Desert Companion

Better Believer It!


Courtesy Yoshimoto

This year’s Believer Festival ponders the future to illuminate the present

“One main thing about The Believer Festival is that only one thing happens at a time,” Joshua Wolf Shenk, executive director of the Black Mountain Institute, recently wrote in one of the longish pensées he regularly sends to BMI’s mailing list. It’s a prix-fixe alternative to the buffet amplitude of most book and arts festivals, which stack multiple presentations in the same time slots. The Believer Festival’s sequential structure is meant to ensure all attendees share a communal experience and aren’t tugged by FOMO between two events they want to see. Or, as Shenk put it, “You are relieved of the burden of choice.”

This year’s theme is “Here + after,” which acknowledges the way our expectations of the future shape our present. Among the writers, thinkers, and performers: novelists Jonathan Lethem, Lisa Ko, Kristen Arnett, and Ahmed Naji; poet Kaveh Akbar; On Being host Krista Tippett, choreographer Annie-B Parson; and performer Jean Grae. In addition, the festival will kick off with the city’s first MothSlam, hosted by Dan Kennedy.

The Believer Festival is known for its inventive venue selection, and that continues this year. Events will take place in Red Rock Canyon, Fremont Country Club, The Writer’s Block, the 9th Bridge School, the Light Box at Area 15, and Fergusons Downtown. As it did last year, the festival will feature an ongoing suite of programing at The Lucy complex Downtown on May 2.

Support comes from

The Believer Festival was created by the Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute and its magazine The Believer. Scott Dickensheets

The Believer Festival, April 29 - May 2, various locations. Tickets and schedule at

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