CityLit Festival Puts Poets First

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Claudia Rankine
Claudia Rankine

catch of the day fish (2)With the anniversary of Freddie Gray’s death and the uprising approaching, a lot of writers are set to come to town. Organizers of a festival that falls in the same calendar space believe the role of poets in shaping the social justice conversation shouldn’t be overlooked.

The CityLit Festival is set to take place this weekend, with much of the activity focused around the University of Baltimore. That’s a change from past years, when the main branch of Enoch Pratt Central Library.

Last year, the festival went on despite the many cancellations that happened after the curfew imposed following the riots. It opened with the reading of a poem about Freddie Gray by Afaa Michael Weaver, marking a milestone in the yearlong conversation about race and justice that has followed.

“I believe that poets will lead that conversation,” CityLit executive director Gregg Wilhelm told USA Today at the time.

With the festival falling during National Poetry Month, CityLit is putting verse out front once again.

In connection with the event, Claudia Rankine is set to read on April 15 at MICA, and at the Penn North branch of Enoch Pratt Free Library on April 16. E. Ethelbert Miller is also a headliner, set to speak at 4 p.m. on Saturday in the University of Baltimore Student Center. There will be plenty of prose, as well, with Paul Lisicky and Baltimore’s D. Watkins also slated to present.

Check out the full schedule.

Stephen Babcock

Stephen Babcock is the editor of Baltimore and an editor-at-large of Baltimore Fishbowl.

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