The Arts Live On at Death Rattle Writer's Festival 

click to enlarge - JR Walsh reading at Death Rattle Writer's Festival -  - HANNE SHARKEY
  • Hanne Sharkey
  • JR Walsh reading at Death Rattle Writer's Festival
Speaking before a large crowd at the Lloyd Building in Nampa Oct. 10, Mike Young recounted meeting a rock in Celebration Park earlier that morning. With his book, Spezzatura, in hand, he mused on people he’d met, including the rock, and the impacts they’d made on his life. At many points, the crowd was asked to shout out certain phrases while he spoke, generating a raucous call-and-response atmosphere.

Young hails from Portland, Ore., and he had come to Nampa to present at the second annual Death Rattle Writer’s Festival held Friday-Sunday, Oct. 8-10, at venues across Nampa. The festival was free and open to the public, and featured a range of literary talents, from budding poets who’d never presented before an audience to well-known authors like Christian Winn and Alan Heathcock.

“We try to make the festival as accessible as possible,” said festival co-founder Dig Reeder. “People who are both aspiring writers and people who are established authors can all learn from each other.”

The festival kicked off Oct. 8 at the Nampa Public Library with a series of poetry and short story readings. The night featured a number of up-and-coming writers from the Treasure Valley, including Conor Harris, a creative writing major at Boise State University, who delivered two slam poetry-style pieces that set an energetic tone for the rest of the evening.

This year, organizers extended the festival by one day to allow for more writers to get a chance to present alongside returning authors. It also extended the range of event topics and themes. Oct. 8, The Flying M Coffeegarage in Nampa hosted “The Spill: Don’t Cry Over Spilt Stories,” a live, open-mic storytelling event. The following evening featured a screening of “Smoke,” a short film directed by Cody Gittings inspired by a short story written by Alan Heathcock. The festival culminated at the Prohibition-era bar known as Pete’s Tavern in historic downtown Nampa Oct. 10.

Reeder and fellow co-founder Diana Forgione set out to provide multiple venues for people to celebrate “the art of the word” in Idaho, from fiction to film to hip-hop.

“We’ve had a great time this year,” said Reeder. “Things have picked up a lot. We were a lot more ambitious with our plans this year and we got a lot more writers involved. We look forward to next year. ”
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