Boise CultureCulture

Undergraduate students showcase creative writing at Storyfort, Treefort 2021

Photo by Claire Keener

Storyfort — the storytelling program track at Boise’s Treefort Music Fest — hosted a creative writing showcase for Boise State undergraduate students on Friday, Sept. 24. 

The event featured a collection of poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction read by students whose works were selected from a pool of submissions. On their website, Storyfort called them “writers who are shaping the future of the written word in Boise and beyond.”

The outdoor reading was held at the new Cherie Buckner-Webb Park, where Treefort attendees and other Storyfort performers gathered to hear the stories of the diverse group of students.

A total of nine students presented work at the event, with topics ranging from poems about love and loss to excerpts about addiction and vampires.

Storyfort 2021, Creative writing showcase
[Photo from the Storyfort Creative Writing Showcase at Treefort 9, September 2021]
Photo by Claire Keener | The Arbiter

Ryan Marsh, a junior creative writing major, organized, promoted and recruited readers for the event. Wanting to ensure the Boise State community had as much involvement as possible, many of the judges selected by Marsh were either professors at the university or literaries in the Boise community.

“[The showcase] has been done before but it hadn’t been done in about three or four years,” Marsh said. “I just had the idea to try to put on something with my friends and, you know, share their art because it’s a scary thing to do.”

After contacting Storyfort Directory Christian Winn with his idea, Marsh began interning with Storyfort and organizing the event. 

“I was super nervous,” Marsh said. “Honestly the night before was the first time I spoke into a microphone in front of people.”

Just as hosting was a new experience for Marsh, many of the students presenting that day had never publicly presented their work before.

“I was definitely pretty nervous, I’d never done a reading before,” said Katie Lotz, a senior narrative arts major, who read a nonfiction piece about her family’s experience with addiction. “Once I got up there and I started reading and got into the flow of everything, it got a little bit less scary.”

According to both Marsh and Lotz, engaging with the Boise community can be a great way to network, find out about cool opportunities and grow in one’s craft.

“I totally think that [student involvement] is so important, especially because college is such a cool time in all of our lives where we are all so connected and focused together on what we’re studying so that’s so incredible,” Lotz said. “I would love to see more events like that from Boise State.”

Especially when it comes to a festival as big as Treefort, sharing one’s work can be a transformative part of the undergrad experience.

“I’m really excited that I was chosen and I’m honored to be a part of it because this is a big deal,” said Isabel Emerson, an undeclared non-traditional student.

Joe Davidson, assistant director for Storyfort, closed out the event with a few words on the significance of hands-on experience for undergrad students, especially for writers.

“It really warms my heart to be able to see this happening, undergrads don’t get a chance to read that often but this is where it starts,” Davidson said.

Future collaborations between Boise State and Storyfort are expected to occur throughout the year, with their next undergrad showcase being in March 2022. Additionally, Marsh hopes to put together another undergrad showcase in January for Boise State students.

 “These people are learning their craft, they’re doing amazing work and someday their names are the ones you’re going to be seeing on books and in magazines out there in the public, so remember that,” Davidson said.

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