On the eve of this year’s Black Mountain Institute’s Believer Festival, VIM Magazine speaks with MFA writer Timea Sipos, who will be hosting Neon Lit’s Pop-Up at the festival at ReBAR.
VIM MAGAZINE: What can we expect at Neon Lit’s Pop-Up at the Believer Festival?
TIMEA SIPOS: To be floored. Two of our creative writing MFAs, Gabrielle Faith and Zach Wilson, and one of our PhD fellows, Wendy Wimmer, will read alongside The Believermagazine’s founders,Vendela Vida and Heidi Julavits, current Believer editor-in-chief and executive director of the Black Mountain Institute Joshua Wolf Shenk, andBeliever contributor and Bennett Fellow Ben Ehrenreich. It’s an impressive line-up of well-established and emerging writers who are sure to wow us. I can’t wait to hear what they have in store for us.
VIM MAGAZINE: What are you most looking forward to from the festival this year?
TIMEA SIPOS: Hard to choose just one! There are so many fantastic readings and events featuring amazing writers, comedians, and musicians lined up. I’m looking forward to them all, but if I to choose just one, I’d have to say I’m most looking forward to the event at the Red Rock Amphitheater. Not only is the line-up great, but the venue is gorgeous. I remember how peaceful and mesmerizing it was last year to hear poets and writers read their work against the backdrop of the mountain ranges at sunset while the coyotes howled in the distance. It’ll be even better this year, because I’m going to make sure to bring a jacket, so I don’t freeze once the sun sets!
VIM MAGAZINE: For people who have never been to the Neon Lit readings, what are they and what can we expect for the next season?
TIMEA SIPOS: Neon Lit is a monthly reading series that features writers from the UNLV Creative Writing MFA and PhD programs. Kathryn Kruse, who is an alumna of the UNLV MFA program, a short fiction writer, and a community organizer, founded the reading series back in 2009. It was originally held at the Arts Factory, and in 2015 we found a new home for it at The Writer’s Block bookstore on East Fremont. Everyone in the program has the opportunity toread once a year, and the reading connects us to a wide audience—weconsistently draw in a packed house with standing room only. You can expect to see a bunch of new faces next year, when the incoming class of poetry, fiction, and the new, nonfiction track MFAs and PhDs enter the program. As always, we’ll also feature guest readers, including alumni of the program and local or visitingwriters.
VIM MAGAZINE: What have been some of your favorite past Neon Lit performances?
TIMEA SIPOS: I always love hearing what my fellow members of the cohort are working on. That includes both work I’ve never heard before and work I’ve seen earlier iterations of in workshop—Ilove hearing what changes writers have made based on our feedback and what criticism they’ve resisted. I love seeing how a writer develops a piece, be it fiction, poetry, nonfiction, random musings, whatever, and I love hearing authors read who are confident about their craft.
A tradition that we carry forward at Neon Lit are the often funny, sometimes sentimental, but always unique introductions. Whoever we choose to have emcee for the month usually brings something special to the introductions. I’ve heard emcee’s read intros they’ve written in the style of The Night Before Christmas, or horoscopes they’ve written based on readers’ zodiac signs, or fake interviews for Ellen. Our last reading of the academic year—whichwill take place on Friday, April 27th this year—isalways really special, because we choose a first-year MFA student to introduce the MFAs and PhDs who are graduating, who often read from their theses and dissertations. I’ve yet to leave an AprilNeon Lit reading with dry eyes.
VIM MAGAZINE: What is one thing you want people to take from this Pop-Up?
TIMEA SIPOS: I just want the audience to take it all in, to leave having digested a taste of the immense talent we have in the UNLV MFA and PhD programs, at BMI, and The Believer.
More info: https://festival.blackmountaininstitute.org