Westmont Magazine A Literary Event
More Than 100 Scholars from 30 Institutions Visit Westmont
Poets, writers and scholars came to campus in January when Westmont hosted the Western Regional Meeting of the Conference on Christianity and Literature. English Professor Cheri Larsen Hoeckley organized the two-day event.
Participants presented papers on the theme, “Who is My Neighbor? Reading and Faith in a Global Community.” Topics included “Good Samaritans Outside the Gospel,” “Neighbors, Others and Ourselves in Film,” and “Novels, Nations and Imagining Others,” along with 25 other panels.
Palestinian poet Naomi Shihab Nye read her work in a session open to the public. An essayist, children’s author and songwriter as well as a poet, Nye has written numerous books, including “19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East.”
“She brought a wonderful voice to our community,” Hoeckley said. “She was so generous with the students.”
Rev. Norm Freeman, a Grammy Award-winning percussionist, led a Jazz Vespers service to end the event. A graduate of Julliard and a professional musician, he became an Episcopal priest in 1997.
“It was the perfect way to wrap-up a weekend of hard thinking and good conversation,” Hoeckley said.
“I was really pleased with the way the theme brought writers and Christians together to think in a rejuvenating and challenging way,” she reflected. “It seemed like the right time for it.”
Christine Kepner, a Spanish professor from Wheaton College, echoed Hoeckley’s comments. “My colleague Phyllis Mitchell and I were both enlivened by what we heard,” she said. “The presentations were helpful to me in identifying direction and resources as well as in gaining insight. The setting was lovely, of course; and the spirit among the participants was warm and collaborative.”