Expired: Montana Book Festival: Invigorating a good thing

Readers and writers converge in Missoula Sept. 10-12


Authors from across the U.S. gather in Missoula Sept. 10-12 for the 2015 Montana Book Festival. Literary events include a tribute to the late Ivan Doig, a Pie and Whiskey reading, a rejection open mic, and a live podcast. The Missoula Public Library is sponsoring a concurrent three-day children’s festival.

This year’s roster of writers includes Jeffery Renard Allen, Kate Bolick, Allison Hedge Coke, Tami Haaland, Smith Henderson, Sarah Hepola, Stephen Graham Jones, Melissa Kwansy, J. Robert Lennon, D.A. Powell, Sharma Shields, Ed Skoog, Annick Smith, John Valliant and more than 150 others.

The festival has partnered with Tell Us Something, Open Country Reading Series, the Missoula Writing Collaborative, Big Sky Film Festival, Montana Public Radio, and other organizations to feature standout events like an evening with Ira Glass, creator of “This American Life,” a screening of “Hot Type: 150 Years of The Nation,” and an author’s luncheon with Smith Henderson. Long-time festival favorites are also on tap, including the Poetry Slam and the Writers and Readers Party.

For 15 years, Missoula’s literary festival – the Montana Festival of the Book – was coordinated by Humanities Montana staff. Now a new group of dedicated book-lovers has come together to make sure the festival continues, and to reinvigorate the event.

Their first order of business was a new name: Montana Book Festival. Coordinator Rachel Mindell has a vision for this year’s festival. “We’re hoping to honor the festival’s history,” she said, “while also introducing fresh and diversified programming. We’re lucky to be able to build on the foundation created by Humanities Montana. We’re also excited to push forward with new ideas.”

The Montana Book Festival is mainly a grassroots effort powered by individual volunteers, as well as organizations such as Shakespeare & Company, Fact and Fiction bookstores, Mountain Press, the Missoula Cultural Council, Humanities Montana, the Missoula Art Museum, Submittable, and Missoula Community Access Television.

In order to generate essential funding, the festival launched a twenty-day Kickstarter campaign on Aug. 5, which raised more than $5,500. Those funds will pay for author travel, fees associated with registering the Montana Book Festival as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, and other festival expenses.

Many authors and community members have contributed unique backer rewards to the campaign. For instance, Chérie Newman, producer of the radio program The Write Question, is offering three

backers an opportunity to sit in on a studio author interview and Ponderosa authors Carl Fiedler and Stephen F. Arno will take backers on a hike to discuss “the west’s most iconic tree.”

A final list of authors and a schedule of events is available at the festival’s website www.montanabookfestival.org.