Image via the Baltimore Book Festival’s Facebook page.
Image via the Baltimore Book Festival’s Facebook page.

The Baltimore Book Festival returns two months later than usual, now merged with Light City into a 10-day event called Brilliant Baltimore. Most of the book festival events take place over the first weekend, Friday, Nov. 1 to Sunday, Nov. 3, with a few evening events through Wednesday. 

The location has changed–take a look at the map on the website before heading over. Almost all of the staged events and the book sales are in the Columbus Center, the big glass building on Pier 5. The CityLit stage is in the Pier 5 Hotel, and the exhibitors are still at tables encircling the harbor. The Children’s stage and the Comic Pavilion are over there too, in their traditional spots. 

We combed the schedule with a leaning toward local literary talent. Here are a dozen totally subjective picks, meant only to get you over there so you can set your own course. Hang out for dinner and Light City, which looks to be more beautiful than ever.

Friday, Nov. 1
Free Friday Feedback
with Ian Anderson, Evan Balkan, Rebekah Kirkman, Chelsea Lemon Fetzer, Gabriella Souza. 4 p.m. at CityLit Stage – Pier 5 Hotel, Chesapeake Room.
Aspiring poets, novelists, memoirists, screenwriters–register for this opportunity to receive a 30-minute critique of five double-spaced pages from professionals in the field. Either email in advance with two editor choices or go to The Ivy Bookshop area before 4 p.m. on Friday.

Memoir: Writing the Difficult Story with Jeannie Vanasco, Petula Caesar, Karen Stefano. 6 p.m. at CityLit Stage – Pier 5 Hotel, Chesapeake Room.
Jeannie Vanasco’s book is one of the most stunning I’ve read this year. She telephones a guy who raped in her high school, a good friend at the time, and they have a series of conversations about what happened. Karen Stefano’s book comes highly recommended on a similar topic; Petula Caesar is a local journalist with a new memoir on the tough topic of colorism in the African-American community.

A Thousand Words: Art and Photography with Devin Allen, Kyle Pompey, Glenford Nunez and Aaron Maybin. 6 p.m. at Invisible Majority Stage – USM Columbus Center Plaza.
Devin Allen is the local photographer and Gordon Parks fellow who helps teaches kids about photography. Kyle Pompey is the photojournalist and owner of Nice Shot Media, LLC. Glenford Nunez is famous for his photos of natural hair. And Aaron Maybin is the former NFL player who now is an activist, artist and teacher. I just have a feeling about this one.

Saturday, Nov. 2
Baltimore Beat Presents Baltimore Today. 1 p.m. at Radical Book Fair – USM Columbus Center Plaza.
Choosing from the myriad D. Watkins events at the festival? Here he’s talking with Lawrence Lanahan of “The Lines Between Us” and award-winning local podcast producer Stacia L. Brown. Lisa Snowden-McCray, editor of the Baltimore Beat, moderates.

Small Press Roundtable Featuring Mason Jar Press Authors  with Tyrese Coleman, Malka Older and Justin Sanders. 1:30 p.m. at The Ivy Bookshop Stage – USM Columbus Center.
Mason Jar is a small local start-up founded by a couple of grads from the University of Baltimore MFA program that is making big news with books of prose and poetry that are beautifully produced and, in their words, “a little off.” The astute Nate Brown moderates.

Strong City Baltimore Presents: Investment, Disinvestment and Neighborhood Change in Baltimore with Lisa Snowden-McCray, Elizabeth Nix, Marisela Gomez, Klaus Philipsen. 2 p.m. at Inspire Stage – Top of the World Observation Level, World Trade Center.
No city is more obsessed with its neighborhoods than Baltimore. This panel looks at the evolution of specific neighborhoods in terms of population change, gentrification and development. Elizabeth Nix, a professor at the University of Baltimore, is one of the best speakers you’ll hear on this topic. 

Nnedi Okorafor. Image via Facebook.

Africanfuturism with Nnedi Okorafor. Saturday, 5 p.m. at Literary Salon USM Columbus Center.
Okorafor, an award-winning Marvel Comics author, coined the term “Africanfuturism” to describe the way she weaves African culture into her settings and characters. If you are interested in science fiction and fantasy as agents of cultural change, you will love this.

Word & Image: Creative Collaboration with UMBC and The Light Ekphrastic  with Katie Feild, Melissa Penley Cormier, Edward Doyle-Gillespie and Mandy May. 6 p.m. at Inspire Stage – Top of the World Observation Level, World Trade Center.
Ekphrastic art is when one art comments on another–a poem about a painting, for example. A panel of eccentric, super-creative people talk about their experiences with this type of collaboration. 

Short Stories Matter: The Art of the Short Tale with Rion Amlicar Scott, Camille Acker, Elise Levine, Andria Nacina Cole. 7 p.m. at CityLit Stage – Pier 5 Hotel, Chesapeake Room.
Bowie State’s Rion Amilcar Scott’s new collection just made the Publisher’s Weekly best of 2019 and is nominated for major awards. This line-up looks like a winner to me.

Sunday, Nov. 3
New Lit Tales: Beauty, Ancestry & Healing in the Aftermath
with Judith Krummeck, Melanie Hatter, Christina Chiu. 7 p.m. at CityLit Stage – Pier 5 Hotel, Chesapeake Room.
I am hosting this event, featuring a novel about an Asian-American fashion designer, another about the family of a murdered young black woman, and the third a memoir of immigration from South Africa. 

Oh, But My Heart is Wild & My Bones are Steel: Women Poets Take the Stage with Pique Collective with Erika Meitner, Rachael Uwada Clifford, Chet’la Sebree, Tatiana Figueroa Ramierz, Lauren Alleyne, Pique Collective. 2 p.m. at CityLit Stage – Pier 5 Hotel, Chesapeake Room.
I heard Erika Meitner read her poem about basketball in her hometown of Cleveland at the National Book Critics Circle finalists reading last year. She is stunning. 

What Are the Public Humanities and Why Do They Matter? A conversation with William Egginton, Anand Pandian and Danielle Evans. 6 p.m. at The Ivy Bookshop Stage – USM Columbus Center.
A sleeper pick from Ivy owner Emma Snyder, who has been hosting this series at Bird in Hand. Egginton is a literary critic and philosopher; Pandian an anthropologist; they talk about what their disciplines have to offer in the current social and political situation.

University of Baltimore Professor Marion Winik is the author of "The Big Book of the Dead,” “First Comes Love,” and several other books, and the host of The Weekly Reader on WYPR. Sign up for her...