If you live in the Baltimore area and haven’t been to the Baltimore Book Festival you are seriously missing out. For those of you familiar with the Baltimore area you have probably been down to the Inner Harbor. Spots like the National Aquarium, the USS Constellation and the Mecu Pavilion are common stops for tourists. But those that live more locally know that there is almost always some sort of event happening down by the water.
This year the festival was held September 28-30 near the Maryland Science Center. The Baltimore Book Festival is a three-day event featuring over 100 exhibitors, book signings, interviews, readings, kid’s activities, live music, food, beer, wine and, as the title would suggest, books. Lots and lots of books. Everything from the latest James Patterson to 20th century hardcover reference books. But the highlight of the weekend for anybody affiliated with Stevenson was The University Writers Program at the Ivy Bookstore tent at 3 o’clock.
Every year the Ivy Bookstore hosts what they call The University Writers Program. They invite two students from all the local universities to come and read a unique piece. It can be anything from fiction to poetry as long as it was written by the speaker. This year senior Ryan Roche and May 2018 graduate Hannah Humphries were chosen to represent Stevenson at the event.
Ryan read a combination of two short stories he wrote during his time at Stevenson so far. This story opened with the witty and sarcastic inner monologue of the main character as he escapes out a second story window from the bedroom of an ex-girlfriend as her current boyfriend drunkenly makes his way up the stairs. As the piece continues the listener follows the same witty and sarcastic inner monologue as the main character narrates the events that lead to him escaping his home town. While the humor was dry and dark the overall feel of the work was lighthearted.
Hannah Humphries' piece, in contrast, had a significantly different mood. Her lyrical essay told the story of a speaker reliving their experience of having a girlfriend commit suicide. She opened the piece, innocently enough, describing a cloudy day lying on a hillside watching the clouds with this girl. But as she continued the imagery and storyline became darker and much sadder until the very end where the speaker finds their loved one dead. This piece moved the entire crowd as we held onto her every-last word, hoping that what we knew would happen somehow just wouldn’t. Hannah’s command of language and storyline was impressive to behold.
Congratulations to Ryan and Hannah for a job, more than, well done. And for those interested in attending the festival next year, I highly recommend you do. You can find more information on the festival website baltimorebookfestival.com. Come out, support, and have fun.