Free Fall Baltimore’s NEW Literary Arts Week!

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Free Fall Baltimore is back! Every fall, our awesome friends over at the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts present an exciting series of cultural events during the month of October. However, this year’s Free Fall Baltimore will be even more exciting with a new Literary Arts Week added to the festivities!

Literary Arts Week runs from October 13-20 and will feature author readings, writing workshops, open mic performances and other events to highlight Baltimore’s rich literary culture.

Beyond Literary Arts Week there are literally dozens of free museum tours, theater performances, concerts, kid-friendly events and much more! Check out the list of events on Free Fall Baltimore.

Follow @promoandarts on Twitter to get all the latest news on upcoming events throughout Baltimore.

Baltimore Book Festival This Weekend!

If you live in the DMV and have never been to the Baltimore Book Festival, then you need to head to Baltimore’s Mt. Vernon neighborhood this weekend to see what the fuss is all about.

From author appearances and book signings, to cooking demos, open mic opportunities, historical tours, storytelling, street performances, music and food, there is something for everyone at the Baltimore Book Festival.

This year’s author lineup includes “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” star Teresa Giudice (Fabulicious: Fast & Fit); Grammy-nominated singer Ledisi (Better Than Alright: Finding Peace, Love & Power); bestselling author Ann Hood (The Knitting Circle); Laura Lippman (And When She Was Good) and Jessica Anya Blau (The Summer of Naked Swim Parties).

To check out the full lineup of authors, performances and events (including the City Paper’s super cool Book Swap), check out the Baltimore Book Festival’s website.

Check out these highlights from last year’s Baltimore Book Festival…

Follow @BmoreBookFest on Twitter, hashtag #2012BBF.

National Book Festival This Weekend!

There’s no better way to kick off fall than with the Library of Congress’s National Book Festival! The event, now in its 12th year, features over 100 authors, poets and illustrators on the National Mall. There are events for just about everyone from children and teens, to history buffs, foodies, poetry lovers and more.
The National Book Festival kicks off today at 10 a.m. and ends tomorrow evening. For those of you in the DMV area, getting to the National Book Festival is quite easy via Metro. The National Mall is only steps away from the Orange Line’s Smithsonian Metro Stop.

The Anatomy of Inspiration

This is a case of art inspiring art.

I know I’m on the tail-end of the Jay-Z/Kanye “Otis” rage. The song has been blaring through car speakers, stereo speakers and MP3 devices for the past few months. At my cousin’s wedding reception back in September, the DJ cued up “Otis” and the crowd went lost their minds.All the young people flocked to the dance floor, moving their bodies to the infectious, driving rhythm of the song. Meanwhile, the older folks sat on the sidelines listening a familiar voice from their past crooning and then being looped while Kanye and Jay-Z rapped at a rapid-fire pace.

In a case of old meets new, the younger generation got introduced to Otis Redding, the soul legend probably best known for “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” who died too soon. The older generation, on the other hand, already knew of Kanye and Jay-Z, both provocative, multi-award winning artists that can be seen or heard on any channel of the TV or radio any given hour of the day.

What comes first? The inspiration or the inspiration? I’m always intrigued by what inspires artists to create their art. In music, I appreciate inventive uses of samples, and in this case, I love what Jay-Z and Kanye did with “Try A Little Tenderness.” Kanye took the driving part of the hook and let it go until Redding got into a guttural groove and then looped it. I thought it was brilliant.

There was a video clip of the audio of the song (that has since been removed from YouTube). The comments from posters were rather interesting, if you ask me. (Please note, the time stamps in the comments below probably do not match up with the video that’s posted above. But you get the gist of what they’re saying.)

  • “2:00 is where Kayne found his treasure……..he took a chunk.
  • 3:263:29 is where the magic happens…..he looped the Hell out of that!
  • Shout out to Def Jam for sending Otis peoples (sic) that Royalty Check!” – BrainFood

Art has been inspiring art for as long as man has been creating. I took a class in grad school examining the history of the short story. It was interesting to learn who inspired whom. We spent much of the semester deconstructing some of early short stories of E.T.A. Hoffman, Heinrich von Kleist, Alexander Pushkin, Ivan Turgenev, Guy de Maupassant and others. We looked at the progression of the short story form and how one author was influenced by a predecessor and so on and so on. Then we were challenged to write pastiches, allowing ourselves to be inspired by one of the many classic short stories we read in class. My most successful pastiche in the class was inspired by Guy de Maupassant’s “Madame Tellier’s Establishment.” I used the framework and some techniques from de Maupassant’s work to create a story that could stand on its own. Some who have read it suggest I should enter it in a literary contest of some sort. I just might do that one of these days.

Who or what has inspired you lately?

Baltimore Book Festival – Sept. 23-25

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Mark your calendars for September 23-25, the dates for the 16th Annual Baltimore Book Festival! This is one of the premiere literary festivals in the country, featuring many of the best and brightest authors from across the country.

I absolutely love the Baltimore Book Festival. It’s held in one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in all of Baltimore: Mount Vernon. The mid-September weather usually is just right, not too hot and not too cool.

The lineup for this year’s festival includes: Sherman Alexie, Common, Tananarive Due, Kimberla Lawson Roby, Laura Lippman, Roland Martin, Terry McMillan, Jacquelyn Mitchard, Tavis Smiley, Alice Walker and many more.

If you’re interested in being a part of the behind-the-scenes action at this year’s Baltimore Book Festival, you can sign up to volunteer with the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts. For aspiring writers, it’s a great way to get immersed in the literary world (and network with other writers, too).

It’s a shame that both the Baltimore Book Festival and the National Book Festival (sponsored by the Library of Congress) are on the same weekend. But if you can manage to make both events, you won’t regret it. However, if you can’t, don’t worry. Several authors, including Terry McMillan and Sherman Alexie, will be appearing at both festivals.

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Me and my fellow BOPA volunteers with former Minnesota governor and author Jesse Ventura.