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Why I Love Our District of Literature

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The following is a guest post by staffer and blogger Caitlin Rizzo, who is on vacation this week.

My family has a long history in Washington, D.C. My maternal grandmother and grandfather spent their early years as a family in Anacostia; my paternal grandfather was an Emmy-winning TV news editor for the local Fox 5 station. Though both of my parents’ families moved to the Maryland suburbs in the early 1960s, and I grew up there, D.C. has long been the place I consider home.

In many ways, D.C. is not just the backdrop but the impetus for my love of literature. I went to my first readings here — at Busboys and Poets and later Politics and Prose. I saw local writers like Richard McCann, Kyle Dargan, Joshua Weiner, and Sandra Beasley. When I moved to Petworth, my first neighborhood in the city proper, I was excited to visit the house of Zora Neale Hurston just a couple of streets over on Sherman Avenue. And I can’t tell you the excitement I felt reading the stories of Edward P. Jones and recognizing my neighborhood, my metro stops, my buses! They made me want to read more, to see more of the lives of the people around me.

That’s why I’m so excited for the Poetry and Literature Center’s biggest event of the fall, District of Literature. This one-day celebration will consist of free readings, discussions, and panels celebrating the District of Columbia’s literary past, present, and future. District of Literature marks a coming together of the Center with its prestigious literary neighbors, the Folger Shakespeare Library and the PEN/Faulkner Foundation, and with the media support of Slate magazine. It will feature a whole host of local writers and organizations, and rumor is it might end with a dance party to boot!

A festival website and announcement of all its programs is forthcoming, but for now I hope everyone will mark the calendars for September 30th. On that date — a little over a week after our great National Book Festival — we welcome you to come celebrate the creativity and passion of our city.