Poets Oak Cliff bookshop offers poetry, non-fiction, kids books, and more. (Courtesy of Poets)
During coronavirus, Poets Oak Cliff is selling their entire inventory online. (Courtesy of Poets)
To foster community, Poets Oak Cliff had a Open Story Night where local artists could send in their performance. (Courtesy of Poets via Insta)
Around mid-January, Bishop Arts visitors may have noticed a couple of old typewriters appear across the street from Lockhart Barbecue. The unassuming storefront the machines fronted: Poets Oak Cliff. The neighborhood bookstore was quietly opened (with little to no online presence) earlier this year by college friends Marco Cavazos, Kelsi Cavazos, and Russell Hargraves, with the goal of bringing their love of books and writing — particularly poetry — to Dallas.
Now that all non-essential businesses are closed in Dallas, the Bishop Arts District shop has ramped up its website and virtual presence to accommodate book lovers and hopefully keep their brand new business running.
“We wanted to combine a writing studio with a good collection,” says Kelsi Cavazos. “A lot of the time, bookshops have a small poetry section, but we wanted to make poetry a central theme.”
As for how COVID-19 has affected their business, Kelsi says it’s difficult that they can’t physically offer the neighborhood shop they dreamed Poets would be. But, what they are doing is putting their entire book inventory online and offering free shipping, as well as a contactless delivery service within a couple miles of the shop (Bishop Arts, Downtown, Deep Ellum, etc.).
Before the coronavirus outbreak, Poets had planned to bring in more local artists’ works. They still plan on doing this once things get back to normal. And in response to not being able to do Open Mic Night, the shop posted to its Instagram encouraging local writers, poets, artists, musicians and more to tag them in their videos and photos so they could be highlighted on the @poetsoakcliff Insta story. “We’re still trying to have community,” Kelsi says.
As far as books in stock, Poets has two sections: Literary and Discourse. You can find fiction and poetry, from bestsellers to new releases in Literary, as well as non-fiction, memoirs, and social theories in Discourse. They also have a kids and young adult section.
Kelsi recommends Three Women by Lisa Taddeo for non-fiction or The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing in fiction. (Note: they’re still working on getting photos up of products.) Poets also changes over more than 20 percent of their in-store titles every week, so there’s always something fresh. I’ve seen titles like Jenny Slate’s Little Weirds to David Foster Wallace’s Oblivion. You can even request that Poets order you any book available in print and they will have it shipped to your doorstep.
There really is something for everyone. And in times like these, why not get lost in a good book?