20th Annual CityLit Festival | Daylong Celebration
Saturday, March 25 • 10am – 7pm
CityLit Project in partnership with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra presents the CityLit Festival, a live and in-person, three-day event featuring a stellar lineup of national, regional, and local literary talent. This spring marks the 20th year of the free, signature event with Lifting As We Climb, as the festival theme, championing the small, literary nonprofit that is working to serve while trying to build. The daylong celebration on Saturday, March 25 at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall on 1212 Cathedral Street from 10:00 am – 7:00 pm, features poet, cultural critic, and winner of the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Little Devil in America, Hanif Abdurraqib, poet, co-creator, and writer for the Emmy-nominated web series ‘Brown Girls’ Fatimah Asghar (If They Come For Us), Lambda Literary Finalist for Transgender Fiction Megan Milks (Margaret and the Mystery of the Missing Body), and a new partnership with Hedgebrook, a premier residency for women writers introduces acclaimed author Carmen Maria Machado (In the Dream House).
The literary celebration continues on Tuesday, March 28, with former U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo presented in partnership with Chesapeake Shakespeare Company; and on Friday, March 31, CityLit joins Busboys and Poets – Baltimore to feature musical guest artist Jahiti, along with Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize Lifetime Achievement Award winner Patricia Smith (Unshuttered Poems), and a host of celebrated poets to kick off National Poetry Month.
“We are thrilled to host the 2023 CityLit Festival at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall,” said Mark C. Hanson, the BSO’s CEO & President. “There’s no better opportunity than this longstanding, significant community festival to remind everyone that performance and literary arts go hand in hand. Through this collaboration, the Baltimore Symphony is excited to support the incredible work of CityLit Project and welcome Baltimoreans of all ages into the Meyerhoff for this unique and special festival.”
Festival highlights include Little Devils with Unchained Arms with poet, essayist, and MacArthur Fellow Hanif Abdurraqib (They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us) whose keen observations about music and culture in America are a celebration of Black identity. He will be in conversation with NYT best-selling author, and former One Book Baltimore’s Jason Reynolds (Ain’t Burned All the Bright). Debut novelist Fatimah Asghar (When We Were Sisters) in Of Mourning & Memory discusses her new work exploring the lives of three orphaned sisters and what it means to be queer and Muslim in America with Nafisa Isa, Smithsonian’s Asian Pacific American Center Program Manager.
In Never Quite Like This, CityLit’s new partnership with Hedgebrook, located in Whidbey Island, Washington, introduces women writers in Baltimore and the East Coast region to the prestigious residency dedicated to uplifting the creative written work of women. “It is particularly meaningful to have this connection come about through their Executive Director and Hedgebrook alumna, Carla Du Pree! Our like-minded organizations are amplifying the voices of alumnae Carmen Maria Machado and Nicole Shawan Junior, (founder of Roots. Wounds. Words.) who will join the illustrious line-up of writers and artists for the first-ever Hedgebrook highlight event during this time-honored celebration of literature,” says Amber Flame, Hedgebrook Program Director.
Read our interview with former US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo here.