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CityLit Festival Postponed Due to the Coronavirus Outbreak

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Program Announced for 16th Annual CityLit Festival on April 27th

CityLit Project is proud to present the 16th annual CityLit Festival, Baltimore’s award-winning, day-long festival of literature. The event takes place on Saturday, April 27, 2019, from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm, at the University of Baltimore’s William H. Thumel, Sr. Business Center, in partnership with University of Baltimore’s Klein Family School of Communications. The Business Center is located at 11 W. Mount Royal Avenue. Access to the event, its schedule of over 15 sessions, and the ever-popular Literary Marketplace of vendors is FREE and open to the public. (A special Master Class and editorial critique sessions are also available for those who pay and preregister.) The Ivy Bookshop will sell books throughout the day, and authors will be available for book signings.

Click here to download this year's program.

Click here to download this year's Session Directory.

Download event flyer at bottom of this page.


The keynote speaker at this year’s festival will be Dani Shapiro, bestselling author of Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love about life-changing family secrets kept out of shame or self-protectiveness. Shapiro will be in conversation with Marion Winik, author of Baltimore Book of the Dead, a collection of portraits of the dead, that approaches mourning and memory with intimacy, humor, and an eye for the idiosyncratic.

(These sessions are offered for a $10 fee.)


“Diving into Stage writing: Dialogue and Drama” with novelist/playwright Kia Corthron. (90-minutes) Many prose writers (and some playwrights) feel confident in their narrative skills but intimidated by the use of dialogue. Is it natural? Does it need to be? How does “natural” in real life differ from that in literature? What are the ethical concerns in writing dialect? In a similar vein, writers sometimes avoid the dramatic—building tension—out of fear of committing the “sin” of melodrama. In this workshop, participants will be given exercises to help facilitate their undertaking of expressive speech and action inherent to the characters they’ve created.
Corthron, as a playwright and novelist, has addressed contemporary issues, and most recently co-produced Imagine: Yemen, an evening of short plays addressing the crisis in Yemen and U.S. responsibility for it, including her short musical Charade. Her debut novel The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter was the winner of the 2016 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. Baltimore productions of her plays include Splash Hatch on the E Going Down at Center Stage and Force Continuum at Cohesion Theatre Company. She has written for television shows The Jury and The Wire.

$10. Pre-Registration is required. Click here for details.


Sign up for a one-on-one 30-minute critique session with one of five accomplished authors/editors in poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, memoir and screenwriting, from 10:00 am – 12:00 pm, first come, first served.

Tafisha Edwards  (Poetry)
Karen Houppert    (Creative Nonfiction, Fiction)
Bret McCabe         (Nonfiction, Memoir, Fiction)
Lauren LaRocca   (Creative Nonfiction, Fiction)
Brian Price             (Screenwriting)

$10. Pre-registration required. Click here for more details.


Other literary artists and presenters will provide something of interest for avid readers as well as writers of all levels, featuring poetry, new releases, best practices for journalistic work and the craft of writing, and more...

This year’s Featured Literary Guest Artists are mystery author Angie Kim, who debuts Miracle Creek, a contemporary take on the courtroom drama, drawing on the author’s own life as a Korean immigrant, former trial lawyer, and mother of a real-life “submarine” patient, and Akiba Solomon and Kenrya Rankin, award-winning journalists from Colorlines by Race Forward. They will discuss the highly anticipated work How We Fight White Supremacy: A Field Guide to Black Resistance, a celebration and documentation of the unique and varied ways that Black Americans across the country speak their truths with personal, uncompromising reflections.

The full line-up of sessions includes:

10:00AM - 11:00AM - BC135
History’s Mysteries: Shaping the Past into a Literary Now
How do writers use history to create contemporary literature? What research is required? How do they transform the past into stories, poems, novels and essays for today? What fidelity do they show to the historical record? Eugenia Kim, Shelley Puhak, Richard Slotkin, and Michael Downs represent multiple genres as they explore these questions and more, including history’s ongoing role as a compelling and necessary subject for writers.

10:00AM - 11:00AM - BC205
Truth & Trauma: How We Write Authentic Stories of Pain
Four writers across genres, Kristina Gaddy, Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson, Cija Jefferson, Wallace Lane and Neda Semani, write global and local stories of war, loss, death, illness, abuse, crime, and discuss researching and writing trauma, as well as the effect working with difficult subjects can have on a writer.

10:00AM - 11:00AM - BC207
Possible & Impossible Futures
Jason Harris, Sarah Pinsker, Erin Roberts, and K.M. Szpara explore classic, recent, and upcoming near-future fictions and discuss the responsibilities and challenges of looking forward: utopias, dystopias, apocalypses, and hope.

11:00AM - 12:30PM - BC135
Your Classics Aren’t My Classics: Decolonizing the Literary Canon for Asian Americans
What do Asian-Americans consider classics? How is it that the lack of media representation of Asians and Asian Americans has made it so that only white writers are ever considered canon? Fran Del Rosario, Chris Jesu Lee, Mekita Rivas, Marissa Rodriguez, Eliza Romero and Sharon Tran deconstruct the concept of a must-read as it applies to Asian Americans.

11:00AM - 12:00PM - BC143
You Can’t Live Off Air: Money’s in the Room
An open dialogue with folks who want to give you money and opportunities, for writers who could use it, featuring representatives from the National Endowment for the Arts, Maryland State Arts Council, Robert W. Deutsch Foundation, Maryland Citizens for the Arts, Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance, and Creative Capital and grantee Ashlie Kauffman who shares the promise of receiving a grant. Download this reference PDF: Funder & Advocacy Information Sheet

12:00pm - 1:00pm - Auditorium
AKIBA SOLOMON and KENYRA RANKIN read and examine How We Fight White Supremacy: The Field Guide to Black Resistance with contributor Elissa Blount Moorhead Colorlines’ editorial directors and award-winning journalists present a timely collection, an urgent political text deemed a must-read for anyone new to resistance work, and for the next generation of leaders. 

12:00PM - 1:00PM - BC205
Identity in Artistry: Exploring the Queer Perspective
Writers Jamie Grace Alexander, Mark King, Mejdulene Shomali and Clarence Orsi integrate their identities in a way that provides insight into their lived experiences as members of the LGBTQIA+ community. They have used their artistic medium to share their experiences and explore sexual identity, creating works that showcase an underrepresented perspective.

12:30PM - 2:00PM - BC143
No One Leaves Home Unless Home is the Mouth of a Shark:
The Immigrant’s Journey
Warsan Shire’s poem “Home” shares the truths of many immigrants, migrants, and refugees in relation to leaving home. Why’d they leave? Why can’t they return? Ana Portnoy Brimmer, Daria-Ann Martineau, Girum Seid Mulat, Senait Mulugeta, Lark Omura and Tatiana Figueroa Ramirez, poets originating from different parts of the world, including Ethiopia, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Trinidad & Tobago, share their work and a piece of their story as someone “not from here,” and how their home still speaks in their poetry.

1:00PM - 2:00PM - Auditorium
ANGIE KIM discusses Miracle Creek with Vicky Pinpin-Feinstein
Kim’s debut novel is about an experimental medical treatment device that patients enter for therapeutic “dives” with the hopes of curing issues like autism or infertility. A thriller on how far we’ll go to protect our families and our deepest secrets. 

1:00PM - 2:00PM - BC135
Breaking Down Bars: Stories that Challenge Mass Incarceration
Dr. Tara Betts, Tony Lewis, Jr. and Chris Wilson join voices, share excerpts from their books and discuss the flaws and biases in mass incarceration. These writers discuss how prisons cripple communities of color and poor people, extend the power of policing, and create economic dependence on the corporatized prisons. Their books, and other writings expose the inefficacies of the prison system, challenge the perspectives people have about mass incarceration, and offer a bit of hope.

1:30PM - 2:30PM - BC207
The Art of Telling Lies Skillfully:
Writing Tips from an Award-winning Screenwriter
Brian Price demonstrates, through memorable clips and helpful diagrams, the essential elements that all successful movies share. He’s written for major studios like Universal, Warner Bros., and Canal +, and for independent producers around the world, while his students have gone on to write for Amblin, Dreamworks, 20th Century Fox, and Netflix, and have even been nominated for Emmys and Golden Globes. His book Classical Storytelling and Contemporary Screenwriting is required reading in top screenwriting programs.

1:30PM - 3:00PM - BC205
Novelists at Work: How to Structure a Novel & Walk Away Like a Boss
Featuring Jung Yun, Susan Muaddi Darraj, Katia Ulysse, Lauren Francis Sharma and moderator Danuta Hinc. These writers share notes, observations, tips and reveal real-life challenges of creating flow on the page, making sense of the characters’ lives they create and the whole messy ordeal of narrative logic, all told through the eyes and experiences of authors committed to the craft of fiction.

2:00PM - 3:30PM - BC135
What We Are: Speck, Good Hair, Vanilla Bean, Cinnamon & Pearl:
When Words Make You Real
The anthology The Beiging of America, Being Mixed Race in the 21st Century takes on “race matters” and considers them through the firsthand accounts of mixed-race people in the United States including Chelsea Lemon Fetzer, Jackson Bliss, Francis Frost, Naomi Raquel Enright, and Herbert Harris, who unite with contributing editor Tara Betts in a reading and frank discussion “with unparalleled candor and unmatched honesty”. This session talks mixed race / multi-culture identity.

2:00PM - 3:30PM - BC143
Poet This!
Based on Lucille Clifton’s endearing phrase, “Why don’t you poet that?” Ailish Hopper directs a panel of poets including Thea Brown, Sarah Browning, Tafisha Edwards, Tatiana Figueroa Ramirez, David Yezzi, Winniebell Xinyu Zong and Enoch Pratt Free Library / Little Patuxent Review’s poetry contest winner Jalynn Harris, all at varying stages in their careers as poets.

3:00PM - 4:00PM - BC205
When it All Falls Down: Real Talk About Journalism in the Age of Trump
What it takes to be a journalist right now. Baltimore Beat founders Lisa Snowden-McCray and Brandon Soderberg talk nuts and bolts, what it means to be a journalist in 2019. Learn about journalism basics, pitching, storytelling with compassion, using social media, and more.

3:00PM - 4:00PM - BC205
It Takes a Village: Supporting the Local Literary Scene
Gwen Van Velsor of Yellow Arrow Publishing, Maria Goodson of Writers & Words and Victoria Kennedy of Zora’s Den emphasize how Baltimore’s thriving writing community depends on its inclusivity. Small presses, reading series, and writing community builders work together to weave a web of support for local writers with collaboration serving the greater literary good. This panel takes an in-depth look at the Baltimore independent literary scene and how to boost these efforts.

3:30PM - 5:00PM - BC143
We Need Diverse Books: Children’s & Young Adult Literature
Seasoned and debut authors discuss the importance of new voices and share information about the publishing industry as they know it. Sharon G. Flake, who celebrates the 20th anniversary of The Skin I’m In, debut author of Wilder, Andrew Simonet (founder of Artists U), Tiffany D. Jackson, whose Monday’s Not Coming won the 2019 NAACP Image Award, among others, and Susan Muaddi Darraj, author of the forthcoming middle-school series Farah Rocks, with the first Arab-American characters ever, join Enoch Pratt librarian Paula Willey in an invigorating conversation about writing for children and young adults for today’s diverse readership.




A bustling Literary Marketplace provides exhibit space to the area’s diverse community of self-published authors, small presses, literary journals, and organizations, literary accessories, where up to 40 tables of all things literary exist for your shopping pleasure. This year CityLit introduces music from regional musical guest artists as entertainment for Marketplace patrons.

Musical Guest Artists QueenEarth and Annie Cassidy will share their work.

(Are you a vendor interested in space in the marketplace? Click Here.)


The CityLit Festival is located in the University of Baltimore’s William H. Thumel, Sr. Business Center located at 11 West Mt. Royal Avenue (#8 on the linked map).

Festival attendees can park at the Fitzgerald Garage located at 80 West Oliver Street (#16 on the map). Pull a ticket when you arrive at the garage.

We have a limited number of parking discounts available... first come, first serve!  When you come to the Business Center ask at the CityLit Information Table for a “chaser” that you will use when you leave the garage and pay a discounted rate (with a credit card).

Click here for map.

NOTE: Discounted parking is limited... First come, first serve.


The 16th Annual CityLit Festival is brought to you (in part) by special grants from the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation and Maryland Humanities.

Click here to download PDF

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