Writers’ Festival now more open to students
Undergraduates and others interested in writing and literature will get the opportunity to mingle with professionals in an upcoming three-day festival.
The university will hold its annual Writers’ Festival February 17 – 19 in the Brindley Auditorium of the York Science Center.
Former UMHB English Professor Dr. Donna Walker-Nixon and her husband George Nixon started the festival as a way to showcase their first project – the Windhover journal, which is dedicated to writers of faith.
The three-day literary festival is open to the public and will feature special guests Joshilyn Jackson. Paul J. Willis. Jackson, who has been on The New York Times Bestselling List, will present the George Nixon Memorial Lecture Feb.17 in Brindley Auditorium at 7 p.m.
Walker-Nixon, who now teaches creative and expository writing at Baylor University bases the success for the event on its growth over the years.
“Initially, the idea was to include writers in the Southwest, but then it became
broader in aspect when writers from across the United States began to attend and to conduct workshops and readings. The attendance began at 35 the first year, and then the festival gained momentum through the years,” she said.
Walker- Nixon admits before her husband George died she sometimes didn’t “feel” literature, earning the nickname “German drill
She hopes “students come to feel and experience what they read more than as just dull words on a page.”
Assistant Professor of English Dr. Jessica Hooten, who took over the festival for Dr. Audell Shelburne after his leadership of six years, is passionate about her role.
“Not enough people support literature, (it’s a) great way to support contemporary arts,” she said.
Hooten is looking forward to hearing the keynote speakers whom she discovered at the Calvin Festival of Faith and Writing.
“It’s difficult to get top speakers to come to your school …. You have to get people to do it because they love it. Some of the biggest names are difficult to reach because they have some of the biggest pocketbooks,” she said.
This year, Hooten posted a video on YouTube, got a website running. moved the festival to February instead of January so students could have an opportunity to attend, and enacted the first student panel.
“It’s a prime opportunity to showcase students …. They will be the next writers. We need to get them involved now. Some of them could be our key speakers in ten years,” she said.
Senior English major Rachel Yubeta is participating this year and will be one of the students on the new panel.
“This is the first time the festival has been open to students. I submitted some poetry pieces and a short creative non-fiction piece in mid November,” she said.
Yubeta is excited about the panel.
“I’m looking forward to presenting my work and getting feedback from other writers,” she said.
Yubeta also looks forward to hearing the speakers.
She said, “I enjoy hearing other writers talk about their life, writing and their work.”