Book Festival II

September 25, 1997

ONE PROMOTION for this weekend's Baltimore Book Festival II is a recipe for a mythical ''Festival Melange.'' It goes: Take two days of sunshine, seven storybook characters, 20 poetry readings, 10 arts and crafts, dozens of author signings, etc., put it all together in Mount Vernon Place and serve 35,000 people. That's what happened last year, and it certainly made for an appetizing concoction, even with the occasional sprinkle.

This year's festival should be even better, especially in attendance, as word has spread throughout the region about the first affair. The idea came largely from Bill Gilmore, executive director of the city Office of Promotion, who had enjoyed a book festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. Discovering state officials were also planning a book festival, efforts were combined.

Participants this year will include Pulitzer Prize winner Maxine Kumin, well known for her poetry about land, water, weather and animals, and Toi Derricotte, co-founder of Cave Canem, a workshop retreat for African-American poets. Numerous publishing companies will have booths. There will be musical events, cooking demonstrations, special presentations for children -- all in historic Mount Vernon.

Baltimore is often challenged to prove it is truly ''the city that reads.'' The Book Festival Saturday and Sunday will provide the city a perfect opportunity to show that its literary tradition has not languished.

Pub Date: 9/25/97

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