WRITTEN BY: DANA WILLIAMS | STAFF WRITER
PLNU hosted its 21st annual Writer’s Symposium last Tuesday through Friday with four writers and eight opportunities throughout the four days for students and faculty to hear them speak.
This year, the Writer’s Symposium guests included Sports Broadcaster Dick Enberg, Author Robin Jones Gunn, Blogger and Author Sarah Bessey, and Poet Nikki Giovanni.
Dean Nelson, director of PLNU’s journalism program, created the symposium more than two decades ago to bring writers to PLNU and interview them in front of an audience.
“Let’s be honest—not every student enjoys writing. And yet every student is going to have do some writing through- out his or her career,” said PLNU Assistant Journalism Professor Stephen Goforth. “So why not take advantage of something so unique and useful? Other schools would love to hold something like the Writer’s Symposium on their campus.”
Nelson said, “Many schools and regions have what are called writer’s work-shops… There is a place for those kinds of gatherings and we didn’t want to du- plicate what was already out there. So we thought we’d try to focus on bringing in role models who could enlighten, en- courage and inspire great writing.”
This forum is embodied through one on one interviews with Nelson in front of the audience; this spontaneity allows more room for asides, as opposed to a typical lecture format.
Over the years this event has attracted many authors to PLNU such as Ray Bradbury, author of “Fahrenheit 451,” in 2001.
“While it can be helpful to hear a professor talk about how to write in a classroom setting, it’s so much more real when a successful author offers practical advice while standing in front of you,” Goforth said. “Every time I’ve attended one of the events, I get a takeaway that I needed to hear.”
Last Tuesday, Enberg took the stage and discussed his career as a sports broadcaster at NBC, CBS, ESPN and now for the San Diego Padres professional baseball team. “I have been employed for 30 years and haven’t worked a day in my life,” said Enberg.
“Students who did not attend missed out on the opportunity to hear the story of a man who came from nothing and created everything for himself and is so humble that he does not even realize the impact he has had on so many lives,” said Davis Bourgeois, a junior broadcast journalism major at PLNU.
Gunn, a Christian fiction novelist with over 82 published works, made her first appearance of the day in chapel on Thursday and shared her story.
“Before even mentioning her book, she told us about how she got there and everything that she went through and overcame first, which was interesting,” said Michelle Torres, a freshman PLNU broadcast journalism major.
This intrigue attracted a full audience later in the evening, “It was awe- some seeing that many Point Loma students coming together and advocating for writing … there was a sense of awe and wonder in every student” said Cam Wilkins, junior international studies major.
Nikki Giovanni had a free session Wednesday afternoon in the Fermanian Business Center prior to her sold out evening session later that night.
Giovanni read several of her poems and then answered questions from the audience, which led her to share some of her secrets to writing successfully.
“I think the only [real] subject for a writer, or at least for a creative writer, is the writer,” Giovanni said. “You have to be willing to say something like my father used to beat my mother… at some point you have to get to something that is embarrassing to you. There is some- body out there that needs to hear what you have to say, somebody that wants to hear…”
PLNU sophomore and psychology major Bri Winbigler said, “She had a presence—a way of speaking—the words didn’t just resonate, but you could tell she was pouring her heart out…”
Self-proclaimed “Jesus Feminist,” and author of a book by the same name Sarah Bessey, concluded the 21st annual Writer’s Symposium at PLNU by presenting her standpoint on the importance of gender equality in the church based interpretation of the scripture.
“It’s from my faith that I treat people with equal value, not the other way around,” Bessey said.
The 22nd annual Writer’s Symposium is expected to continue next year with Nelson hosting the event.
photo by: Jonathan Soch
Blogger and author Sarah Bessey speaks in Brown Chapel on Friday as part of her visit for Writer’s Symposium.