Last spring, as I was preparing to launch Read Street, I stopped by the Enoch Pratt central library on a warm Saturday for the annual CityLit Festival. The lobby -- filled with local writers and poets, as well as representatives of journals, publishing houses and literary organizations -- had an amazing energy.

Amazing because on most days, the Baltimore area's literary community is split into bits and pieces: lectures, books clubs, poetry readings and author appearances (as noted on Read Street's calendar). But the CityLit Festival, like the fall Baltimore Book Festival, brings lots of those pieces together to create a critical literary mass. It was an inspiring sight -- and a good omen for the blog.

You don't have to wait long for the 2009 festival — it runs 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Pratt, and features Junot Diaz, who won a Pulitzer Prize for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Other writers include Mark Doty, whose poetry won a 2008 National Book Award; Liza Mundy, author of a Michelle Obama biography; Jennifer Baszile, author of The Black Girl Next Door; and poets Michael Collier and Elizabeth Spires.

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There also is a full slate of panels, on topics ranging from publishing to cooking to youth sports. At 1:30 p.m., I'll lead a discussion of book reviews, blogging and other issues related to "What's Becoming of Our Book Culture?" Also at 1:30 p.m., Read Street partner Nancy Johnston will moderate a panel of new authors, including Jessica Anya Blau and Elissa Brent Weissman.

So drop by the festival and say hello. Even better: Come to Mick O'Shea's (just around the corner on Charles St.) at 4:30 p.m. for the First Annual Read Street Meetup. It's our version of high tea -- a chance for Nancy and me to meet the folks who visit Read Street.

Other literary events: The Bethesda Literary Festival runs from Friday to Sunday, and featured authors include Mary Higgins Clark, Daniel Schorr, Gwen Ifill and Kimberly Dozier.

The West Virginia Book Faire is Friday and Saturday in Martinsburg. Among the featured authors are mystery writers Harlan Coben and Lisa Scottoline.

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