Writer’s Festival inspires more than poetry

The 2012 Writer’s Festival brought authors from all around the country together. Combining poetry, prose and art, the festival ran Feb. 9-11  and featured celebrated authors such as Dan Taylor, Brett Foster and Susanna Childress as well as student authors.

Assistant Professor of English Dr. Jessica Hooten spearheaded the festival and expected it to have a positive impact on students and others who attended.

“I was hoping that students would be exposed to great writing, that their assumptions about literature may be overturned, and that perhaps they would be inspired by the beauty of poetry,” she said.

Hooten was pleased with the outcome of the festival but hopes future festivals will get more recognition and support.

She said, “I think UMHB has a larger opportunity with the festival than they realize. Thankfully, some professors recognized the value of the festival and brought whole classes. However, every department across campus should be coming. The auditorium should be filled at every session, and we should have students in awe of what they have just experienced.”

Junior English major Courtney Kirk is one of those crusaders that describes what Hooten  wished. She attended and  was amazed with keynote speaker.

“I did hear Dr. Al Haley’s work, and I thought it was pretty exceptional. I really liked his work a great deal. It was vivid; it was full of imagery. I could understand it; it wasn’t elevated speech. It was full of drama, and it wasn’t stilted. I liked it a lot,” she said.

Kirk was also impressed with Haley’s humbleness and the realness his work represented. She described the authenticity of his performance.

“Even though this is a Christian setting, he didn’t pull any punches. He told it how it is. He talked about everyday situations, and I can appreciate that,” she said. “Another thing was his address, his approach to reading his work; it was    exceptional.”

Kirk hopes the festivals in years to come will expand and not just focus on a few genres of writing.

“If you’re trying to produce writers, great writers, you have to realize that everyone is not going to write in that genre of Christian works. Everyone is not geared up on that,” Kirk said. “So we need to have different writer styles, and I think that needs to be pushed. I think that would really help the     students.”

Laughter filled the room on opening night of the festival as professors, students and guests of the campus took their turn and expressed themselves with poetry and scripts during Open Mic Night.

Hooten said, “Sharing poetry, songs and prose pieces used to be common; now we have to arrange evenings for it. The university is a formal setting, but these events should be happening impromptu in our off-campus lives.”

She gives her own personal view of literary art and its biblical connection.

“Poetry is not merely about expressing oneself; poetry is the human attempt to grapple with the unfathomable mysteries of the universe. For those who believe in a God who is called the Word, the highest calling should be a devotion to words.”


Author: Nicole Johnson

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