, fire dancing and jazz. In recent months, poetry has become steeped into the place -- five poetry slam rounds have been held. There will be one more slam open to everyone, Feb. 15 at 8 p.m. All participants who sign up between 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. will be allowed to read.

The poetry readings, which began in September, are the first Eugene events affiliated with the National Poetry Slam.

A grant from the Lane Arts Council provided the shop with the necessary budget for national affiliation. A four-person team will be selected from playoff rounds featuring the top 25 poets. This team will compete at the August 2003 competition in Chicago.

A panel of five judges, selected at random from 10 volunteers each night, will rate the poets' work. Sam Rutledge, who has read at previous slams and is also co-host of The Buzz Coffeehouse's open mic poetry night, said that judging is an automatic process for humans.

"To a degree, people are judgmental about everything," Rutledge said.

However, he said the subjectivity of the judgments diminishes their seriousness.

Rutledge noted that the crowd gathering at Foolscap is mostly older or middle-aged folks and "people who aren't in college." Bonaventure, who has been an organizing force for the slams, said she views the events as "poetry for the masses."

"The scene is already here. I wouldn't have done it if there wasn't a niche for it," she said.

Rutledge matched these sentiments.

"This is one of the main venues that underground artists can use to show their stuff," he said.

Regarding poetry's potential for a fusion of "high-art" with "low-art," he quoted a line from the band KRS-One: "It's time for all the scholars to unite with all the players."

Despite some competitive aspects, both Rutledge and Bonaventure indicated the slam environment remains friendly on the whole.

"I've made great friends through poetry," Bonaventure said.

"We're addicted," said Taylor Jane, a Foolscap regular and poet who frequently reads her work at The Buzz open mic night. However, she doesn't read at slams. "I don't know if I have enough competitive stick-to-it-ness," she said. All the slams have been recorded on video and audio thus far. Upon the conclusion of the events, they will be compiled and released through the bookstore. Foolscap's next big poetry event will be an open mic Valentine's Day erotic poetry night. Tango band Mood Area 52 will also perform.

Foolscap is open from 10:30 a.m. until 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Special Interests - Business; Special Interests - Books; COS - Cameroon



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