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The essays, stories, anecdotes and other pieces read during A Reading of Her Own can be deeply personal.

There's an added gravity to hearing those works read aloud, particularly when the stories are true.

"It’s a nonfiction event," said Ashley Warren, an organizer of the event. "All our readers will be sharing personal narratives. And in the past, it has been an event that is somber but also enlightening.”

The third A Reading of Her Own event will take place at MoAV Coffee, 2501 Montana Ave., at 7 p.m., on Oct. 19. It features seven women, who are writers and artists, who will share their selections live.

The readers come from a running list kept by Billings Area Literary Arts. The organization, made up of Warren and Gazette writer Anna Paige, puts on the event.

Warren said they launched A Reading of Her Own as a showcase for female writers.

“We also try, as best as we can, to have a diversity of writers in age, ability and cultural or ethnic background,” she said.

The lineup includes two finalists from the High Plains Book Awards, which is a partner event. They are Chauna Craig, author of "The Widow's Guide to Edible Mushrooms" and Becky Mandelbaum, author of "Bad Kansas."

The other readers are Allie Cohen, Rebecca Flores, Precious McKenzie, Sue Lawrence and Tami Haaland.

An MSUB professor and former Montana poet laureate, Haaland said last week that she hadn't yet picked her piece to read. It will likely be prose.

She said she was excited for the event, as it is among other similar readings that happen across the state.

"They developed a really clear structure for it," Haaland said. "It gathers in a great audience, sometimes people even from out of town.”

Indeed, Warren said that A Reading of Her Own was adapted from a similar event in Helena. 

The Billings format allows for eight minutes per reader. Like past events, this one has a fundraising portion.

“At the halfway, I guess you could call it intermission, we have a little bit of time to have a representative from the organization to present a bit about what they do,” Warren said.

This event will support "When They Were Here," a documentary about missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Montana filmmakers Ivy MacDonald and Ivan MacDonald, who are also brother and sister, will be there to speak about the film.

Entrants to the event may donate to the film as an entrance fee.

As for the readings, Warren said that the writers are hand-picked. But the selections aren't previewed.

“We usually let the writing speak for itself, and that’s where the surprises show up,” she said.

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General Assignment Reporter

Reporter for The Billings Gazette.