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Introducing the 19th Annual CITYLIT FESTIVAL – Live, Virtual & Month-long!
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Introducing the 19th Annual CITYLIT FESTIVAL – Live, Virtual & Month-long!

CityLit Festival – Reimagined II: How We Break Free featuring keynote speaker Nikole Hannah-Jones, authors Kristen Radtke, Glory Edim, Christine Platt, Melissa Febos & Matt Bell, with a Master Class taught by Kiese Laymon

Baltimore, Md. (January 31, 2022) — CityLit Project presents the annual 19th CityLit Festival, a live and virtual, fully reimagined signature event. The celebration for readers and writers extends its partnership with Enoch Pratt Free Library, Maryland Centers for Creative Classrooms, Maryland Humanities, Arts Education in Maryland Schools, Motor House, Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance, Busboys and Poets-Baltimore, and BmoreArt magazine in an ongoing design to elevate the literary arts in this region. How We Break Free: Confronting Hard Truths is the underlying theme of the month-long event that boasts three live gatherings. The Festival begins with a virtual event on March 1, 2022, daylong programming on Saturday, March 12, 2022, at the Pratt Central Library, and ending on April 1, 2022, at Busboys and Poets, as a nod and declaration of National Poetry Month.

This year’s Festival highlights creator and Pulitzer Prize-winning, investigative journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones of The 1619 Project: The New Origin Story and Born On The Water, which was introduced in 2019 in a major multimedia initiative in The New York Times Magazine to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the beginning of slavery. Hannah-Jones brings this national, invigorating conversation about the contributions of Black Americans and how the legacy of slavery informs our lives, to Baltimore with author and historian Martha S. Jones from Johns Hopkins University. This partnership event is designed to engage and bring educators, community leaders, students, and creatives into a mission of discovery, embarking on conversations during and beyond the Festival.

Kiese Laymon, author of the novel Long Division, whose work Heavy, NYT named one of the 50 Best Memoirs of the past 50 years, will teach the Master Class “Keeping It In The House,” the art and necessity of exploring virtue and villainy in our writings about home, exploring harms committed and harms caused through readings and writing prompts.

Independent bookseller, The Ivy Bookshop joins us this year with Festival books for purchase online and at two live events.

The Festival theme centers around confronting hard truths throughout the month, signifying ways to break strongholds, to plant seeds of possibility, and signal ways we grow to seek change through understanding our behaviors, past and present. What better way to do that than through books, poetry, song, and in-depth conversations with you in the room.

Festival sessions will discuss letting go and breaking free, reshaping the past to foster hope and the birth of promise, whether it’s navigating the challenges and triumphs of facing isolation and experiencing solitude as we enter the third year of a pandemic, with Seek You’s graphic memoirist Kristen Radtke and editor Natalie Eve Garrett The Lonely Stories; disrupting the narrative of how we write in 90-minute craft intensives with local literary weights BmoreArt’s Rebekah Kirkman and Angela Carroll, and some of the nation’s leading authors, Melissa Febos (Girlhood), Matt Bell (Appleseed), Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai (The Mountains Sing) and poet/publisher Dean Bartoli Smith (Baltimore Sons); or dismantling the ideation of becoming American from women in public and private spaces, featuring authors Eman Quotah and Nadia Hashimi.

In a tribute to bell hooks, the Festival celebrates “Black Girls, Bone Black and Breathing” with Well Read Black Girl’s founder Glory Edim and prize-winning poet DaMaris Hill discussing their new works, with poet Nia June in an exploration of the interior and treasured lives of Black girlhood.

The signature event winds down on a high note and promise on March 29th at the Motor House, while exploring the art of decluttering our closets and our attitudes to make room for what’s possible with afrominimalist Christine Platt, popular podcast Life I Swear’s Chloe Dulce Louvouezo, and Permission to Glow, Kristoffer Carter’s spiritual guide to finding purpose and building joy. Whether it’s clearing out your closets or reframing your psyche, the Festival is sure to make you think beyond what’s possible, make you grow in unexpected ways, and make you glow on the crest of language.

This year’s finale will be held live “Killing Rage: A Festival of Poets” at Busboys and Poets – Baltimore as a send-off and nod to National Poetry Month, showcasing a bounty of poets such as Burgi Zenhaeusern, Marjan Naderi, Arao Ameny with musical guest artist Like Water.

“We’re beyond thrilled to feature Nikole Hannah-Jones’ groundbreaking work that revisits, reframes, and confronts this nation’s past and its legacy of slavery,” says Carla Du Pree, Executive director of CityLit Project. “We’re also ecstatic by the burgeoning enthusiasm surrounding this work, how it has fostered a wider, more cohesive creative community that exists in Baltimore.”

The ever-popular One-on-One 30-minute critique sessions ($) are back virtually with a breadth of talented editors who are also writers. Returning to the annual event is the popular The Writers Room, a 30-minute, informal craft conversation that debuted last year designed to get writers stoked for the real work. This year it features graphic artist Kristen Radtke and writing coach Kristoffer Carter on finishing that book.

The Festival attracts readers and writers from across the nation, allowing attendees to engage fully with the speakers. CityLit encourages you to visit the website throughout the month for updates and to learn more about our partners, Festival sessions, featured authors, and members of The Village.

The Festival is FREE. Pre-registration may be required for ALL live and virtual events. All live events will require masks and proof of full vaccination. Special registration is required to attend the Master Class ($), One-on-One Editorial Sessions ($), and The Writer’s Room. For more information, visit citylitproject.org. Information will continue to be posted and updated on the website throughout the month. Covid measures will be observed continuously to keep attendees and presenters safe and out of harm’s way.

CityLit Project nurtures the culture of literature, creates enthusiasm for the literary arts, connects a community of avid readers and writers and designs opportunities for diverse audiences to embrace the literary arts. CityLit is noted for its three signature events, the CityLit Stage, the CityLit Studio: Writers on Craft, Creativity & Community, and the CityLit Festival each spring.

The Enoch Pratt Free Library, the nation’s first free library system, opened its doors in 1886, the result of the generosity and imagination of businessman and philanthropist Enoch Pratt. Mr. Pratt envisioned a public library where “races, ages, and socio-economic classes mingled and people could educate themselves – without cost,” and his passionate belief continues to guide the organization. The Library’s mission is to empower, enrich, and enhance the quality of life for all through equitable access to information, services, and opportunity.

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