Tyler Mendelsohn Interviews Author D. Watkins about his Upcoming Writers Panel at the Baltimore Book Festival
At 4PM on Saturday, September 24th at the Baltimore Book Festival, D. Watkins, an award-winning Baltimore author, will host a panel at The Ivy Bookshop Stage. During this panel, Watkins will introduce three performers—Tariq Toure, Kondwani Fidel, and Fire Angelou—who are part of a new generation of Baltimore writers and artists. I asked him a few questions about what defines this new generation, and what to expect at the panel.
Can you briefly describe the work of each of the three writers you chose for your panel?
Tariq Toure’s book Black Seeds just won Best Poetry Book in the City Paper. Toure is talented, he’s dynamic, he’s put in a whole lot of work, and he’s always trying to be better. I’m happy to play a role in his career, and I’m looking forward to seeing the success that he becomes.
Kondwani Fidel is an up and coming poet. Of all the performers I’ve seen—not just in Baltimore, but all over the country—he’s one of the most powerful and moving I’ve ever seen touch a mic.
I mentor Fire Angelou; I actually mentor all of these writers. Fire Angelou just made her debut as a journalist in the City Paper. I’m proud of her and inspired by her work. She’s brave, and she challenges systems in a way they don’t often get challenged.
How would you define this new generation of writers? What qualities do you see in them?
They’re hardworking, they’re talented, they’re fearless. You can’t tell them something and expect them to just listen to it without thinking; they have their own thoughts and their own ideas. They’re changing the world, and I’m very proud of them. I want to support them and make sure they keep growing.
All three of the writers are activists. How do you think activism informs writing, and vice versa?
As a Black artist, you almost don’t get a chance to not have an element of activism in your work. You’re oppressed every day. Even people who like to joke around are still going to experience systemic racism, so that is going to show up in their work. You write about what you know. Every Black person knows racism.
What can the audience expect to hear at the panel? Will Fire Angelou, Kondwani Fidel and Tariq Toure read some of their work?
The three performing artists are going to go first, and I’m coming to come after them with a reading from The Beast Side. Then there will be a moderated question & answer panel.
The audience is going to laugh; they may cry. It’s going to be entertaining, and they’re going to have a great time.
D. Watkins is an award-winning Baltimore author whose work has been published in The New York Times, Salon, The Guardian, Rolling Stone, and more. He is the author of The Cook Up: A Crack Rock Memoir and The Beast Side: Living (and Dying) While Black in America.
The Ivy Bookshop offers a wide and wonderful range of books, including both The Cook Up and The Beast Side. At the Book Festival, The Ivy Bookshop Stage will host a number of exciting events. You can check out the full list here: http://www.baltimorebookfestival.com/schedule/location/17/Ivy-Bookshop-Stage
Tyler Mendelsohn is a Baltimore writer and a member of The Ivy Bookshop’s team. You can read more of Tyler’s work here. Tyler has an MFA in Creative Writing and Publishing Arts from the University of Baltimore.
JOIN BMOREART at the BOOK FESTIVAL — You can join BmoreArt’s editor Cara Ober just before this panel on Saturday at 3 pm for an ART BLOGGER PANEL at the same stage with Olivia Obineme, Gabrielle Souza, and Lawrence Burney.