Books for Prisoners

Writer’s talk will raise funds for new service

There are several programs around the country that provide donated books to prisoners — Books Through Bars, Pages to Prisoners — but none quite like what Mark Trecka and Laurie Dick are working on in Beacon.

That’s because Trecka, who works at Binnacle Books, and Dick, the founder of Beacon Prison Rides (which helps inmates’ family members get from the Metro-North station to the Fishkill or Downstate correctional facilities and back), envision a system that creates a literary connection between residents and prisoners who also live in and near Beacon.

“People who are getting rides will be able to bring a postcard to their incarcerated loved ones to request a specific title or genre of books, and then Binnacle will stock the book for customers to buy and donate,” explains Kate Ryan, a partner in the bookstore. “We’ll handle all the ordering and shipping.”

The postcards are being designed by Will Brady, a printmaker and designer who runs Par Avion Press. People purchasing a book will also be encouraged to use a postcard to write a note to the prisoner.

Josh MacPhee (Photo provided)

The Beacon Prison Book Project will hold its first fundraiser on Sunday, Nov. 10, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Quinn’s. Josh MacPhee, the author of An Encyclopedia of Political Record Labels, will discuss his book, share some of the music it covers, and answer questions. There will also be performances by Martin Cortney and Jem Violet.

An Encyclopedia of Political Record Labels traces the rise of social movements from the 1950s onward alongside the introduction of the 33 and 45 rpm formats, from folk to punk. Each of the book’s 750 entries includes the label’s logo, its history and other information. Many musical styles are represented.

Trecka, who is one of about 30 volunteers for Beacon Prison Rides, says the encyclopedia represents “a cool intersection of social concerns, politics and the arts. Our program is concerned with some of the same things Josh is concerned with. He’s a stalwart of left activist radical politics.”

Binnacle Books is located at 321 Main St., and Quinn’s is at 330 Main St. Donations will be accepted at the door. Industrial Arts Brewing is also donating beer, with proceeds going to the project.

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