By MIA CAPOBIANCO Your Weekend Editor
This weekend marks the 20th anniversary of the Baltimore Book Festival, a well-attended and highly anticipated celebration of the arts. This year it will feature over 100 booksellers and exhibitors as well as nonstop readings on several stages, workshops, panel discussions, storytellers, live music and even cooking demonstrations from top chefs. As with most Baltimore events, food, beer and wine will be plentiful.
There are 12 programming partners this year including Red Emma’s, everyone’s favorite Station North café/bookstore; the National Aquarium; and the Johns Hopkins University Press. The 2015 festival has raised over $100,000 from corporate sponsorships, which is almost double last year’s funding.
In recent years the festival has moved from the Mount Vernon area to the Inner Harbor in part to accommodate large crowds (last year’s festival drew over 100,000 attendees). Needless to say it is a hectic event with a lot of moving parts, so I thought I would provide some guidance and give you my top picks for the festival this weekend.
For the Writing Sems kid, Free Friday Feedback!
Published poets, fiction editors and other literary authorities will provide feedback on your work and give you suggestions on how to proceed with your work. Bring 2-3 short poems or 4-5 pages of prose to the CityLit stage from 12-2 p.m. on Friday for free on-the-spot feedback.
For the booze lover, Literary Happy Hour
Grab a cold Raven Beer with the CityLit family, Poe Baltimore and Smile, Hon, You’re in Baltimore. There will be live music and literary conversation. This event will be held at the CityLit stage on Friday at 5 p.m.
For the over-achiever, Hitting the Big Time: The Journey to the New York Times List
Join six New York Times Best Sellers in discussion at the Maryland Romance Writers Stage from 5-6 p.m. on Friday. They will share their journeys to the top of the New York Times List, focusing on their moments of struggle and success.
For the community activist, Baltimore: The Path Forward
Five panelists will come together on Saturday from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at the Literary Salon for a discussion about Baltimore’s future. They will consider Baltimore’s many diverse communities and examine the necessary components in unifying a city. Panelists are all acclaimed authors, including award-winning investigative journalist Stephen Janis and Lester Spence, an associate professor of political science and Africana studies at Hopkins.
For the Art Ho, Celebrating Baltimore Zinesters!
Head to the Radical Book Pavilion on Sunday at 1 p.m. to join Red Emma’s in discussion with members of the Baltimore zine scene. For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, a zine is typically a self-published booklet consisting of original or appropriated photographs, text, artwork and the like. Baltimore’s zine culture is strong and growing. The panel will include exciting new members of the scene as well as longtime favorites.
The Baltimore Book Festival runs from Sept. 25-27, operating from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day. Admission is free and so is transportation if you take the JHMI to Penn Station and transfer to the purple route on the Charm City Circulator. I recommend checking out www.baltimorebookfestival.com to view the full list of events and plan your visit.