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The Writer’s (and Non-Writer’s) Symposium

Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU) is bringing together the innovative and creative minds of a science fiction and television writer, a documentary film maker, a Washington Post columnist and a poet. The Writer’s Symposium by the Sea is happening Feb. 18 – Feb. 21, but here’s the kicker – it’s for everyone, not just writers.

“You will be swept away just by the whole notion of great storytelling,” says PLNU Journalism Director Dean Nelson. “Even if you aren’t a writer, my guess is that you like to read stories. To escape. To learn.”

Storytelling is a break from reality and an opportunity for people to immerse themselves in stories, according to Nelson. He says, “The purpose of the Symposium is to inspire, model and celebrate great writing.”

Jody Hassett Sanchez, a well-known journalist and documentary film maker will be joining the Symposium at 7 p.m. on Feb. 18. The interview will take place in Crill Performance Hall following a viewing of her newest film, “More Art Upstairs.”

Feb. 19 features Nnedi Okorafor, the author of “Wakanda Forever,” the newest “Black Panther” series. This science fiction writer will be interviewed at 7 p.m. in Brown Chapel.

The Washington Post is sharing their political columnist, E.J. Dionne, on Wednesday, Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. in Crill Performance Hall. The following day, former editor of “Poetry Magazine” Christian Wiman will be joining PLNU at the same time and location as the day prior.

These great writers exemplify great storytelling, says Nelson. “What we are saying at the Symposium to our audience is, ‘aspire to this. This is the bar.’”

“There’s something for everyone at the Writer’s Symposium,” says PLNU alumni and engagement editor of the San Diego Union Tribune, Abby Hamblin. She says that any student will walk away from the event with something learned.

The Symposium isn’t an event where the guests are given a list of questions prior to the interview in order to prepare, Nelson says. This event is cause for conversation and engagement with the PLNU students.
“I personally love attending this event because it gives me a firsthand experience with people that I adore and that are singlehandedly changing the way we experience reading and writing,” says Dylan Gurga, a PLNU senior education major.

Gurga says that one of her favorite experiences at the Writer’s Symposium was listening to her favorite author and podcast host, Krista Tippett, at the 2018 event. “She left me with a sense of awe as well as a long list of key points I still reflect on,” says Gurga.

“Even if you don’t know the writer, by the time you leave [the Writer’s Symposium], you will,” says the PLNU department assistant of Literature, Journalism, Writing and Languages, Ashley Montaño. She says the interviewees don’t have to prepare anything; “it’s an intimate conversation.” “The event just speaks for itself,” says Hamblin. So PLNU students can get there tickets now. Visit for more information.


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Abby Williams

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