CityLit Project

16th Annual CityLit Festival - Saturday, April 27th

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

CityLit Project is proud to present the sixteenth 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 event schedule.

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:

“The Art of Telling Lies Skillfully”
That's how Aristotle described dramatic writing as he examined the recurring principles found in the successful works of his day. Twenty-five hundred years later, it remains an apt description of the contemporary craft of screenwriting... Join Award-winning screenwriter and screenwriting professor Brian Price (JHU, Yale, UCLA) as he demonstrates, through memorable clips and helpful diagrams, the essential elements that all successful movies share, starting with the requirements for a solid movie premise.

We Need Diverse Books: Children’s and Young Adult Literature
CityLit returns to celebrating literature for youth and those interested in writing it. On deck is Susan Muaddi Darraj, who is publishing the first middle-grade series of an Arab-American girl, Farah Rocks; Baltimore’s Artist University founder and debut author Andrew Simonet, whose work Wilder takes us on a roller coaster ride of juvenile delinquents; award-winning author Sharon G. Flake, who celebrates the 20th anniversary edition of her bestselling novel The Skin I’m In; and celebrated author Tiffany D. Jackson, critically-acclaimed author of YA novels, including the NAACP Image Award-nominated Allegedly and Monday’s Not Coming, a Walter Dean Myers Honored Book and Coretta Scott King New Talent Award winner.

Breaking Down Bars: Stories That Challenge Mass Incarceration
Dr. Tara Betts, Tony Lewis, Jr. and Chris Wilson joining, sharing excerpts from their books and discussing how these stories reflect the flaws and biases in mass incarceration.

Your Classics Aren’t My Classics! Decolonizing Literary Canon for Asian Americans.
Join Eliza Romero and an esteemed panel of Asian-American writers, Sharon Tran, Chris Jesu Lee, Mikita Rivas, Marissa Rodriguez and Fran Del Rosario, who will deconstruct the concept of a must-read and define literary canon, especially for Asian Americans.

Novelists at Work: How to Structure a Novel and Walk Away Like a Boss
Moderated by novelist Danita Hinc, CityLit presents working novelists Jung Yun, Susan Muaddi Darraj, Katia Ulysse and Lauren Francis Sharma, who will share their insights into the process of creating life on the page and discuss different ways to structure a novel.

What We Are: Speck, Good Hair, Vanilla Bean, Cinnamon & Pearl
When Words Make You Real. 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. The book’s contributing authors Chelsea Lemon Fetzer, Jackson Bliss, Francis Frost, Naomi Raquel Enright and Herbert Harris join forces with contributing editor Dr. Tara Betts in a reading and frank discussion about race.

No One Leaves Home Unless Home is the Mouth of a Shark
In this panel, moderated by poet Tatiana Figuero Ramirez, poets Daria-Ann Martineau, Ana Portnoy Brimmer, Lark Omura and Senait Mulugeta, 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.” This will be interactive experience with the audience and between the poets.

When It All Falls Down: Real Talk About Journalism in the Age of Trump
From the founders and editors of the newly-revived Baltimore Beat, Lisa Snowden-McCray and Brandon Soderberg talk about what it means to be a journalist in 2019. Learn about journalism basics, pitching, storytelling with compassion, using social media, and more.

Poet This!
In a nod to beloved Maryland poet Lucille Clifton, who had a way of saying, “Why don't you poet that?”, Ailish Hopper moderates a session of regional poets who are in different places in their careers, including Sarah Browning (former executive director of Split This Rock!), Tatiana Figuero-Ramirez, debut poet Winniebell Xinyu Zong, and more...

Identity in Artistry: Exploring the Queer Perspective
Under the guidance of professor Lucas Southworth and CityLit Project, seven Loyola University students, John Gillespie, Cara Hullings, Rachel Koller, Madeline Koontz, Connor Lindboom, Katie Shiber and Tara Ryan are curating a panel as their first initiation into becoming engaged literary citizens... They are selecting a panel of writers whose literary work integrates their identity in a way that provides insight into their lived experience as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. These writers have used their artistic medium to share their experiences and explore sexual identity, creating works that showcase an underrepresented perspective. (Authors to be announced soon.)

Truth & Trauma: How We Write Authentic Stories of Pain
Featuring Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson, Kristina Gaddy, Cija Jefferson, and Neda Semnani.
When we write nonfiction, we expose ourselves, our subjects and our readers to real stories of pain. How do we engage readers without exploiting our subjects? And what does it mean to relive a traumatic event, for the writer and people in the story? Four writers across the genre write global and local stories of war, loss, death, illness, abuse and crime will discuss researching and writing trauma, as well as the effect working with difficult subjects can have on a writer.

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. Representatives from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC), Robert W. Deutsch Foundation, Maryland Citizens for the Arts (MCA), Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance (GBCA) and others will have a candid conversation about the demands and expectations of applying for a grant. Materials from each funder will be provided.

It Takes a Village: Supporting the Local Literary Scene
Baltimore’s thriving writing community depends on its inclusivity. Here in Charm City, small presses, reading series, and writing community builders work together to weave a web of support for local writers. Join Gwen Van Velsor of Yellow Arrow Publishing, Maria Goodson of Writers & Words, and Victoria Kennedy of Zora’s Den as they share how collaboration serves the greater literary good. Take an in-depth look at the Baltimore independent literary scene and how you can help boost these efforts by seeking out local and independent literary organizations and getting involved as a writer, reader, or lover of literature.

History’s Mysteries: Shaping the Past Into a Literary Now
How do writers use history to create contemporary literature? What research do they do? How do they choose which histories to explore? How do they transform the past into stories, poems, novels and essays for today? What fidelity do they show to the historical record? Four writers representing multiple genres explore these questions and more, including history’s ongoing role as a compelling and necessary subject for writers. Featuring Eugenia Kim (The Kinship of Secrets), Shelley Puhak (Stalin in Aruba), Richard Slotkin (Greenhorns) and Michael Downs (The Strange and True Tale of Horace Wells, Surgeon Dentist).

Possible and Impossible Futures
A panel with Jason Harris, Sarah Pinsker, Erin Roberts, and K.M. Szpara that explores classic, recent, and upcoming near-future fictions and discusses the responsibilities and challenges of looking forward: utopias, dystopias, apocalypses, and hope.


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.

(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 attached map).
Festival attendees can park at the Fitzgerald Garage located at 80 West Oliver Street (#16 on the attached map). Pull a ticket when you arrive at the garage. When you come to the Business Center ask for a “chaser” that you will use when you leave the garage and pay (with a credit card).

Click here for map.

NOTE: Discounted parking is limited to the first 200 attendees!


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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