LOCATION

The CityLit Stage features writers and musicians from around the region all weekend long.

Sign up for the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts e-newsletter to keep up-to-date on Baltimore Book Festival announcements.

CityLit Stage

Since 2004, CityLit Project (CLP) has worked to build and connect a community of avid readers and writers across Maryland through a wide range of programs, creating opportunities for youth and diverse audiences to embrace the written word. CityLit nurtures the culture of literature, and creates enthusiasm for literary arts to make it as pronounced and celebrated as the performing and visual arts. Two signature events define CLP, the CityLit Stage in partnership with the Baltimore Book Festival each fall, and the day long CityLit Festival each spring, which, once again, won a Best of Baltimore Award for 2017. CityLit Press further extends CLP's mission by connecting writers with readers, and by providing a venue for writers who might otherwise be overlooked by larger publishers due to the subject matter or regional focus of their projects. CityLit Project makes every effort to grow a larger, more informed and cohesive literary community. CityLit Project thanks our sponsor Insight180 Brand Consulting & Design, “where creative and strategic come together” - a woman-owned graphic design company in Ellicott City that withstood the storm of 2016 - for shining their light on us.

Stage: Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, In front of the Maryland Science Center, 601 Light Street, Baltimore, MD 21230



Friday, September 22




12PM

Free Friday Feedback Returns with Editors from Regional Journals and Publishers

Attention, writers! On-the-spot feedback from editors of Barrelhouse, Cherry Castle Publishing, and Little Patuxent Review. Bring 2-3 poems or 4-5 pages of prose (fiction or nonfiction) and get suggestions on what to do next.

Barrelhouse bridges the gap between serious art and pop culture. It’s produced by writers for readers who are looking for quality writing with an edge and a sense of humor. Founding Fiction Editor Joe Killiany, who teaches writing at George Mason University.

Cherry Castle Publishing is a press that honors the vibrant multicultural voice of American literature, and whose commitment is to practice literary equality and to embrace work that is informed by the social, political and cultural vigor of our times. Founder & Managing Editor Truth Thomas is a singer, songwriter and poet whose collections include Party of Black, A Day of Presence and Speak Water.

Little Patuxent Review reflects and draws upon the creativity and diversity of the Mid-Atlantic region and beyond by promoting the literary and visual arts in print and throughout the region’s community and educational venues. Fiction Editor Lisa Lynn Biggar is currently working on a short story collection set on the eastern shore of Maryland. Her short fiction has appeared in numerous literary journals and forthcoming in The Delmarva Review. Deputy Editor Ann Bracken is the author of two collections of poetry, No Barking in the Hallways: Poems from the Classroom and The Altar of Innocence.

Event Details

5PM

Black Existentialism Lends to Dystopian Afrofuturism

With so much emphasis on the Black body - police brutality, dense photographical explorations of the inner city, stories of reformed criminals, death and loss within plot lines of Empire inundating American culture, the exploration of Black consciousness, and the navigation of the Black perception of life has been nearly nonexistent in media. Authors Olu Butterfly, Jordannah Elizabeth, Jason Harris, and Kaila Philo speak about Black consciousness and existentialism in writing, and how it lends itself to dystopian stories and plot lines in Afrofuturism.

Event Details

6PM

A Touch of Literati

CityLit Press celebrates the launch of author Rafael Alvarez’s new collection of fiction, Basilio Boullosa Stars in the Fountain of Highlandtown. The book commemorates the 20th anniversary of Alvarez's fiction debut, The Fountain of Highlandtown, which was also published by CityLit Press’s Gregg Wilhelm. The celebration includes 2017 Gordon Parks Foundation Fellow Devin Allen, founder of Through Their Eyes, a youth photography educational program, who will speak about the Time magazine photo that changed the trajectory of his career, and work and life after A Beautiful Ghetto. 2017 Guggenheim Fellow Deborah Rudacille is a science writer who tells stories about the ways in which science influences culture and culture informs science, the links between science and social justice movements, and the ways that science fuels cultural transformation. Her current project, funded by the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, is titled "The Family Disease: Alcoholism, Addiction and Inheritance." CityLit introduces singer, songwriter, guitarist Jahiti of Brown FISH to its stage. This session is moderated by WYPR’s Aaron Henkin.

Event Details



Saturday, September 23




2PM

Awakening the Literary Warrior: Expressing Your Truth, Embracing Your Power, Empowering Your Dream

Writing gives access to the discovery of personal truths and one’s most authentic voice. This talk will lead audiences on a journey of self-discovery that will help them to connect with their trial-to-triumph story, explore the concepts of truth, power, and authenticity, identify personal blocks to authentic self-expression, and discuss the process of writing for self-discovery and empowerment. Lane Cobb, MS, CPC, a Certified Life and Business Coach and author of Heal Your Power Heal Your Life: Essential Healing Practices for Women on the Rise.

Event Details

3PM

A Celebration of Asian-American Authors

Readings and discussions with authors: Eugenia Kim, whose novel, The Calligrapher’s Daughter, won the 2009 Borders Original Voices Award. Her new work, The Kinship of Secrets follows two sisters, one raised in the US, the other in Korea, and the family that bound them together even as the Korean War kept them apart. In raw, poignant alternating first-person narratives, interspersed with e-mails, gay chat-room exchanges, and other fragments of a youth laid bare in the age of social media, James Han Mattson’s debut novel, The Lost Prayers of Ricky Graves unravels the mystery of a life in all its glory. Jung Yun’s debut novel, Shelter, explores the lives of people who will never forget the violence they suffered. It offers an honest, complex look at the human capacity to hope, change, and heal. Shelter was a finalist for the Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Award.

Event Details

4PM

A Novel Affair

Novelists read and discuss their new work: Tracy Chiles McGhee, author of Melting the Blues, set in Arkansas in 1957, where the complexities of identity, yearnings for love and acceptance, and racial tension are all unmasked. McGhee received the 2017 Independent Publisher Book Awards. Donna Hemans, author of River Woman, an unforgettable novel about promises kept and promises broken, exploring the unyielding bonds joining mother and child. She won the 2015 Lignum Vitae Una Marson Award for Adult Literature for her manuscript, Tea by the Sea. From Brooklyn to the island of Jamaica, Hemans’ second novel traces a mother’s seventeen-year search for the daughter taken from her at birth. Leslie Pietrzyk is the author of Pears on a Willow Tree and A Year and a Day. Her collection of short stories, This Angel on My Chest, won the 2015 Drue Heinz Literature Prize. Reversing the River, a historical novel, is being serialized on the literary app Great Jones Street in 2017. Her new work, Silver Girl, forthcoming from Unnamed Press in 2018, is set in the early 80s, against the backdrop of a city terrorized by the Tylenol Killer, a local psychopath rumored to be stuffing cyanide into drugstore meds. Silver Girl is a deftly psychological account of the nuances of sisterhood. Contrasting obsession and longing, need versus desire, Leslie Pietrzyk delves into the ways class and trauma are often enmeshed to dictate one’s sense of self, and how a single relationship can sometimes lead to redemption.

Event Details

5PM

CityLit partners with JHU to feature novelist Cynthia Bond (Ruby & Wishbone) in Conversation with Joyell Arvella

Cynthia Bond is a New York Times Best-Selling Author. Her novel Ruby was chosen to be an Oprah Book Club 2.0 selection in 2014. It was also a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, and an Indie Next Pick. She recently completed a screenplay with Harpo Productions for Ruby, the epic, unforgettable story of a man determined to protect the woman he loves from the town desperate to destroy her—this beautiful and devastating debut heralded the arrival of a major new voice in fiction. The second, forthcoming book in the Ruby trilogy is tentatively titled Wishbone, from which Bond will provide a debut reading on the CItyLit Stage. A PEN Rosenthal Fellow, Bond founded the Blackbird Writing Collective and has taught writing to at-risk and homeless youth for over fifteen years, and is on staff at Paradigm Malibu Adolescent Treatment Center. Joyell Arvella’s love affair with activism, language, and literature motivated her to earn an undergraduate degree in Black Studies from Washington College and a law degree in international human rights from New England Law Boston.

Event Details

6:30PM

Christen B Music: Clarity

Christen B seamlessly blends electronic and acoustic instruments with transcendent vocals leaving listeners in a state of euphoria. This Baltimore native is changing the way people experience music. Watch as she masterfully layers unique sounds while looping them on the spot, and leaving the crowd mesmerized. Her sound is similar to Corinne Bailey Rae, Erykah Badu, Fatai, H.E.R, Olah Bliss. Her albums include Begins at the End and Clarity.

Event Details



Sunday, September 24




11AM- 7PM

100 Thousand Poets for Change

CityLit Stage joins 100 Thousand Poets for Change in a Global Event in an expression of peace, justice and sustainability. The day highlights artists of poetry, intention, song and words. Over 400 events in 100 countries are scheduled in a global effort on September 30th to include poets, writers and artists organizing events to promote environmental, social, and political change. They will create, perform, educate and demonstrate, in their individual communities, and decide their own specific area of focus for change within the overall framework of peace and sustainability, which co-founder Michael Rothenberg stated, “…is a major concern worldwide and the guiding principle for this global event.”

Event Details

12PM

A Revolutionary Summer: In Our Words

A Revolutionary Summer (ARS) is an intensive critical reading and writing program dedicated to shifting harmful narratives about Black women and girls through both the meaningful study and creation of art and the deliberate application of self-inquiry. For eight Sundays each summer, daughters ages 15 and older gather to discuss works like The Bluest Eye, and Their Eyes Were Watching God. Founder and director Andria Nacina Cole talks with daughters and coordinators to discuss the impact of Black women's art on Black women's inner and outer worlds, and how the program helps them reach beyond race, gender, and story to discover (and live) lives that have not been prescribed for them. The daughters will present excerpts from Ntozake Shange’s “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf”.

Event Details

1PM

Featured Poet: Samantha Thornhill

Samantha Thornhill is a Trinidadian-born poet, writer, performer and educator. She has performed her work globally, and has published in dozens of journals and anthologies. She taught poetry to actors at The Juilliard School in New York City, and co-founded the grassroots collective, Poetry In Unexpected Places, which was profiled in The New York Times for its surprise pop up poetry showcases in public spaces. She just finished a residency at the Furious Flower Poetry Center. Her third children’s book, A Card For My Father, is forthcoming.

Event Details

1:30PM

Poets Take: Rienne Scott, Nina Lyrispect Ball & Charles Xavier

Rienne Scott is a Baltimore City high school teacher, poet, mentor, and advocate for all LGBTQ+ people of color. She is the 2015 DC Black Pride Slam Champion, and created "OUTspoken" - an LGBTQ+ open mic and networking party. Nina "Lyrispect" Ball is a lyricist, co-founder and executive producer of the Harvest Open Mic in Philadelphia, and author of The PreCursor, the first of seven installments of Spectrum of a Supernova, a multimedia series of signature work. Charles Xavier is an Atlanta native who is a performance poet, self-care and mental health wellness advocate, and case manager at the LGBTQIA community center for Baltimore. As a man of trans experience, he feels it’s his responsibility to use his transition to facilitate open conversations.

Event Details

2PM

Poets Speak: Raw Wounds, Wise Blood, Speak Water

Kondwani Fidel, author of Raw Wounds, has been featured in Business Insider and CNN. He is a writer, speaker, and spoken word poet who is a 2016 recipient of the Ford: Men of Courage Award. Robert Earl Price is an author of four books of poetry, including Wise Blood. He has had eleven plays produced here and abroad, and is the recipient of the American Film Institute’s William Wyler Award. Truth Thomas is a singer-songwriter and poet. His work includes Speak Water, winner of the 2013 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in Poetry. He’s the founder of Cherry Castle Publishing, LLC, and his poems have been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Ron Kipling Williams, who uses art, media, performance, and education to break down walls, facilitate open and honest conversations, and build community, and author of Black Freak Mosh Heaven will moderate.

Event Details

3PM

The Spirit of Poetry in Baltimore

A celebration of poets in Baltimore, curated by Shirley Brewer and Joey Reisberg, as a national community poetry project for his term as a 2016 National Student Poet. Poets share their work, as well as the work of the enduring poetic talents of Baltimore greats, Lucille Clifton, Adrienne Rich, Edgar Allan Poe, Ogden Nash, and Frank O'Hara. The session features an Open Mic, showcasing the spirit of upcoming poets. Brewer will read from her new work, Bistro in Another Realm. Reisberg is a senior at the George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology. Mejdulene B. Shomali is a writer, teacher, and researcher, whose work has published in The Feminist Wire, Mizna, and Tinderbox. Jamesha Caldwell is a multifaceted college student, whose work surrounds the plight of her environment, womanhood, and Blackness. A portion of this session includes an Open Mic.

Event Details

4PM

Featured Songstress: This is Lea

Lea Morris has shared the stage with luminaries including Odetta, Mavis Staples, Dar Williams and Anthony Hamilton, LEA performs at a far-ranging array of venues, including arts centers, universities, festivals, and places of worship. Washington Area Music Association recognizes her as one of the region’s best vocalists, songwriters and recording artists. LEA’s latest recording, “Let You In,” is a collection of songs the artist hopes will cultivate greater compassion for femininity. Lea will be joined by an ensemble.

Event Details

5PM

Not Without Black Women Writers: Finding Joy and Humor in Resistance

Black women’s voices have been historically marginalized, generalized, ignored, overlooked, and devalued. Black Ladies Brunch Collective aims to uplift and inspire with their new collection, Not Without Laughter. Cave Canem fellows include: Saida Agostini, a queer Afro-Guyanese poet and social worker, Anya Creightney, a programs specialist at the Poetry & Literature Center in the Library of Congress, Teri Ellen Cross Davis, whose first collection Haint was published in 2016, poet and journalist celeste doaks, author of Cornrows and Cornfields, Tafisha A. Edwards, author of The Bloodlet; and Katy Richey, who hosts the Sunday Kind of Love reading series open mic at Busboys and Poets in Washington D.C.  

Event Details

6PM

Featured Poet: David Mills

David Mills is a writer and actor whose portfolio includes a one person show of the works of Langston Hughes. He has published two books of poetry, his second The Sudden Country. He has performed the works of Dr. King, including “I Have a Dream,” and “Promised Land” and has used excerpts from "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" to get participants to write epistolary poems. He is the subject of a recent documentary "Freak the Language". 

Event Details

6:45PM- 7PM

Featured Musician: Jahiti of Brown FISH

Jahiti is a singer/songwriter based in Baltimore, MD. Jahiti has performed as part of Baltimore’s legendary group, Brown FISH, and as a solo artist throughout the US, Canada and Jamaica for the past 15 years. Bringing his own brand of roots, reggae and soul, Jahiti continues to build his solo legacy while remaining close to the spirit of the Brown FISH name.

Event Details



View Full Bookfest Schedule


Donate

When:
Sept 22-24, 2017
Fri - Sun: 11am - 7pm
Where:
Baltimore Inner Harbor

Thank You, Sponsors!