Mac's Backs-Books

Technology has been changing the shape of entertainment on Coventry Road for quite some time. Bars on the street can now show virtually any sporting event from around the world live and in high-definition, while DJs tote laptops filled with hundreds of thousands of songs to make dance floors come alive. For the past thirty years, however, Mac's Backs-Books has held free monthly poetry readings that rely on nothing more than the human voice and creativity. With bookstores closing across the city, the continued success of Mac's Backs and its literary events are a testament to the store's close ties to the Coventry community, which has not entirely turned away from its "hippie" roots.

Jim McSherry and Suzanne DeGaetano opened Mac's Backs-Books above the old Dobama Theatre on Coventry Road in 1982. In 1984 the store moved to a larger spot at 1785 Coventry Road, on the north end of the street. Around this time, the store began holding poetry readings on the second Wednesday of each month. This tradition started when poets Daniel Thompson (the first poet laureate of Cuyahoga County) and Dennis McDonnell approached Macs Backs’ owners after a nearby coffee shop no longer wanted to host. The poetry readings at Mac's Backs have featured both professional authors and amateur poets, and other literary events such as book clubs and author talks are frequently held at the store.

In 1993, Mac's Backs moved to its present location at 1820 Coventry Road, right next to Tommy's, another long-standing Coventry business. The neighborhood actually has two bookstores; the other is Revolution Books, a mainstay at the corner of Coventry and Mayfield Roads since the 1970s. Many of us also remember Delphic Books, which recently gave way to a coffee shop, and Coventry Books, which resided on Coventry from 1972 until the early 1980s. Mac's Backs, however, has no plans to expand, close or move—preferring to remain the small, customer-focused shop that it has been since it opened.



Poetry Readings
Suzanne DeGaetano describes the monthly poetry readings at Mac's Backs. ~ Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
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"A Shopkeeper"
Suzanne DeGaetano explains why she likes the Coventry neighborhood, and discusses why she has no plans to expand her store to another location. ~ Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
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An Ideal Location
Suzanne DeGaetano explains why Mac's Backs ended up opening on Coventry Road. ~ Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
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Coventry Books
Lorence Hyler laments the closing of Coventry Books, a popular bookstore on Coventry Road in the 1970s and early 1980s. ~ Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
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1820 Coventry Rd, Cleveland Heights, OH 44118