The Believer Festival is a three-day roving celebration of writing, music, and visual arts. In the heart of the desert of Southern Nevada, established and emerging artists, comedians, literary luminaries, and the Las Vegas arts community come together and divine a creative oasis.
Named one of the most anticipated books of 2017 by Time Magazine, Elle, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, The Millions, and winner of the 2017 Kirkus Prize and the 2017 NYPL Young Lions Fiction Award, What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky is a dazzlingly accomplished debut collection exploring the ties that bind parents and children, husbands and wives, lovers and friends to one another and to the places they call home. Anne Stevens, chair of UNLV’s Department of Interdisciplinary, Gender, & Ethnic Studies, leads a discussion with author and BMI Shearing Fellow Lesley Nneka Arimah for the season’s closing event.
Poet, writer, and cultural critic Hanif Abdurraqib explores the significance of musical acts–from Carly Rae Jepsen and My Chemical Romance to Nina Simone and A Tribe Called Quest–with distinct voice and deep investment. Take part in a lively experience presenting BMI Shearing Fellow Hanif Abdurraqib with his own house band–made up of local musicians–for an evening of poetry and music.
Alissa Nutting, is the author of Tampa, Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls, and Made for Love: A Novel. Nutting, who completed her PhD under a BMI fellowship, returns to UNLV for a reading and discussion. Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls won the Starcherone Prize for Innovative Fiction; Made for Love was named “Best Book of 2017” by GQ, NPR, Huffington Post, Electric Literature, and The New Yorker.
Every two years, the Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute remembers James E. Rogers, the pioneering media entrepreneur and philanthropist, who challenged individuals and institutions to go beyond fixed ideas and cherished truisms. This year, in lieu of a traditional lecture on a weighty subject, BMI offers a live experience to counter the fixed idea—in the minds of many—that Las Vegas is an unserious city of transients and tourism. “The People of Las Vegas” will include a panoply of voices from residents, and an original essay by BMI’s spring 2019 Shearing Fellow Amanda Fortini.
The Black Mountain Institute, The Writer’s Block, and The Believer are proud to present Whiting Award-winning writer, renowned speaker, and criminal justice reform advocate Mitchell S. Jackson. Jackson’s debut autobiographical novel The Residue Years follows Champ Thomas and his mother, Grace, and the cycles of poverty and addiction that surround them. Jackson will discuss his work with interview wizard, Believer editor and BMI Eleanor Kagi Foundation writer-in-residence Niela Orr.
Hieu Minh Nguyen is the author of This Way to the Sugar (Write Bloody Press, 2014) and Not Here (Coffee House Press, 2018). In 2018, Hieu was awarded the Ruth Lily and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. He is also a 2018 McKnight Writing Fellow, a Kundiman Fellow, a 2017 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellow, and a poetry editor for Muzzle Magazine. His work has also appeared in Poetry Magazine, the New York Times, Best American Poetry, the Academy of American Poets, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Minneapolis and attends the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.
Spend an evening with BMI’s fiercely talented PhD Fellows. These nearly-minted doctors write fiction, poetry, and non-fiction that will leave you awe-struck. You'll be sure to see these names on book covers very soon: Sam Gilpin, Joe Milan, Oscar Oswald, Saltman Fellow Sreshtha Sen, Lorinda Toledo, and Wendy Wimmer. Hosted by journalist and friend Dan Hernandez. Come on by, they're excited to meet you.
Wayétu Moore is the author of She Would Be King, an ambitious and beautiful novel reframing the creation of Liberia through magical realism. Moore's work appears in The Paris Review, Frieze Magazine, Guernica, and The Atlantic Magazine. A graduate of Howard University and USC, she is currently a Margaret Mead Fellow at Columbia University Teachers College. She is also the founder of One More Book, a publishing house and bookstore encouraging reading among children of countries with low literacy rates and underrepresented cultures.
How do we stay connected as we're listening to each other in a volatile climate? BMI and the Women’s Research Institute of Nevada team up to host an interdisciplinary discussion on the art of listening featuring the acclaimed journalist Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, along with ethnographer Ranita Ray, and oral historian Claytee White, with remarks by WRIN Director Rebecca Gill. Whether discussing contentious politics, #MeToo experiences, historical narratives, or issues of exclusion and divisiveness, the panel will address the importance of listening effectively as a vital tool to assuaging the many barriers dividing our society. This program aims to explore how to connect with others whose experiences are different from our own.
How do the skills of mindfulness echo with the quiet, fierce attention that shapes art? Former Buddhist Chaplain Matthew Brensilver will lead a day-long meditation sit, punctuated with original performances and art encounters led by poet and performer Mandy Kahn. Join us for a day-long workshop that serves as both meditation retreat and a one-of-a-kind experience of visual and literary arts. Co-sponsored by the Barrick Museum of Art at UNLV.
The Black Mountain Institute, The Writer’s Block, and The Believer are proud to kick off our spring season with Elizabeth McCracken, winner of the Story Prize and National Book Award finalist. McCracken’s will discuss her latest book, Bowlaway, with fiction writer and BMI PhD Fellow Wendy Wimmer. Bowlaway tells the story of Bertha Truitt, a woman found unconscious in a New England cemetery with nothing but a bowling ball, a candlepin, and fifteen pounds of gold on her person.
Fall 2018 BMI Shearing Fellows Derek Palacio and Claire Vaye Watkins co-direct the Mojave school, a free creative writing workshop for teens based in Pahrump, NV. Watkins and Palacio will mark the end of their stay at BMI with an evening of readings and discussion in their favorite Vegas indie bookstore.
Pulitzer Prize winner and two-term U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey discusses her new book Monument: New & Selected Poems with Clark County Poet Laureate Vogue Robinson for the final Believer Presents event of the fall season.
For more than 15 years, The Believer magazine has published an array of emerging and established voices. Join features editor Camille Bromley, managing editor Daniel Gumbiner, Believer contributors, and staff as they read select highlights from the magazine’s archive of essays, comics, humor, poems, and interviews. The evening will also offer an exclusive sneak peek at the upcoming December Issue.
The Moth–popular public radio series and live show–is making its Las Vegas valley premiere. Join the Black Mountain Institute, The Believer, and Nevada Public Radio, as we welcome Teller, Vikram Krishnasamy, Dr. Chenjerai Kumanyika, Erica Vital-Lazare and Ruby Cooper–five powerful storytellers sharing their true and authentic experiences before a live audience.
Due to unforeseen circumstances, J. Jennifer Espinoza will no longer be joining us in Las Vegas next month. Please help us welcome Claire Schwartz in her stead. Claire is a poet and academic, author of bound, and contributor to the Paris Review’s “Poetry Rx.”
This year, the Black Mountain Institute presents a conversation about mentorship, celebrating the work and legacy of UNLV’s own Douglas Unger, with Brittany Bronson, Sorayya Khan, George Saunders, Paula Saunders, Maile Chapman, Vu Tran, and Ernie Wang.
Award-winning essayist Lucas Mann joins Believer contributor Sarah Marshall in a conversation about reality television, longform nonfiction, and storytelling surrounding the occasion of Mann’s third book, Captive Audience: On Love and Reality TV. Signing and reception to follow.
Acclaimed novelist and travel writer Paul Theroux, author of over fifty books such as The Great Railway Bazaar and The Mosquito Coast, will be giving a talk titled "Jack London in Hawaii--and Me Too--A Double Portrait." This talk will serve as the keynote address of the 2018 Jack London Society Symposium. It is free and open to the public. Paul Theroux will be available to sign copies of his books after the talk.
Joseph Cassara’s debut novel The House of Impossible Beauties follows a cast of gay and transgender club kids as they struggle to find their place. A graduate from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and Columbia University, Cassara is a skilled craftsman writing profound, complex, and tragic prose.
Poetry Promise, the Clark County Poet Laureate, Black Mountain Institute, and the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District come together to present U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith. RSVP
Poetry Promise, the Clark County Poet Laureate, Black Mountain Institute, and the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District come together to present U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith, who will offer a free, public workshop in Las Vegas.
This event is free and open to the public. Please RSVP.
The Black Mountain Institute, The Believer magazine, and The Writer’s Block announce a new event series featuring critically-acclaimed authors in conversation. Our inaugural event features R.O. Kwon in conversation with novelist Derek Palacio about Kwon’s highly-anticipated debut, The Incendiaries.