The Festival of the Book never has an official theme, only a drive to connect people with the written word.
And so on Friday, Oct. 10, the 15th annual event will be spread across downtown Missoula, in galleries, movie theaters and more. Authors of novels, poetry, memoirs and nonfiction will fan out to eight different venues to share their work, instead of staying concentrated in the Holiday Inn Downtown.
“We’re just trying to spread it around and get all over downtown,” said Kim Anderson, Humanities Montana’s assistant director of programs.
Just a few examples include the Radius Gallery, where local poets will read their work and celebrate esteemed Montana author James Welch with a backdrop of original art inspired by his poetry. (See related story.)
At the Dana Gallery, local authors and musicians with Missoula chamber-folk group Stellarondo will perform surrounded by the venue’s annual “Young Guns” show, which highlights young painters.
At the Roxy Theatre, photographer Steve Gnam will discuss “Crown of the Continent,” a book that pairs his images of Glacier National Park with essays by local residents.
Former Missoulian reporter Joe Nickell will present his book, “Tainted Revelations: The Art of Bill Ohrmann,” at Fact and Fiction.
“I think it’s a really good mix of different genres and kinds of presentations,” Anderson said. For a complete schedule, go to humanitiesmontana.org.
The third annual Festival Poetry Slam will close out the evening at Stage 112, hosted by Tahj Kjelland.
On Saturday, Oct. 11, the festival will reconvene at the Holiday Inn Downtown for a slew of panels for readers of any interest, whether it’s tips from local romance author Danica Winters on getting your name in print; how to edit an anthology; or sage advice on how veteran authors develop their personal narratives into a memoir.
Anderson said the defining factor each year is new work and trends in the publishing industry.
“Last year, we had this new partnership with Christian romance writers. It wasn’t really a world I knew much about,” Anderson said.
Authors from the region who’ve all released new books in the past year to strong reviews will sit down for a panel called “West With A Twist: A Discussion of Western Novels.” They include Malcolm Brooks, David Allan Cates, Pete Fromm, Bruce Holbert and Carrie LaSeur.
This year, they’re adding a surreal, looping theatrical installation by Missoula artist Theo Ellsworth and writer Josh Wagner. (The piece premiered at the Zootown Fringe Festival in the fall, and also has an accompanying graphic novel.)
“We’re always trying to look for ways we can connect people with the written word,” Anderson said, seeking a variety that avoids the talking head format.
The festival’s gala reading will be held as always at the Wilma Theatre.
With a “fast-moving,” celebratory atmosphere, authors Brooks, Fromm, Rick Bass, David James Duncan, Tami Haaland, Walter Kirn, William Kittredge and Annick Smith will take the stage for a celebration of Western literature and discuss what it means to them.
Stellarondo will serve as house band, helping to mark the 15th anniversary of the event.
Some of those authors were there for the first Festival of the Book.
While literary festivals were a relatively new concept, Anderson said they had quite a turnout: 3,000 over the course of two days.
Full festival calendar:
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 8
5:30 p.m. Standing Together A reading and discussion program designed for veterans, facilitated by Lisa Simon and Micah Fields, Bayern Brewery, 1507 Montana St., FREE
7 p.m. Wilderness and the Human Imagination Experience untamed landscapes through the literary lens of Environmental Studies and Master of Fine Arts graduate students from the University of Montana. Writers will share poetry and prose that navigate the wild within and around us all. This event is sponsored by Camas Environmental Literary magazine, edited by Emily Withnall and Nick Triolo, and in collaboration with Cutbank Magazine, Mansfield Library, UM campus, FREE
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 9
1 p.m. How to Write Your Best Book Have you always wanted to write a novel but have no idea where to start? Have you started a book(s) but have yet to finish? Or have you written a book but there is something missing? This is the workshop for you. In this session, bestselling romance author Danica Winters will be going through the step-by-step process of creating a book that will attract a publisher’s attention. Please come ready to be taken to the next level of your writing career! Montgomery Distillery, 129 West Front St., FREE
6 p.m. Tell Us Something A celebration of live storytelling, in partnership with The Big Read and the Missoula Public Library, Top Hat Lounge, 124 West Front St., FREE
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 10
10:30 a.m. Tainted Revelations: The Work of Bill Ohrmann Author Joe Ashbrook Nickell maps out the broad landscape of Ohrmann’s oeuvre. Part biography, part meditation, Nickell’s text is coupled with more than 90 color reproductions of Ohrmann’s work, eloquently illuminating the artist’s singular worldview and impassioned concern for the plight of oppressed souls – human and otherwise – of this earth. Fact & Fiction, 220 N. Higgins Ave., FREE
11:30 a.m. Festival Lunch with James Lee Burke and William Marcus Enjoy a special lunch prepared by the Top Hat while Montana Public Radio director William Marcus interviews James Lee Burke about his new novel Wayfaring Stranger. The Top Hat Lounge, $35
1 p.m. The Life and Legends of Calamity Jane Scores of dime novels and movie and TV Westerns have portrayed this original Wild West woman as an adventuresome, gun-toting hellion. Author Richard Etulain traces the real person from the Missouri farm where she was born in 1856 through the development of her notorious persona as a Wild West heroine. Roxy Theater, 718 S. Higgins Ave., FREE
1 p.m. Caffeinated Murray Carpenter reveals the little-known truth about this addictive, largely unregulated drug found in coffee, energy drinks, teas, colas, chocolate, and even pain relievers. Montgomery Distillery, 129 West Front St., FREE
2:30 p.m. Crown of the Continent Through photographs by Steve Gnam and essays by locals who know and love the Rocky Mountains intimately, Crown of the Continent explores the surprising connections between culture, history, communities, and the great outdoors in one of the world’s most majestic regions. Roxy Theater, 718 S. Higgins Ave., FREE
2:30 p.m. Off the Path: An Anthology of New Native American Writing A collection of Montana’s top contemporary American Indian writing talent, the Off the Path anthology’s contributors and editor will read and discuss new voices in literature. Roxy Theater, 718 S. Higgins Ave., FREE
2:30 p.m. Wind & Bones: An Interartistic Tribute to James Welch The poetry of Montana writer James Welch was once described as having a lot of “wind and bones” in it. It’s an idea that intrigued us, suggesting, at once, strength, energy and sparseness. We offered this provocative concept to visual artists in Montana and asked them to respond. Opening remarks (and the story behind the “wind and bones” quote) will be presented by Lois Welch. Readers include: Robert Reid, Neil McMahon, Kim Anderson, David Cates, Joseph Grady, and [insert your name here!] RSVP with Lisa to share your favorite Welch passage: Lisa.email@example.com Radius Gallery, 114 East Main St., FREE
2:30 p.m. Creative Reading Ursula LeGuin once said, “The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it live: a live thing, a story.” Join us as Charles Finn and David Allen Cates read from their work and artists R. David Wilson and Caleb Meyers, calligrapher Amity Parks, poet Sheryl Noethe, and members of the musical group Stellarondo respond imaginatively to the writers’ work, making it come to life before our eyes. Discover for yourselves how responding creatively to your own reading can deepen and enliven your experience. Dana Gallery, 246 N. Higgins Ave., FREE
4 p.m. Montana Beer Nearly 40 craft breweries span the Treasure State, and the quality of their output rivals the best craft beer produced anywhere in the country. Maybe it’s because there’s also a little piece of Montana in every glass, as the state’s brewers pride themselves on using cold mountain water and locally sourced barley harvested from Montana’s ample fields. From grain to glass, Ryan Newhouse tells the story of the brewers and breweries that make the Treasure States brew so special. Top Hat Lounge, 134 West Front St., FREE
4:30 p.m. Standing Together, a writing workshop for veterans, Buttercup Café, 1221 Helen, FREE
5:30 p.m. READERS and WRITERS RECEPTION at Radius Gallery Please join us at the beautiful new Radius Gallery for hors d’oeuvres and refreshments and a chance to meet new authors and see old friends! Radius Gallery, 114 East Main St., Ticket price: $25
7:30 p.m. POETRY SLAM at Stage 112 The sixth annual Festival poetry throwdown: Go three rounds and earn the glory that comes with being a Festival Slam Champ! With special guest judges and Master of Ceremony Tahj Kjelland. Stage 112, 112 N. Pattee St., FREE
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 11
9:30 a.m. How To Get Your Name in Print The goal of every author is to see their name in print. In the days of the explosion of self-publishing, for the first time, the power is in the authors’ hands. We now have the choice of when, how, what, and where our words are distributed. In this hour-long lecture by award-winning and bestselling author Danica Winters, you will explore the business of publishing and what to expect regardless of whether you choose to traditionally publish or step down the self-publishing path. Holiday Inn Ballroom A/B, FREE
9:30 a.m. The French Cook–Souffles Soufflés are light and airy, flavored baked dishes with a creamy texture. And Greg Patent has been baking them for decades. Greg and his photographer, Kelly Gorham talk about the process of creating this book and the delicate art of creating souffles. Holiday Inn Ballroom D, FREE
9:30 a.m. Raptors in the Rockies Kate Davis and her raptors will be back at the Holiday Inn where Kate will discuss her latest educational work and two new books on raptors. Holiday Inn Boardroom, FREE
11 a.m. Searching for the Story: Nonfiction Panel Brian Kevin (The Footloose American), Murray Carpenter (Caffeinated), and Peter Stark (Astoria) discuss their latest nonfiction projects and the impulse to follow a story wherever it may go. Holiday Inn Ballroom A/B, FREE
11 a.m. Mystery Mark A looping theatrical installation that incorporates the main characters and themes of the book of the same name with actors, masks, and puppets. Holiday Inn Yellowstone/Glacier Rooms, FREE
11 a.m. How We Live Now: New Fiction Panel One of the most honored novelistic traditions is that of using the form to observe and dissect contemporary mores and issues. Four novelists K.M. Cholewa (Shaking Out the Dead), Gwen Florio (Dakota), Keith McCafferty (The Gray Ghost Murders), and Peter Mountford (The Dismal Science) discuss how their work and the modern world interact. Holiday Inn Madison/Gallatin/Jefferson Rooms. FREE
1 p.m. West With A Twist: A Discussion of Western Literature Five novelists working in the long tradition of Western storytelling talk about their latest work and each discusses his or her relationship with the concept of Western Literature. The panel features Malcolm Brooks (Painted Horses), David Allen Cates (Tom Connor’s Gift), Pete Fromm (If Not For This), Bruce Holbert (The Hour of Lead) and Carrie LaSeur (The Home Place). Holiday Inn Ballroom A/B FREE
1 p.m. 150th Anniversary of the Montana Territory The authors (Ken Egan (Montana 1864) and Aaron Parret (Montana Then and Now)) of two new books that each examine Montana at its birth as a territory discuss their findings. Holiday Inn Ballroom D FREE
1 p.m. That Dream Shall Have A Name David L. Moore, in his authoritative new study, examines the works of five well-known Native American writers and their efforts, beginning in the colonial period, to redefine an “America” and “American identity” that includes Native Americans. Holiday Inn Boardroom FREE
1 p.m. Mystery Mark A looping theatrical installation that incorporates the main characters and themes of the book of the same name with actors, masks, and puppets. Holiday Inn Yellowstone/Glacier Rooms FREE
1 p.m. Montana Magazines A discussion of new trends in periodical publishing with representatives from Whitefish Review, Montana Quarterly, Mamalode, and Geekpuff. Madison/Gallatin/Jefferson Rooms FREE
2:30 p.m. It’s Not You, It’s Me: Memoir Panel Sometimes memoir uses the personal prism to see a new reflection of truth. Sometimes what happens to you is just plain interesting. Five authors talk about how they’ve used personal narrative with Bryce Andrews (Badluck Way), Walter Kirn (Blood Will Out), Frances Kuffel (Love Sick), Molly Caro May (The Map of Enough) and Elissa Washuta (My Body is a Book of Rules). Holiday Inn Ballroom A/B FREE
2:30 p.m. These Living Songs: A Celebration of Montana Poetry A new collection of essays encourages the general public to closely read Montana poetry. Join Co-Editor Brady Harrison and contributors as they discuss Montana poets. Holiday Inn Ballroom D FREE
2:30 p.m. Deep Listening Charles Finn, Gary Hawk and Candace Crosby discuss how deep listening in their chosen landscape informs their writing, where a stance of receptivity, relationship, meeting, patience and discovery prevail. Holiday Inn Boardroom. FREE
2:30 p.m. Mystery Mark A looping theatrical installation that incorporates the main characters and themes of the book of the same name with actors, masks, and puppets. Holiday Inn Yellowstone/Glacier Rooms FREE
4 p.m. The Art of Collection: Editing Anthologies What makes a good anthology or collection of essays? Four editors of recent collections discuss how they decide what to include, what goes where, and the popularity of these compilations. Holiday Inn Ballroom A/B FREE
4 p.m. The Mysteries of A.B. Guthrie Late in his life A.B. Guthrie Jr. wrote a series of four mystery novels set in a small Montana town, not unlike Choteau. In these books — the first described in a New York Times book review as “tightly plotted, beautifully worked-out”- Guthrie evokes a small-town ambiance through word portraits of local characters. He also returns to favorite themes of his fiction and nonfiction writing — environmental issues, corporate greed, Indian-white relations, and the importance of community. This panel will discuss these aspects of Guthrie’s novels and their place in Montana fiction and mystery writing Holiday Inn Ballroom D FREE
4 p.m. How To Read the American West The author discusses his innovative field guide which includes stories, photographs, maps, and diagrams on one hundred landscape features across the American West including natural landscapes, farms and ranches, places of special cultural identity, and cities and suburbs. Holiday Inn Boardroom FREE
7:30 p.m. 15th Anniversary Gala Reading Join Festival favorites William Kittredge, Annick Smith, Rick Bass, David James Duncan, poet laureate Tami Haaland, nationally acclaimed authors Malcolm Brooks, Pete Fromm, and Walter Kirn, for a celebration of the literature of the west. Wilma Theater FREE