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"Poets Will Lead the Way" (CityLit Festival, 2015)

Crowds were low, but spirits were high, during the twelfth annual CityLit Festival. Held at Pratt Library on May 2, the celebration of literature which has been dubbed a "can't miss event on the city's cultural scene" (Baltimore) was just about the only cultural event taking place. After a tumultuous week in Baltimore, people converged on City Hall plaza for a rally after indictments were announced the previous day in the police-involved death of Freddie Gray. Others took advantage of a beautiful Saturday after a week of 10pm curfews, and still others decided not to venture into the city due to crowds and altered traffic patterns.

"It may have been the least well-attended festival," said CityLit Project executive director Gregg Wilhelm, "but it may have been the most important one."

Earlier in the day, at a special invocation to start the festival, poet Melvin Brown read native Baltimorean Afaa Michael Weaver's "A Poem for Freddie Gray," which he had posted to Facebook, then Brown read two of his own pieces.  Wilhelm said that he believed that poets, with their knowledge of the nuance and power of language, will lead the way in regard to having thoughtful conversations about social and economic disparities in Baltimore and other urban places in the United States.  He echoed this opinion in USA Today, a reporter for which attended the festival as part of the newspaper's coverage in Baltimore.

USA Today

It was an amazing day!

CityLit Project and its board of directors wish to thank the Enoch Pratt Free Library, The Ivy Bookshop, the tremendous corps of volunteers, and all the lovers of literature who participated and who know that it will take poets to lead us toward better understanding others as well as ourselves. 

The following photos of festival participants were taken by Bill Hughes:

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