Authors Nikki Giovanni and Chasten Buttigieg will headline the seventh annual Books in Bloom Festival in Downtown Columbia on May 13.
Authors Nikki Giovanni and Chasten Buttigieg will headline the seventh annual Books in Bloom Festival in Downtown Columbia on May 13.

Grow your personal library and hear from authors during the seventh annual Books in Bloom Festival in Downtown Columbia on May 13.

This year’s festival will be headlined by Nikki Giovanni, a Black poet, activist, and author; and Chasten Buttigieg, a teacher, LGBTQIA+ advocate, and author. 

The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Color Burst Park, located at 6000 Merriweather Drive in Columbia. It is free and open to the public, though attendees are encouraged to RSVP.

“I am excited to welcome Chasten Buttigieg and Nikki Giovanni as headliners for this year’s Books in Bloom festival, providing a platform for important conversations, with Chasten and Nikki set to inspire us all with a shared dedication to education and equality,” said Phillip Dodge, executive director of the Downtown Columbia Partnership, in a statement. “Through the power of books, we can explore diverse perspectives and engage in meaningful dialogue that enriches our lives and expands our horizons. As the largest progressive book festival in the region, Books in Bloom provides a space for these conversations, encouraging us to learn, grow, and connect with one another.”

Buttigieg, whose husband is U.S. Secretary of Transportation and 2020 presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, has newly released a young adult adaptation of his 2021 memoir, “I Have Something to Tell You,” about being gay in a small town in the Midwest. Buttigieg will share personal stories about his journey of embracing his identity. 

Giovanni is a New York Times bestselling author and seven-time winner of the NAACP Image Award. Her latest book, “A Library,” is a children’s novel about the magic of libraries. Giovanni will read from her work as well as discuss how social issues intersect with children’s literature. The author previously held a sold-out event at Busboys and Poets in Downtown Columbia in November 2021.

The festival will also include authors Aiden Thomas of “Cemetery Boys”; Chrissy King of “The Body Liberation Project”; Efrén C. Olivares of “My Boy Will Die of Sorrow: A Memoir of Immigration from the Front Lines”; Eleanor Herman of “Off With Her Head – Three Thousand Years of Demonizing Women in Power”; Emily Barth Isler of “Aftermath”; Eric Klinenberg of “Palaces For The People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, And The Decline Of Civic Life”; Kevin Naff of “How We Won the War for LGBTQ Equality”; Manuel Betancourt of “The Male Gazed”; Maureen Johnson of “The Truly Devious Series”; Sarah Cypher of “The Skin And Its Girl”; and Rafael Alvarez of “Don’t Count Me Out.”

There will be discussions around freedom of speech, freedom of expression, banned books, race, gender, and more.

The Books in Bloom Festival began in 2017 to celebrate Columbia’s 50th anniversary. It is presented by the Downtown Columbia Partnership and The Howard Hughes Corporation.

“From the start, Columbia was envisioned to be a garden for growing people,” said Greg Fitchitt, president for the Columbia Region for The Howard Hughes Corporation, in a statement. “We are proud to support Books in Bloom as a part of our continued commitment to James Rouse’s vision for a vibrant, thriving community valuing civic life and building an inclusive culture.”

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Marcus Dieterle

Marcus Dieterle is the managing editor of Baltimore Fishbowl. He returned to Baltimore in 2020 after working as the deputy editor of the Cecil Whig newspaper in Elkton, Md. He can be reached at

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