Poet strives to bring books to people with pop-up shop

Poet Jessica Helen Lopez is starting the Luchadora Pop-Up Books. (Courtesy of Jessica Helen Lopez)

Words. Jessica Helen Lopez’s world is full of them.

Whether it’s the ones she weaves together to create a body of work or the ones seen on a page inside a book that help stimulate her imagination, one thing is for sure – words do matter.

The Albuquerque-based poet has made a career of teaching and writing poetry.

She’s making a pivot in 2022 by starting her own business – Luchadora Pop-Up Books.

“I’ve always wanted to own a book store,” Lopez says excitedly. “Books hold all different types of worlds and information.”

Her first event will be at 7 pm Feb. 14 and is called “Lenguaje de Amor.” It will be held at Founders Speakeasy, 622 Central SW.

Michelle Sena of All Chola is curating the show, which will have music by DJ Cloudface. Poets Jasmine Sena Cuffee, Don McIver, Alejandro “Jando” Gonzales and Lopez will also perform. Lopez will also be the event femcee.

The idea for her pop-up bookstore was born out of a bike ride along the city.

She stopped at Bike In Coffee at the Old Town Farm for a Día de los Muertos event.

“It was a beautiful day and there was this book lady there,” she says. “I bought a few titles and a good majority of the books that she was selling were in my own library. We talked about the poetry we had. I love to talk books with people. And to be able to put books in people’s hands. She gave me this homemade business card. I thought about my own journey on the bike ride home.”

After some time snooping around and getting ideas, Luchadora Pop-Up Bookstore was born.

Lopez has planned the event for a few months knowing that the weather wasn’t warm enough.

This gave her time to have a call out to the community for book donations or the opportunity to purchase books to grow her inventory.

“It’s a sustainability issue for sure,” Lopez says. “These books will be rotated. I pick up the books and I sort through them and categorize them. I can see how to store books and think about the rhythm of how often I can do the events.”

Lopez tends to lean toward writers of color.

“I also want books that really uplift people,” she says. “I’ve received tons of children’s books.”

Lopez hopes to partner with the poetry slam circuit in the future.

“My motto is ‘Read a book, fight the power,’ ” she says. “It’s a matter of freeing your mind and you’re able to empower yourself through books.”

As Lopez prepares her first pop-up event, she shares five fun facts about reading and the meaning behind her business’s name:

one “Lucha libre wrestlers are known as wrestlers with origins as masked Mexican heroic folk figures who fight for equality and the liberation of the poor and oppressed. Their costuming is colourful, sequined and bold. Wrestlers are beloved champions of the people and stage elaborate, high-flying, acrobatic and dramatic wrestling matches against one another for the entertainment of all.”

two “One of the most famous female-identified Luchadora is Irma Morales Muñoz (born in 1936). Her career spanned over forty years and she went by the names, Flor Negra, Rosa Blanca, La Tirana, La Dama del Enfermero, La Enfermera and La Novia del Santo.”

3 “Luchadora Used Pop-Up Books is named as a tribute to the courageous wrestlers both past and present across the Mexico and US borderlands.”

4 “Used books are a sustainable, eco-friendly option for folks who want to purchase affordable reading material. Did you know that Luchadora Used Pop-Up Books will not sell any book for over $5?”

5 “Did you know that reading improves the brain’s memory, reduces stress, fosters empathy towards one another and can help you live a longer life? Read a book. Fight the power.”

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