Friday-Saturday: Claudia Rankine at City Lit Fest

April 15-16

Be it high-minded intellectual stuff or more down-to-earth pop art, the art that feels the most "right now" and appropriate for this moment in U.S. history—in which American racism and police abuse power will no longer be ignored—tends to be fractured, tangential, and distracted. Think: Beyoncé's 'Formation,' Marlon James' "A Brief History of Seven Killings," Kendrick Lamar's blunted jazz-rap, King Texas' "BLACKNESS" photo series, just to name a few. Perhaps the most of-the-moment is poet Claudia Rankine's 2014 book, "Citizen: An American Lyric"—part immersive fiction, part cultural criticism, part poetry, part art book, and part laundry list of white microaggressions. My favorite "Citizen" chapter begins by discussing YouTube comedian Hennessy Youngman, a character created by Jayson Musson which picks apart and parodies white expectations of blackness and then dives into a headspinning exploration of tennis great Serena Williams and the racism she has endured. It's a stunning, hard-to-shake book. Rankine will make two appearances at City Lit Fest: A reading and conversation with Marc Steiner on Friday evening; and a reading, conversation, and Q&A session on Saturday morning with Dew More Baltimore. The rest of City Lit Fest, which includes appearances by D. Watkins, Lester Spence, Kathy Flann, and Danielle Shapiro takes place on Saturday April 16 at the University of Baltimore Learning Commons at (1415 Maryland Ave.) and the University of Baltimore Student Center (12 W. Mt. Royal Ave.). 7 p.m. April 15 at Maryland Institute College of Art, Brown Center, 1301 W. Mt. Royal Ave., and 10:30 a.m. April 16 at Enoch Pratt Free Library Pennsylvania Avenue Branch, 1531 North Ave.; (410) 274-5691,, free. (Brandon Soderberg)

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