By Natasha Christian
The annual Writers’ Festival hosted movie night for literature fanatics at Shelton Theater. This year’s showing was Louder Than a Bomb, an award-winning documentary directed and produced by Jon Siskel and Greg Jacobs.
The film made its debut at the Austin Film Festival and won the award for best documentary feature. Set in the Chicago area, more than 60 schools battle in the world’s biggest youth poetry slam.
The movie follows four teams as they transform painful life experiences into writing gold.
Director of the Writers’ Festival, English Assistant Professor Dr. Jessica Hooten, is excited about the documentary and said it gives viewers an enlightening perspective on poetry slam.
She said, “It is such an inspiring film…some of them (performers) are actually from the inner city and have issues with anger and issues with family lives that they need catharsis. They need ways of understanding what is going on in their lives and ways of dealing with that emotionally.”
She further iterates the cycle between pain being an inspiration for words and words becoming a coping mechanism.
“Louder Than a Bomb shows how these students’ home lives have affected their poetry and how their poetry has formed their lives, and that reciprocal process between the two,” she said. “It’s a fantastic film.”
The Writers’ Festival is roughly 10 years old. Well known published authors come to UMHB to speak to Crusaders and locals.
Hooten is preparing for the gala on Feb. 9-11, 2012.
Five writers, Susan Isaacs, Daniel Taylor, Susana Childress, Brett Foster and Albert Haley, will discuss a variety of topics, including spiritual themes and Christian identity.
All speakers will host workshops for writing enthusiasts who wish to spruce up their skills.
Junior English major Jamie Dye is ready to receive some words of wisdom from credible sources.
“I’m hoping to gain some knowledge from people who are actually experienced writers and have been published,” she said. “Their work has merit, and they’re willing to teach you. I hope they can teach me some tricks or tidbits.”
Assistant Director of the Writers’ Festival and senior social work major Amberly Clay thinks the workshops at UMHB offer something other universities cannot.
“Not a lot of writers’ festivals have one-on-one like ours does. A lot of writers’ festivals that you go to have 30-40 students in a workshop or even 100 students. Here, it is a very personal workshop,” she said.
For those who are not interested in literature, Hooten said there is more to the event than meets the eye.
She said, “The Writers’ Festival shows living writers who understand the power of literature to transform who you are…. And literature has ways of getting you better sight to see the world and to see your place in it. The Writers’ Festival showcases how much fun literature can be, how life changing and influential it can be.”
Attendees will be entertained and instructed through short stories, short fiction and spiritual autobiographies.
However, the field that fascinates Hooten the most is poetry. The literary work that gives her “goose bumps” has a different ring to it when heard and seen on a personal level.
She said, “Students forget how much power poetry can have on its own without the melodies. I think that’s one of those things that you have to experience live to feel a difference. It does change you to meet the authors behind the work. Hearing poetry read out loud changes the way you think about poetry.”