Thursday, October 10, 2013

Sportswriter Frank Deford calls "Bawlmer, Merlin, My Hametown" a "wonderful place for a boy to learn to live" in his recent memoir Over Time: My Life As a Sportswriter
. He looks back on his upbringing with clear-eyed affection, loving Baltimore for its unpretentiousness and ability to, like his parents, carry on through ups and downs.

There was, after all, a humility to Baltimore that was sweet and enriching, simply because Baltimore was, altogether, looked down on, we did not tolerate arrogance....
What especially hurt about being from Baltimore was the glory that it had lost.... Into the middle of the nineteenth century, Baltimore had been a cosmopolitan jewel, gateway to Dixie, harbor to the world.... The mighty B&O Railroad steamed over the Alleghenies, carrying goods and civilization to the benighted West. Johns Hopkins Hospital cared, best, for humankind. It was in Baltimore that Samuel Morse took the whole world a step up from Gutenberg, punching out, "What hath God wrought?"
But by the time I grew up, Baltimore was a tentative place, only a stream or two short of a backwater. It had become the quintessential branch town. The harbor had become a Stygian tributary leading to a humdrum skyline that was dominated by a bizarre faux-Florentine building that was topped by a rendering of an antacid fizz bottle. (And wouldn't you just know: it was Bromo-Seltzer, the runner-up heartburn remedy, not the pre-eminent Alka-Seltzer.
Baltimore has also been belittled simply because too many of us talked funny. It was a horribly grating nasal accent, sort of lispy, somehow produced because it was here where the harsh Bronx tones from the North crashed head-on into the softer hillbilly lilt moving up from the hollows of the Blue Ridge.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Back where I started

I started this blog four years ago, after just having moved here, to explore Baltimore via books. It's been a most successful journey. I've read mysteries, poetry, non-fiction, romance, children's books, YA, and adult novels, all featuring Baltimore or by an author who has a Baltimore connection or which feature a Baltimore scene or two. I've gotten to know the literary scene here; it's active and welcoming. I hosted book talks at the Baltimore Book Festival, CityLit Festival, and the American Craft Council show. After this location, I went on to Reading Local: Baltimore, Charm City Current, and Baltimore Style magazine's website. And so, I did it, I'm done, I've adapted and moved on to regular life.

But it was such a great experience and exposed me to such a variety of works that I find myself continuing to seek out Baltimore writers and scenes and connections. It's an interesting filter through which to approach literary life, making bedfellows of mystery writer Laura Lippman and poet Afaa Michael Weaver, each with very different Baltimore histories; genteel Anne Tyler and wild Larry Doyle.

I think I'll keep going, back here where I started.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Follow me...

on over to Reading Local is a collection of blogs about books, authors, and literary events in cities around the United States: Portland (where it started), Seattle, Chicago, Atlanta, and now Baltimore. Since our goals were the same--promoting local literary and book-related life--The Baltimore Bibliophile decided to join them. I will now be posting all new entries at Come on over!

Drumroll, please...

This year's pick for the One Maryland One Book program will be Outcasts United by Warren St. John. Read the press release from the Maryland Humanities Council here. September and October events to be announced.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Some Events February 26-March 4

Friday, February 26, 7pm: The 6th Annual People's Poetry Awards; Eubie Blake Center, 847 N. Howard Street; $5 before 8pm, $10 after

Sunday, February 28, 2pm: Jerald Walker, author of Street Shadows, talks about his newest book at the Central Library

Sunday, February 28, 7pm: Last Rites Baltimore, Baltimore Youth Hostel, 17 W. Mulberry Street

Monday, March 1, 3:30-5pm: Celebrate National Pig Day! Listen to a pig tale. Learn fun facts about pigs. Make a piggy bank to take home. At the Hamilton Branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library. The Baltimore Bibliophile tries to pick only the most creative or popular events to share. This definitely qualifies.

Tuesday, March 2, 6:30pm: Ted Venetoulis talks about Hail to the Cheat at the Central Library.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Baltimore, the City with Potential

Jessica Crispin (founder of Bookslut) writes at The Smart Set about how well-known creative eras of great cities come about. Where does the spark come from that gives rise to creative communities in certain places, such as  bohemian New York or Paris between the wars? Can this creativity be fostered or does it just happen? Tension, chaos, and coffee shops all seem to be part of the mix. Based on that, I say Baltimore has big potential.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Poe's Funerals

How can I have written a blog on books in Baltimore for a month and not yet mentioned Edgar Allen Poe? Read "Nevermoreland" by Abigail Deutsch at the Poetry Foundation website. Now I've done my Poe duty for the month.