“We should throw a festival.”
The concept was simple – founders Diana Forgione and Dig Reeder felt that a festival could fill the noticeable void preventing so many local writers from accessing an artistic outlet. The next two weeks were spent trying to come up with a name before settling on Death Rattle – the reverberation of raw spoken word and the importance of literary arts. That impetus has now grown beyond an annual festival and into a community for young adults, people of color, and queer-identifying individuals to gather and access an artistic outlet for their work.
Death Rattle Writers Festival takes place every year in the fall, spanning four days and five venues in downtown Nampa, Idaho. This year’s festival is October 6-9 and brings a lineup packed with both distinguished and rising artists, like keynote poet Serena Chopra and feature artists Quenton Baker, Jayy Dodd, Indrani Sengupta, Robert Lashley, Rachael Jensen, and Mike Young. The festival is curated to represent writers in all career phases, bringing in notable names to share the stage with artists who may be sharing their work publically for the very first time.
An approachable yet serious festival, Death Rattle has found momentum while still providing a platform for writers in the Treasure Valley and beyond. In four years, the festival has nearly doubled in size every year and has grown to encompass additional mediums, like hip-hop shows and – new this year – the first ever book fair, which will feature comics, zines, novels and prints.
The festival kicks off on Thursday, October 5 with The Spill, a live storytelling event where the audience tells a story based off a poem, followed by poetry readings from Quenton Baker and others at Flying M in Nampa. Later in the evening, PreFunk will host Flash Fiction with ten different artists.
Friday’s events begin at Nampa Library with poetry from Rachel Jensen, Indrani Sengupta and more. PreFunk will host improv haiku night before G1RL CR3W and Gay Sports take the stage for the first night of hip-hop at Lloyd Square.
On Saturday, hit up PreFunk for the book fair and get your fix of new, interesting reading material starting at noon. At Nampa Library, esteemed poet and author Mike Young will teach a workshop on how to perform poetry (even if you’re shy), followed by Motherland: Refugee Stories at Flying M and poetry readings at Lloyd Square. Saturday night is also night two of the hip-hop showcase with Fresh Produce and Cauzndefx, plus poetry readings.
The fest continues on Sunday with one-act plays and LGBTQIA stories at Lloyd Square, and commences with Lit A.F., featuring numerous artists at Pete’s Tavern.
The festival is just one piece of what Death Rattle is up to. As an organization, the crew works year-round to “cultivate opportunity and inspiration for aspiring writers” by hosting free workshops, haiku nights at PreFunk, live storytelling at Flying M, and small house shows in the summer, which allow new readers to feel more comfortable reading their work.
While Death Rattle looks toward the future, they hope to secure a permanent location in downtown Nampa and become a more stable resource for publishing, writing help, and free workshops.
Death Rattle is about cultivating writers and providing an outlet to those that may not yet be connected in the literary world but have something to say and thoughts to share. Death Rattle exists to create “an inspiring and atmospheric outlet for local artists and marginalized communities” to “foster an accessible, diverse and experimental literary community, benefiting participants and spectators alike.”
Check out what’s happening at the 2017 festival on their website.
Photos by Adam Rubinstein