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Baltimore's CityLit Project launches CityLit Press

CityLit Project, the Baltimore-based non-profit that aims to nurture the culture of literature in Baltimore and throughout Maryland, is going into the book publishing business.

The new publishings house, CityLit Press, will offer authors who might otherwise be overlooked by larger publishers due to the literary quality or regional focus of their projects an opportunity to have their work publsihed, says Gregg Wilhelm, founder of CityLit Project.

"[We'll] publish anything that has literary merit or regional purpose. At the end of the day I get to publish anything that strikes me," he continues.

Wilhelm expects to publish two chat books and three other books each year to start, but adds that as the organization grows he hopes to put out more books.

First of the presses is the just released "City Sages: Baltimore" edited by Jen Michalski, an anthology of fiction writing; a chat book (slim volume)from CityLit's first winner of the Clarinda Harriss Poetry Prize and a post-Katrina book from a New Orleans-based poet, according to Wilhelm.

Started in 2004, CityLit Project puts on the CityLit Festival in April and the CityLit stage at the Baltimore Book Festival in September. The organization also conducts a lot of outreach with CityLit Teens and workshops to help adults develop their craft. Wilhelm, who has worked in publishing since 1992, says starting a publishing house was always "in the back of his mind."

"Launching CityLit Press took six years. We had to get [CityLit Project's] feet on the ground and establish a reputation. I don't see CityLit Press any different from CityLit Project, it is part and parcel of that mission, but I knew that it would be a program that would have th emost expenses involved. So, we needed to have a good financial base before we took on those publishing expenses," he explains.

Wilhelm meets the expenses associated with both projects through a variety of city and state grants, and ecently recieved grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Private donations are also a major soruce of support. So, to that end, CityLit Press is hosting a fundraiser tonight, June 22 at Langermann's in Canton where guests will enjoy hors d'oeuvres, beer, wine, and nonalcoholic beverages. Tickets for the event are $40 and available at the door.

The CityLit Press publications will be available on Amazon.com, independent book stores throughout the region, and also at some area Barnes & Noble stores.

Source: Gregg Wilhelm, CityLit Project
Writer: Walaika Haskins
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