Jane Smiley headlines Montana Book Festival

More than 150 authors congregate in Missoula Sept. 27-Oct. 1 for the book festival

Books & Writers

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jane Smiley joins more than 150 authors at literary events throughout downtown Missoula during the Montana Book Festival, Sept. 27-Oct. 1. Events include readings, author signings, panels, writing workshops, music and dancing, and a book fair.

Jane Smiley
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jane Smiley headlines the Montana Book Festival.Photo © Derek Shapton

Smiley, author of A Thousand Acres, headlines this year’s festival, participating in a number of special events beginning with the fan favorite, Pie and Whiskey, a ticketed event at the Union Club on Thursday, Sept. 28. On Friday, Sept. 29, she joins novelist Donald Ray Pollock for a gala reading at the Holiday Inn; and on Saturday, Sept. 30, she’ll offer a reading and discussion on her new books for young readers at Shakespeare & Company.

Other highlights include: a community poetry reading to commemorate the global event 100,000 Poets for Change; a book fair and exhibitor showcase at The Public House; a reading by New York Times environmental and science writer Jim Robbins from his new book, The Wonder of Birds; a reading by Lowell Jaeger, Montana’s new poet Llaureate; and a celebration of a new collection of suspense fiction, Montana Noir.

”This year’s festival welcomes fresh, new voices into Montana’s time-honored literary landscape, while paying homage to those who paved the way,” says Karla Theilen, 2017 festival director.

A portion of this year’s festival will turn the spotlight on enduring regional authors. Among those offerings: a panel discussion focuses on the lifetime achievements of author and longtime University of Montana Creative Writing director Bill Kittredge; and writers lead panel discussions on The Last Best Place anthology as it celebrates its 30-year anniversary, and on Montana writing since the “the Big Book” was published.

A festival button ($15) is required to attend some events, while many remain free to the public. A full schedule is available online at: montanabookfestival2017.sched.com

Festival highlights:

Wednesday, Sept. 27: National Book Award finalist Sandra Scofield discusses how to shape a novel at the Fact & Fiction A&E Conference Room; Poetry Slam! at E3 Convergence Gallery; and Kick-off Dance with traditional music at the Missoula Senior Center.

Thursday, Sept. 28: Julie Stevenson, a literary agent with New York-based firm Massie & McQuilkin, listens to author pitches and offers publishing advice from 9 a.m.-noon at Fact & Fiction A&E Conference Room; Poet Joni Wallace leads a workshop in writing about art at 9:30 a.m. at the Missoula Art Museum; a panel featuring Submittable co-founder Michael FitzGerald and Warms Springs Productions founders discusses how these Missoula-based creative start-ups grow and thrive from 3:30-4:30 p.m. at Shakespeare & Co.

Friday, Sept. 29: Former Guerrilla Girl Donna Kaz shares her story as a feminist activist at 11:30 a.m. at Missoula Art Museum; Beth Judy, Lorna Milne, and Ken Robison discuss Bold Women and Rebels of the West at 11:30 a.m. at Fact & Fiction; Missoula Writing Collaborative director Caroline Patterson reads from her new story collection, Ballet at the Moose Lodge, at noon at the Dana Gallery; Jane Little Botkin reads from her new book, Frank Little and the IWW, which tells the story of her great grand uncle, Frank Little, a labor organizer and free-speech advocate who was lynched in Butte, 1 p.m. at Fact & Fiction.

Saturday, Sept. 30: Rocky Mountain Mystery Writers talk about writing suspense fiction at 9:30 a.m. at Dana Gallery; Missoula poets, musicians, and artists join others around the world for 100,000 Poets for Change, a demonstration and celebration to promote peace, sustainability and justice, 11 a.m. at the Missoula Art Museum Art Park; and Jamie Harrison (The Widow Nash) and Alexandra Teague (The Principles Behind Flotation) read from their new novels, 4-5 p.m. at Fact & Fiction.

Sunday, Oct. 1: Writers discuss the ins and out of self-publishing at 10 a.m. at Fact & Fiction; three Western-based queer writers discuss transparency in nonfiction writing at 10 a.m. at E3 Convergence Gallery; poet Sarah Vap reads from her work at 2 p.m. at Montgomery Distillery and poets Natalie Peeterse and Philip Shaefer follow at 3:15 p.m. at the Montgomery Distillery.