William Shakespeare

Kondwani Fidel opens up about his viral essay and giving a voice to black experiences in Baltimore

Kondwani Fidel opens up about his viral essay and giving a voice to black experiences in Baltimore

Growing up, Kondwani Fidel Russell said it was common to learn about a particular type of literature or poetry in school. Authors like William Shakespeare and Robert Frost often set the bar, but for a kid growing up in Baltimore, they weren’t always relatable, Russell said.

“They're amazing,” the East Baltimore writer and poet said while sitting outside a cafe on Charles Street recently, “but that's all we were taught.”

Instead, Russell, now 24, looked to music and lyrics by hip-hop artists like Jay-Z, Tupac Shakur, and J. Cole, and the late songstress Amy Winehouse. Later, with the guidance of a college professor, he delved into the works of Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou...

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