Last night Miss L and I hit the Baltimore Book Fest. While we were, of course, there to check things out Miss L was there primarily to promote her new history book on the jewish community of Baltimore. I'm happy to say she sold enough to pay for the space and have a little leftover.
I avoided most of the dealers this year, even the ones like Raw Dog Screaming Press and the Radical Book Fair tent that I know I like. I just don't have the money or the physical space to be buying books right now. So that left me the booths of nonprofits and the performance spaces to check out.
I first stopped at a reading hosted by the Baltimore Playwrights Festival. Actors were reading work from this past years festival. It was a real mixed bag in terms of quality. Some felt like pieces written by undergrads while others were quite good. But with comedies, character studies and absurdist pieces it was nice to hear such a big variety of work.
The so-dubbed Creative Cafe held a reading sponsored by the Art of Conversation reading series/open mic and the Little Patuxent Review. I walked in on the end of one poet reading a nice, rhythmic piece about his father. It was real loving and caring without being sappy. He was followed up by a female poet---apologies to the poets for not writing your names down---who read a powerful piece entitled My Letter to Michelle Obama. It really cracked open the complicated dichotomy of her being beloved as a black woman in her position, but also concerns over her recent re-packaging to make herself more palatable to conservative, white America (ie straightening her hair and being dubbed the black Jackie O). Although the piece was a little long, it was certainly provocative. I definitely want to check out the reading series once I get a bit more settled in B-more. If these two poets are any indication of the quality of work, it should be a good time.
Aside from the performances, I talked a bit to some folks with the Maryland Writers Association and Baltimore Science Fiction Association. The area seems really rich with literary groups and outlets and I can't wait to learn more about them.
It's a shame D.C. doesn't have an equivalent to this. While they do have the National Book Festival---which is an amazing event for all the national and international stars it continues to get----there is nothing this large in D.C. that promotes authors whose reach is more regional or local. Perhaps there is one and I'm just not aware of it...and if so please let me know.
Baltimore Book Fest runs the rest of the weekend. So check it out if you have the time.