PLNU Celebrates 25th Annual Poetry Day

PLNU's Annual Poetry Day brought speakers from all over San Diego and beyond to share their poetry in Crill Performance Hall on Sep. 28. Photo courtesy of Julia Ausland.

Point Loma Nazarene University’s 25th annual Poetry Day brought students, faculty and community members together for a day of celebrating published works and creativity on Sept. 28. The festivities included an afternoon workshop with San Diego’s 2023-24 Poet Laureate Jason Magabo Perez in Fermanian Business Conference Center and a group poetry reading held in the Crill Performance Hall. The evening reading featured 25 different poets from San Diego and across the United States. 

Professors at PLNU who shared their work at the reading were Katie Manning, Margarita Pintado Burgos and Montague Williams.

During the poetry reading, many different styles were shared. The poems would go from long to short,  happy to sad, then funny to, even at times, mind-jerking. There were also different ways in which the poems were delivered, from being interactive with the audience to acting on stage and using different tones of voice, making the words more powerful.         

After the reading, desserts and tea were given out, which gave audience members a chance to meet the poets. Among the poets who shared their work and chatted with audience members after the readings was Katie Kemple.

“I think I write poems because I have to, it’s very freeing to write a poem as opposed to an essay which has very strict rules. Poetry you can really write what you feel, exactly the way you feel it,” Kemple said.

This was Kemple’s first time speaking at PLNU. The path that brought her to reading her works on stage, and ultimately picking up the craft,  goes all the way back to her childhood.

“I was inspired to write poems because I found a collection of William Shakespeare as a child growing up,” Kemple said. “This collection belonged to my uncle who had passed away and I had never met him, so instantly I had felt this really special connection with poetry, with reading the works of Shakespeare and reading his sonnets in particular.”

Similar to Kemple’s childhood experience, Helen Cordona, another poet from the night, was exposed to literature and poetry at a very young age, influencing her to write works herself.  

Cordona wrote her first poem at age 10 about her dog. Growing up in Switzerland, Crodona would take her dog for long hikes in the mountains.

“There we lived at the foot of the mountain and it was very meditative. It was like a bit of an altered state and I think it was conducive to communing with nature and expressing feelings,” Cordona said. “I grew up around poetry a lot and had to read poetry in school, and at my house, we had so many books of literature and poetry. But personally, it was a way for me to express whatever it was I was feeling.” 

Both Kemple and Cordona described writing poetry as a freeing experience with no rules to follow and a way to express themselves.  

“The writing of poetry is a way to better get to know myself and to express myself and transcend pain, feelings and emotions into something beautiful,” said Cordona

In the audience, many students attended the reading and found the experience very moving and inspiring. 

“I’ve never written poetry or have been very interested in it, but after going to the poetry day reading I have a greater appreciation for it,” said third-year child development major Alyssa Hamilton. “One of the poems that really stood out to me was the interactive one where we would join in and would shout, ‘respect, respect, respect’ when the poet would raise her hand.”