Published in the February 22, 2017 issue of The Bells
The Writers’ Festival is an annual event held at UMHB that celebrates the art of language through poetry, prose, visual art and songwriting. The event is a three-day series of panels, workshops and mixers that students, faculty and professional authors attend to learn more about creative writing and share original work.
The event is hosted by the Windhover, a biannual publication of Christian writings that has been sponsored by UMHB since 2009.
One of the featured aspects of the Writers’ Festival is a creative writing showcase, which features original works read by current UMHB students who were published in the preceding year’s Baylorian. The creative writing showcase was held on Wednesday, Feb. 15, and was succeeded by a dessert mixer and several other events throughout the day.
Thursday night was the Writers’ Festival’s biggest event turnout, which was a concert from Still on the Hill that counted as a fine arts experience credit. Their album, “Still A River,” centers around the nation’s first national park, the Buffalo River. Their songs celebrate the stories that surround the area’s rich history and beautiful wildlife. The Arkansas natives, Donna and Kelly Molhollan, performed with eclectic melodies, unique instruments, and a “low-tech powerpoint” of images printed on fabric and bordered by various quilting patterns.
Donna performs barefoot and flings her “powerpoint slides” on the stage beside her after the song that the quilt pertains to is over.
The couple also led a workshop earlier that day with their orchestra of odd, one-of-a-kind instruments. The worship, titled Songwriting, aimed at allowing writers to explore how their work could be influenced by music, even if they are not musicians. The attending writers practiced reading their poems over simple music so that they could see the impact of spoken word to a beat, like the common practice of slam poetry.
Though unlike most other musical groups that play at UMHB, Still on the Hill’s performance was interactive, carried a deeper message to campaign for the preservation of Buffalo River from a confined factory farm of 600 hogs, and unforgettable. Still on the Hill has been attending and performing at events at UMHB for over 20 years through ties with a few professors from the art department, Helen Kwiatkowski and Hershall Seals.
The Writers’ Festival is a national event, with published authors coming in from all over the country, like Idaho, Kansas, Indiana, Washington, Arkansas, and others. The event has transformed from an event that is held over winter break to a period where students are encouraged to attend.
Grace Rose, a junior English major, loves the Writers’ Festival and looks forward to it every year. She performed a collection of her poetry pieces at the creative writing showcase because of her published poem in the Baylorian last year. “My favorite part of the conference is definitely Still on the Hill,” Rose said. “I look forward to seeing them every year.”