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Writer’s Symposium by the Sea Welcomes Alice Walker in 2020

Point Loma Nazarene University bleeds green and gold, but Alice Walker bleeds the color purple.  The 75-year-old author is coming to PLNU in early 2020, and the buzz can already be heard around campus.

“This is big,” said Dean Nelson, Director of PLNU’s Annual Writer’s Symposium by the Sea.  “This is big,” he repeated.

The African-American novelist, poet and activist is one of eight children, born in Eatonton, Georgia on February 9, 1944.  As a southern woman, Walker’s creative vision is often inspired by the rural South and the hardships endured by the African-Americans there.

Walker is well-known for the success of her third novel “The Color Purple”—which received the National Book Award for Hardcover Fiction as well as the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1983.

The story was later adapted for the big screen by Steven Spielberg.  The novel has also been adapted for Broadway and has won several notable awards, including Tonys and Grammys.

Walker’s critically-acclaimed story explores the African-American experience in the early 1900s.  The novel’s protagonist, Celine, is a black woman who suffers horrific abuse from both her father and husband.

Walker’s literary contribution to society is recognized by both students and teachers at Loma.  Carmen Flores-Lopez, an LJWL sophomore majoring in literature, included Walker’s “The Color Purple” in her top three books she would want with her on a desert island. Bettina Pedersen, professor of literature, includes “The Color Purple” on her list of required reading materials for Women Writers—a popular upper-division literature course offered at PLNU.

However, “The Color Purple” is only a fraction of the work Walker has contributed to the literary community.

Nelson explains the importance of including authors who are not only famous but who also have strong bodies of work and are not “one-offs.”  Point Loma wants to include authors who inspire, said Nelson.

After many attempts, Nelson was finally able to get Walker on board—despite doubts expressed by her representatives.

“They said ‘good luck,’” said Nelson. “That sort of raised the bar for me to say, ‘Alright, you don’t think I can do this? I think I can.’”  The consistency in Nelson’s efforts, reaching out monthly for half a year, is what finally evoked Walker’s positive response. And now the event stands almost six months from us today.  

The 25th Annual Writer’s Symposium will take place on PLNU’s main campus from Tuesday, February 25 to Thursday, February 27. Walker’s afternoon forum and evening interview will fall on the 27th. Tickets are available at pointloma.edu/writers.

“To people who don’t know who Alice Walker is,” said Nelson, “just come, and be ready to be inspired.”

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Becca Jones

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