For this episode of Conversations Nancy Murray interviews writer/publisher Gregg Wilhelm.
Gregg Wilhelm is a lifelong resident of Baltimore; born in Hampden and currently residing in the Patterson Park area. In addition to being the Director of Marketing and Development for the School of Professional Studies at Maryland Institute College of Art, Gregg is also a writer, publisher, and the founder of City Lit project, a nonprofit literary arts organization, active since 2004.
Wilhelm has served as an editor, designer, production manager and a publisher for independent presses, including the Johns Hopkins University Press and the Citylit Press which he launched in 2010. He is an integral part of the team responsible for the highly acclaimed, annual Citylit Festival which has been showcasing prize-winning authors since 2004.
Gregg has been named “One to Watch” by Urbanite Magazine, 40 under 40 by Baltimore Business Journal and an Arts MVP by Baltimore. Gregg serves on the board of directors for Poe Baltimore, charged with preserving, interpreting, and promoting the author’s legacy in Baltimore and beyond. Gregg recently edited, with Gerry LaFemina, Clash by Night, the first in a lo-fi poetry series published by The Citylit Press. The interview was conducted in Baltimore on March 20, 2016.
The inaugural season of Woodholme House Publishers rolled out in the fall of 1997. Gregg Wilhelm, Director and Editor-in-Chief; Julianna Wood and Anna Burgard of Bibelot; co-publishers Brian Weese and Liz Weese; photographer Harry Connolly; Kevin KAL Kallaugher, editorial cartoonist for The Sun and The Economist; Rafael Alvarez, author of The Fountain of Highlandtown; Stephen Vicchio, author of Ivan & Adolf: The Last Man in Hell.Gregg and his wife Marik at the equator in Uganda in 2007.
Gregg published the first book of fiction from long-time Sun reporter Rafael Alvarez in 1997. The pair are planning a 20th anniversary edition of The Fountain if Highlandtown. Photo by Bill Hughes.
As an adjunct professor, Gregg spent 2007-2011 at his alma mater Loyola University Maryland teaching book publishing and creative writing courses while directing the student-managed press, Apprentice House.
Gregg once served as Director of Marketing for the Babe Ruth Museum and Sports Legends at Camden Yards, where he hung out with lots of odd birds. Gregg also serves as Director of Marketing and Enrollment Development at the Maryland Institute College of Art’s Open Studies division, which manages community education for lifelong learners, professional practice courses for working creatives, Young People’s Studios, summer travel programs, and a suite of four unique professional graduate programs.
During five residencies over two years (2012-2014) at the University of Tampa’s new MFA in Creative Writing program, local Irish joint Four Green Fields became the pub of choice.
In summer 2015, Gregg ventured to Portugal as part of the Internal Literary Program in Lisbon, coordinated by Dzanc Books. He is pictured here with the cohort of writers who studied with Stefan Kiesbye from Sonoma State University (back row, right).
In June 2014 at MICA’s Brown Center, CityLit chair Bunky Markert, founding chair Chic Dambach, and founder Gregg Wilhelm celebrated CityLit Project’s 10th anniversary. At the special event, the nonprofit unveiled the Chic Dambach Award for Service to the Literary Arts.
Gregg Wilhelm, former Sun reporter M. Dion Thompson, and Edward P. Jones pose at the first CityLit Festival. After the Baltimore Book Festival was cancelled in 2003, and a revamped literary event snowed out in December that year, the inaugural festival in April 2004 coincided with Jones winning the Pulitzer Prize for The Known World.
The region’s literary artists are central to the CityLit Festival, and in 2008 Manil Suri (The Age of Shiva), Laura Lippman (Another Thing to Fall), and Dan Fesperman (The Amateur Spy) were featured. Pictured here with director Gregg Wilhelm and interviewer Tom Hall.
Hundreds pack Wheeler Auditorium at Enoch Pratt Free Library in 2009 to hear Pulitzer Prize winning author Junot Díaz, who won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction the previous year for The Brief Wondrous Life of
Gregg Wilhelm, George Saunders, and host and WYPR radio personality Tom Hall at the 10th annual CityLit Festival in April 2013. That previous January, The New York Times declared Saunders’s The Tenth of December “the best book you’ll read this year.At CityLit—Poet Afaa Michael Weaver. Weaver grew up in East Baltimore and labored in factories while working on his writing. The most recent accolades for this Simmons College professor are the prestigious 2014 Kingsley-Tufts Award and the 2015 Phyllis Wheatley Award from the Harlem Book Fair. WYPR personality and frequent CityLit Festival host Tom Hall chats with author James McBride in 2014. McBride was the 2013 National Book Award winner for The Good Lord Bird.Paul Rusesabagina, former manager of the Hôtel des Mille Colline who actor Don Cheadle portrayed in Hotel Rwanda, debuts his memoir An Ordinary Man at the third annual CityLit Festival in 2006. Unexpected numbers of people descended on Pratt Library for this particular program during the festival.
Dick Allen, the Poet Laureate of Connecticut, reads at the CityLit Festival in 2012. Dick judged the second annual Harriss Poetry Prize, a chapbook competition named in honor of acclaimed poet, Towson University professor, and independent publisher, Clarinda Harriss. CityLit Festival provides new and first-time authors an unprecedented venue for unveiling their books. In 2009, those authors included Elissa Weissman (Standing for Socks), Ben Shaberman (The Vegan Monolgues), Susan McCallum-Smith (Slipping the Moorings), Eric D. Goodman (Tracks), Jessica Anya Blau (The Summer of Naked Swim Parties), with moderator Nancy Johnston, who at the time moderated the Read Street blog at The Sun.A special feature of CityLit Festival is the Literary Marketplace, where literary organizations, journals, providers of editorial and publishing services, and self-published authors get to showcase themselves and their literary art. Before The Crossover earned Kwame Alexander a Newbury Award for distinguished contribution to American literature for children and a star of the YA crowd, he stopped by CityLit Festival to talk about writing for young readers. Before The Fault of Our Stars turned John Green into a star of the YA (young adult) crowd and beyond, he stopped by CityLit Festival to promote Looking for Alaska and talk writing for young readers. Mountain Goats frontman and National Book Award finalist John Darnielle (Wolf in White Van) talks about the art of writing and the art of music with Gregg Wilhelm. In 2007, at the fourth festival, Pratt Library CEO Dr. Carla Hayden joined CityLit founder Gregg Wilhelm and author Connie Brisco and photographer Michael Cunningham who discussed their book, Jewels: 50 Phenomenal Black Women Over 50. CityLit Project also conducted various writers workshops that were branded as “Write Here, Write Now,” and held frequently at Creative Alliance. A “best of” compilation of writers’ work from the workshops was published in the book Freshly Squeezed, which debuted at CityLit Festival in 2008. Sports are a strong component to Baltimore life and, over the years, CityLit Festival has featured several authors of new sports books. In 2008, former Sun columnist John Eisenberg talked about My Guy Barbaro, which he co-wrote with jockey Edgar Prado.