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Nikky Finney Will Be Keynote Speaker at 2020 CityLit Festival on March 21st


UPDATE! The 2020 CityLit Festival Has Been Postponed Due to the Coronavirus Outbreak. More Details to Come When Available.

CityLit welcomes National Book Award winner Nikky Finney as the keynote speaker at the 17th Annual CityLit Festival on Saturday, March 21, 2020, 9:30 am to 5:30 pm, at the Enoch Pratt Central Library at 400 Cathedral Street. Nikki will share from her forthcoming collection “Love Child’s Hotbed of Occasional Poetry,” years after her legendary National Book Award acceptance speech for “Head off & Split”.

This year’s daylong observance of literature returns more robust than ever, featuring over 65 poets and writers with 21 sessions, including 30-minute One-on-One Editorial Critique Sessions with seven editors, a Master Class with novelist Susan Straight, three 90-minute craft intensives, and a vibrant Literary Marketplace* in the Central Hall with exhibitors of small presses, literary journals and arts organizations, including members of our local collective of organizations known as The Village.

In a special nod to the Year of the Woman and the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commemoration, 70 percent of the authors featured are women. Panels spotlighting women will include CityLit’s 2019 Harriss Poetry Prize winner Burgi Zenhaeusern, Dora Malech, Cynthia Manick and Madhuri Pavamani, with a special feature showcasing Baltimore poet Nia June’s “A Black Girl Country”, as well as four prominent authors with new releases: Amber Sparks, Christina Chiu, Laura Bogart and Donna Hemans. Children’s author Laura Shovan and Laura Pegram, editor in chief of Kweli Journal and The Color of Children’s Literature Conference in New York, will center conversations around Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop and windows, mirrors, sliding glass doors, the recent increase in #NativeVoices and much more.

With the debuted success of last year’s 90-minute craft intensive, this year attendees can gear up for three intense sessions on craft: writing a short story for publication, drafting the creative nonfiction essay and information about the competitive publishing industry. Each session has five experts, including Dawn Raffel, Leslie Pietrzyk, Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson, Ron Cassie and Jennifer Baker.

Other Festival Highlights:

30-Minute Editorial Critique Sessions ($10 Pre-registration Required. Click here.)

Master Class with Novelist Susan Straight ($10 Pre-registration Required. Click here.)

New York Times bestselling author Casey Cep will discuss “Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee”

Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison will speak candidly about bipolar disorder and her book “An Unquiet Mind”

Jennifer Baker, founder of Minorities in Publishing, will talk about industry trends

"The Slam,” an immersive stage play by Raw Poetry Production

Debut poet Marwa Helal will discuss immigration and the “cost” of citizenship

Writing Through Recovery with Lia Purpura, a lively discussion from regional universities about Who Needs an MFA? moderated by Marion Winik

Critical discussion on The ‘State’ of Baltimore

Sessions specifically designed to support writers with local, regional and national funders

Representatives from residencies including The Clifton House, Rhode Island Writers of Color Colony, Good Contrivance Farm,
Kent Cultural Alliance Visiting Artist Residency and Hedgebrook

* FREE Registration for literary-related vendors is still available... Click here for complete Literary Marketplace registration form and details!

Special After-Event Reading!

The day ends offsite with an Indigo Reading at the nearby Hotel Indigo, in the Francis Scott Key Room on the 9th floor, beginning at 6:30 pm.

HEALTH UPDATE: Both the Pratt and CityLit are invested in practicing necessary safety measures to make this experience a meaningful and safe one for all involved. This includes doing what is possible to sanitize the venue, offering hand sanitizer throughout the festival site, encouraging people to wash hands thoroughly and often, and requesting those who are sick to stay home.

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