Faculty Spotlight: Katie Manning

Faculty Spotlight is a weekly column dedicated to conversations made with Point Loma Nazarene University’s faculty and staff members. More editions can be found on lomabeat.com.  Writing professor Katie Manning is a PLNU alumna who specializes in poetry and women writers. She is also an author who has written poetry books and collections, which have also led her to win awards for her poetry and teaching. In an email-conducted interview, Manning shares her interests and love for literature. 

1. When did you find your passion for writing and literature?

My mom and granny read to me a lot when I was very young, so I think my passion for writing and literature really began before I can remember. I created my first poem when I was four years old, and my granny helped me write it down. 

2. What does writing poetry mean to you?

Writing poetry means more to me than I can say briefly here, but one thing it means is this: I get to be in conversation with people who lived thousands of years before me, with people who live all over the world now, and with people who will be alive long after I’m gone. Humans were passing poems down orally before they were writing anything. That sense of participating in one of the oldest forms of human art makes me feel small in the best way and part of something so much larger than myself. 

3. What is one of your favorite memories of teaching in the LJWL department here at PLNU?

This question feels almost cruel. I have far too many favorite memories! Which to choose? Here’s a recent one: Last month, I got to host a book release reading to celebrate new books by Emma McCoy (senior Literature major), Margarita Pintado (Spanish professor), and me. Getting to celebrate a student’s new book alongside my new book and a colleague’s new book was such a wonderful thing! 

4. If you could grab lunch with any celebrity, who would it be and why?

Julie Andrews! I’ve loved her since I was a kid. She’s Mary Poppins! Maria! The Queen of Genovia! She’s such a talented actress and singer, and she’s also an author. I’d love to hear her talk about the things she’s done, the people she’s worked with, and the books she’s written, but then I also get the sense that she’d just be a lovely person to talk with about anything at all. I’d love to be her friend.

5. What is one piece of literature that has stuck with you?

Claudia Rankine’s Citizen. It’s a work of nonfiction, but some of it is written like poetry, and it also includes images. It’s a book that takes me inside life experiences that I could never have and makes me feel those experiences viscerally, which is something that really good writing can do. I first read this book several years ago, and I find myself thinking of it so often.