CityLit Festival – Reimagined: Words on the Winds of Change
Tuesday, March 9 | Ongoing through March 20
presented by CityLit Project + Enoch Pratt Free Library
CityLit Project partners with the Enoch Pratt Free Library for the 18th CityLit Festival as a virtual, month-long celebration with a special event each week and a day of programming on Saturday, March 20, 2021. Featured guest artists include poetry titans Nikky Finney and Terrance Hayes, novelist George Saunders teaching a Master Class ($), novelists Jenny Offill, Emily St. John Mandel, and Brandon Hobson, and a grief writing workshop withGayle Danley and Kimberley Lynne. Returning to the annual event is the popular 90-minute craft intensive titled ReThinking How We Do Story with Jennifer Baker, Matthew Salesses, Felicia Rose Chavez, Courtney Maum, and 30-minute editorial critiques with six esteemed regional editors in different genres ($). The Festival Finale highlights a special, curated event by Baltimore creatives, Nia Jones, APoetNamedNate and Kirby Griffin, spotlighting poets and filmmakers in a visual presentation called Somewhere in the Reflection.
The Festival attracts readers and writers from across the region, allowing attendees to engage fully with Jenny Offill “Weather” and Emily St. John Mandel “Station Eleven” whose reading and conversation launches the month-long event, with National Book Award winner Terrance Hayes “American Sonnets for My Past” in A Poet of These Times next week. A Festival score, Man Booker Prize winner George Saunders, “Lincoln in the Bardo”, will teach this year’s master class, A Little Romance: Reading Chekhov to Understand Love in a Zoom meeting.
Opening the day-long programming are Brandon Hobson “The Removed” and Kelli Jo Ford “Crooked Hallelujah” whose stories explore Cherokee myth and heritage, and dismantle generational cycles, the tragedy of police violence and the bond between mother-daughter. Nikky Finney, the recipient of the 2020 Wallace Stevens Award presented by the Academy of American Poets who praised her “fierce moral conviction”, reflects on the past year, the necessity of poetry, and the importance of historical context reflected in these times and in our literature.
This Festival marks the ‘return’ to the Pratt, reimagined in a virtual setting. In past years it took place at the University of Baltimore. It also introduces a new festival highlight The Writer’s Room, a 30-minute, informal craft conversation with Offill, St. John Mandel, Hayes, and a special writer’s room, Poet to Poet with Nikky Finney. Attendees must register through Eventbrite and are encouraged to come with questions meant to serve their work. The Festival includes critical discussions on The ‘State’ of Baltimore and YA authors referencing omission in the literary landscape.
“We are excited to co-host this year’s virtual CityLit Festival,” says Pratt Library President & CEO Heidi Daniel. “While we can’t wait to welcome the event back to our Central Library, I’m excited to see the new audience this important literary event will reach in Baltimore and beyond.”
“While this year’s Festival isn’t as large as previous ones, and sadly without our Literary Marketplace, we recognize our limitations as a small organization. We wanted to honor this region with treasured authors and opportunities to engage with them through The Writer’s Room,” says Carla Du Pree, executive director of CityLit Project. “We hope people take advantage of everything offered, especially, the critique sessions and the craft intensive from industry darlings. The fun remains in the discovery, and the idea of rethinking how we do stories.” This year’s iteration is a month-long observance and introduces members of The Village. https://www.citylitproject.org/about-us/the-village/
The Festival bookseller is The Ivy Bookshop. The Festival is FREE. Pre-registration is required for the Master Class ($), One-on-One Editorial Sessions ($), The Writer’s Room and the Joy in Grief workshop. For more information, visit citylitproject.org or prattlibrary.org.