The university’s annual Writer’s Festival on Feb. 9-11, hosted by the Windhover journal, is approaching, and students are gearing up to submit their work, which will be displayed along with art pieces.
The gathering will be held in the Lord Conference Center of the Parker Academic Center.
The festival is free and open to everyone on campus as well as the community. Putting together such a big event can be tedious, but with the right people to offer help, the task can be a bit easier..
Assistant Professor of English Dr. Jessica Hooten said, “This is my second year directing the festival. I handle everything involved with the festival. However, it would not be possible to put on a good festival without the support of my administrative assistant, who is a senior at UMHB, Amberly Clay, as well as my colleagues in the English department.”
A group of students from English Professor Dr. Cleatus Rattan’s creative writing class have been encouraged to participate in the festival; he hopes that many will attend the readings as well.
He said, “The students have the opportunity to write about the paintings that they will see and will be on display during the festival. Such poetry is known as ekphrastic.”
This combination of art and writing is a new extension within the festival, which will be hosted by Rattan and Professor and art Department Chair, Hershall Seals.
Seals said multiple guest speakers from across the nation and reginoal professional writers will both be making appearances at the university.
There will be about 10 or eleven writing students and 10 art students chosen by the faculty.
Rattan said the students who do choose to participate will take away from the experience “satisfaction and increased knowledge — a good educational experience.”
A few of Rattan’s students were taken to look at the artwork last week and some were left speechless by the pieces that stood before them.
He has also encouraged his creative writing students from both last semseter and this semester to write about the art on display.
Senior performance studies and English major Kelsey Broussard finds it hard to decide which piece she will be writing about.
“I have not selected my piece for sure yet; they are all remarkable and memorable, so I am having a hard time deciding. I think I am leaning toward the colorful skull painting or the young woman who appears to be listening to music,” she said. “I definitely felt inspired on a few of the art pieces. There were a few that created a connection right away and others that slowly pulled my emotion the longer I observed it.”
Broussard is open to new ideas when it comes to emerging both art and writing.
She said, “I really would like the experience of having someone else’s art act as my muse for writing. I am excited to express what I see. I am interested to see how I can evoke emotion for others in a way the piece of art does for me.”
Like others, Broussard has been influenced by many different types of poets since her childhood.
She said, “I have been writing poetry since I learned and read about Dr. Seuss. I loved his books, and he is probably one of my favorite poets along with Emily Dickinson and Shakespeare.”
Although new to the festival, she remains optimistic about the outcome of her future writing.
Broussard said, “Even though this is my first year to participate, I would definitely recommend that other students get involved in the festival. I am a bit fearful of others’ criticism of my work, but it took Thomas Edison 99 times before he succeeded in the invention of the light bulb.”
Senior history and English major David Bailey has come across a challenging painting, but he has decided to pursue a work tailored to the picture.
He said, “I think I will write about the myriad of different colors. Dr. Rattan said he didn’t know what to think of it. I find it very intimidating.”
Hooten said the festival is free of cost for students, faculty and the community. She would also like to see people attend the keynote sessions.
She has had positive feedback from the campus about prior festivals.
Hooten said, “In the past, students have sent me email comments regarding how much they enjoyed the festival. Having writers on campus brings books and poems to life. I would hope students would realize that writing is not an activity that takes place far away by disembodied creatures, but that everyone can and should be writing.”
Those who are involved with the event will be exposed to a new level of creativity.
Seals said, “It is a good opportunity for both the artists and the writers to have their work appreciated by festival attendees who are naturally interested in this type of creative endeavor. Our students will find their borders stretched by exhibiting both paintings and writings to professionals in the literary arts.”