On June 25th, Chic Dambach stood up at the MICA Brown Center Auditorium podium and read from his memoir, Exhaust the Limits, about his life as a peace-maker. At the conclusion, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Dambach spent his adult life dedicated to domestic and international peace efforts, including a stint as Chief of Staff for Congressman John Garamendi and President and CEO of the Alliance for Peacebuilding.
Dambach and others read from their work in celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the CityLit Project – a non-profit dedicated to generating enthusiasm about literature in the Baltimore-area. Before and after the readings, local band, The Wayfarers performed their rootsy blend of country and Americana rock n’ roll.
In addition to Dambach, three other notable authors — who have all served as CityLit board chair at one time or another — read excerpts of their work.
Dan Fesperman, former Baltimore Sun reporter and nationally renowned thriller novelist, read from his upcoming novel, Unmanned, about a drone pilot in New Mexico. His style is both stark and matter-of-fact, keeping the audience on the edge of their seats as he read just a few pages of his novel.
Michael Salcman is a physician, poet and son of two Holocaust survivors. His poetry, which often relates to his experience as a medical professional, has a strong moral focus and is playful in its imagery.
Psychologist, musician, writer and photographer, Adrianna Amari, read a few poems from Prayer for the Morning Headlines, a book of poetry by Father Daniel Berrigan in which she also contributed haunting photos of Baltimore cemeteries.
In 2004, Gregg Wilhelm launched CityLit Project and presented its first program — CityLit Festival — in April of that year. Now, ten years later, CityLit Project hosts the CityLit Festival at the Enoch Pratt Free Library, presents the CityLit Stage at the Baltimore Book Festival, and manages CityLit Press – a publisher dedicated to providing writers an avenue for publication. They have also hosted writing workshops and youth programs and every October roll something new out for Free Fall Baltimore.
Wilhelm is a graduate of Loyola College and spent most of the 90s working at various publishing ventures in Baltimore, including a stint as a professor and organizer of Loyola University’s Apprentice House. Wilhelm saw the need for a more unified and inclusive literary arts scene in Baltimore and organized the CityLit Festival following the cancellation of the 2003 Baltimore Book Festival. The inaugural keynote was Edward P. Jones, a Pulitzer Prize winner for The Known Day. Over the last several years, CityLit Festival has featured numerous award winning authors including Steve Coll and Junot Diaz.