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The Writer’s Block Offers Fresh Take On Reading and Writing

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The walls are covered with books and merchandise handpicked by Drew Cohen, one of the owners and founders of The Writer’s Block. As he walks through the store, Cohen straightens out books, and fiddles with the toys stacked next to Haruki Murakami novels.

Everyone has writer’s block from time to time, but only Las Vegas has The Writer’s Block, its first independent bookstore, that also offers creative writing class for students ages 5 to 18, and self- publishing services for writers.

Cohen and his husband Scott opened the book store and Codex, its writing studio, late November 2014 in partnership with The Downtown Project. It joined forces with UNLV’s Neon Lit shortly after opening.

The Writer’s Block is on 11th and Fremont Street and is open every day.

The Writer’s Block is more than just an independent book store, it’s also a book manufacturer, a publisher, has writer’s workshops and is an artificial bird sanctuary.

Codex is dedicated to educating Las Vegans in writing, production and education classes. It is open to the public and has hosted UNLV’s MFA Neon Lit poetry readings.

The Neon Lit is a gathering that features writers from UNLV’s Masters of Fine Arts program. It reoccurs on the last Friday of every month said Brett Salsbury, Assistant to the Creative Writing Coordinator and key organizer of Neon Lit.

The next reading is their Halloween poetry on Friday, October 30 2015 7 p.m. 8:30 p.m. The doors open at 6 p.m., and costumes are encouraged.

“It’s valuable to be at a local independent bookstore because it connects us to the literary community,” said Salsbury.

“The atmosphere (at Neon Lit readings) is a mix of formal and informal,” Salsbury continued. “Formal that it starts on time, introductions to the writer are made and that it’s quiet during the reading. Informal in that there are conversations between the readings.”

The bookstore funds Codex so that the creative writing classes are free.

“Creative writing is not taught at school,” said Cohen. “More and more schools –some in Nevada- are making cuts to creative writing classes.”

The classes taught at Codex are all project oriented. So students walk away with something they made said Cohen.

“Creative writing is used all the time. In video games someone has to write the story. In film someone writes the script. Plus, people have to write the budgets and the proposals for those things,” said Cohen.

When classes are not taught, Codex are open to adults for book clubs and writer’s critique like Neon Lit.

Scott runs the educational aspects while Cohen runs the books store.

The bookstore is meant to be interactive and the décor shows that says Cohen. There are toys for kids to play with. There’s this steering wheel that’s set up just for that.

We wanted the store to be unique. We wanted to offer things that you can only find at this store in Las Vegas said Cohen.

“In painting- its for your sense you see it, and in music you hear it,” said Cohen.

“But creative writing is the only art form where you get to be insides someone’s head.

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