Welcome to Five Minutes of Fame
Local writers/speakers get their moment in the spotlight
Five Minutes of Fame conjurs up Andy Warhol’s famous quotation: "In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes." It isn’t necessarily fame, but a nurturing of like-minded souls, that brings writers, readers, and listeners together at Di Luna’s Restaurant in Sandpoint on the second Wednesday of every month at 6:30.
Thanks to the generosity of owner Karen Forsythe, Di Luna’s stays open that night especially for the group.
The first such gathering of local writers began almost a decade ago under the guidance of Jane Fritz and Larry Keith. "The whole idea was to broaden the exposure to the literary arts for people living in the area," said Fritz, "while acknowledging the creativity of our own local writers."
Keith had already published several books of poetry. Fritz had won awards for her documentary work on radio. She is also a poet, writer, and Director of The Idaho Mythweaver. Fritz credits East Bonner County Library District and the Idaho Humanities Council for helping start a forum that has grown in popularity.
"We brought in a big name regional poet and opened with a local poet," Fritz continued. "We had Jonathan Johnson before he became a name."
Johnson, whose grandfather farmed in the Sagle area, has since completed a Ph.D. and begun a teaching career at Eastern Washington University (EWU). Carnegie Mellon Press published his first book of poetry – Mastodon, 80% Complete.
Christopher Howell, a nationally award-winning poet and professor at EWU, read and taught a poetry workshop in Sandpoint.
Christine Holbert, who will shortly bring out Howell’s most recent book of poetry, moved to Sandpoint in June, 2000. She runs Lost Horse Press and actively promotes literary arts in the area.
Anyone involved in the arts knows that marketing and finding an audience is a challenge. Five Minutes of Fame provides an atmosphere of respect for a diversity of readings. There are no public critiques. Although most presentations take the form of reading, there is no rule prohibiting music or other endeavors. The only rule is that each presentation be limited to five minutes.
During the time the group called themselves "Espresso Yourself" and met at Jumpin’ Joe’s Café, artist Eileen Klatt brought paintings and poetry, and jazz pianist DiAnn Rosander and musicians Bonnie Blue and the late Cindy Borup played regularly.
When Jumpin’ Joe’s closed, Sandpoint resident Karen Seashore, who won The Pacific Northwest Inlander short story contest in 2000, kept the momentum going as did well-known storyteller Carol Jean Rose of Spirit Lake. The group tried various venues including upstairs by the fireplace at Eichardt’s Pub and Grill and the (former) Red Marten.
Rory Metcalf, an Emmy-award winning writer whose first novel CUTOFF MAN was a finalist in the James Jones First Novel Fellowship competition, moved to Sandpoint from New York City in September, 2000. She first read at the Red Marten.
"My mother called me from Ohio in November," said Metcalf. "My brother had visited and taken home a bunch of local newspapers and publications, so she called me the night before the November meeting and said ‘You gotta go to this.’ I didn’t have the nerve until January ‘01."
Metcalf has missed only one or two gatherings since. "And only under duress," she said.
When Jim Standish moved to Sandpoint in the winter of 2000, he immediately gravitated to the group. Standish had for many years emcee’d an Open Mic for poets in the Palo Alto area – a program that is still ongoing. "Leave ‘em wanting more," is the Standish philosophy regarding the five minute time limit.
In June, 2001, Five Minutes of Fame found a home at Di Luna’s. Robens Napolitan, a poet and artist, maintains the email list. Tom Kramer, whose zestful paintings decorated the walls of Di Luna’s during the winter of 2001/02, sets up the sound system. Participants take turns as emcee.
Metcalf took her turn as emcee for the September 11, 2002 gathering and read from her new novel GONE which is set in New York. Others read reactions, memories or histories evoked by the traumatic events of 9/11.
Whether award-winning, published, or just getting started, Five Minutes of Fame welcomes everyone. Listeners are considered an integral part. The group continues to grow, expand and change. The next gathering is at Di Luna’s at 6:30 on Wednesday, October 9.
Jonathan Johnson will be appearing at the historic Bull River Nature Center this Saturday at 7:30 pm (mountain time) for "Linked by Nature," a free program sponsored by Bull River Outdoors Education. Also speaking are Renee D'Aoust and Sandy Compton. Call 406-847-2040 for more information.