A Bona Fide success

Story & photos by Lisa Michelle

Stepping into the Bona Fide Books headquarters is like stepping into an eclectic world of creativity. The charming space in Meyers is stocked with a variety of fiction and nonfiction books and works from a range of artists and photographers. Bona Fide Books is an award-winning independent press that provides Tahoe writers and artists with a public space to collaborate or nurture their muses.

Classes & meetings
Activist Art
| March 9 | 7 p.m.
Maker’s Mondays | 6 p.m.
Tahoe Writers Works | Tuesdays | 6:30 p.m.

A recent print workshop at Bona Fide.

“I want to help people make art a priority,” says Kim Wyatt, who started Bona Fide Books in 2009. The decision to start the press came one week after Wyatt lost a close friend. The two had promised each other they would only create art and literature they felt was meaningful. Wyatt had spent 15 years editing books, magazines and Web sites. She also worked as a feature writer, arts reviewer and columnist for online and print publications, including the Anchorage Daily News and Web MD. Wyatt felt the work was important, but didn’t allow the creativity she craved.

As soon as Bona Fide Books opened its doors, people started showing up. That’s when Wyatt realized there was a need for such a place in the community. Besides adding editorial assistance and book consulting to their list of services, Bona Fide Books has hosted dozens of book launches and art receptions. On Halloween, Scary Slams, similar to poetry slams, were held with prize money going to the best performance and literary costume. In South Lake Tahoe, poetry bombs were held, in which hundreds of poems were handed out in one day to encourage communication, hope and empathy.

Bona Fide Books is an award-winning independent press that provides Tahoe writers and artists with a public space to collaborate or nurture their muses.

“There is so much talent in the Tahoe Basin,” says Wyatt, who holds an MFA in creative nonfiction. Supporting talent by helping writers find their readers is something Bona Fide Books aims to accomplish. Publishing poetry, fiction and nonfiction offers readers a variety of options. “Tahoe Blues: Short Lit on Life at the Lake” is a collection of flash fiction and short essays from local authors — a must read for those who love Tahoe. This year, Bona Fide Books published “July & Winter: Growing Food in the Sierra.” Author Gary Romano details his knowledge from decades of experience growing food in Beckwourth, one of the harshest climates in the Sierra Valley. Romano will be presenting his book at the South Lake Tahoe Library on April 8 at 2 p.m.

Kim Wyatt with award-winning St. Louis poet Travis Mossotti. Bona Fide published his collection “Field Study.”

Throughout the past eight years, Bona Fide Books has evolved. The Tahoe Writers Works is a group of writers and poets who meet twice monthly at store. The group is open to anyone interested in writing. They offer valuable feedback on submitted pieces in a supportive atmosphere. The Lake Tahoe Society for Storytelling & Enlightenment was created by Wyatt and local artist Jared Manninen to preserve Lake Tahoe history through storytelling. The pair produced and published the first of four volumes of “Tahoe History Comix” with Wyatt penning stories and Manninen providing artwork. Theses pocket-sized books are sold as a four-pack and include: “Wild Men of Lake Tahoe,” “Trailblazing Women of Lake Tahoe,” “The Angora Fire” and “State Route 28.” Upcoming series will include: “Truckee River,” “Mysteries of the Deep,” “Mythical Creatures Of Lake Tahoe” and “Al Tahoe Cemetery.”

In an effort to support the writing community, Bona Fide Books has offered workshops and classes on screenwriting, travel and how to publish children’s books. These classes will be offered again due to high demand. Upcoming workshops include: “How to Write an Op-Ed for Publication” and “Self-Publishing 101.”

Tahoe Letterpress also calls Bona Fide Books home. Letterpress workshops are lead by printer Steve Robison who teaches participants the art of printing cards, bookmarks or posters on antique presses. The registration is limited. A $50 fee includes materials and open studio hours to work on projects.

Maker’s Mondays are free classes mostly related to book arts and include a correspondence club. The club creates mail art and encourages good old-fashioned letter writing. Participants share ideas, write, draw, collage, stamp, type and sew creations that are eventually mailed.

“We have discovered that in this digital world, people want analog activities and the letterpress and correspondence club also happen to be a ton of fun,” says Wyatt.

When something is bona fide it is made in good faith without fraud or deceit, made with earnest intent, sincere and authentic. I believe Bona Fide Books has certainly lived up to its name. | bonafidebooks.com

Classes & meetings
Activist Art | March 9 | 7 p.m.
Maker’s Mondays | 6 p.m.
Tahoe Writers Works | Tuesdays | 6:30 p.m.