Contributed by John Menier
Listed by Time magazine as one of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2012, Ann Patchett is a true woman of letters: novelist, essayist, anthologist, and co-owner of Parnassus Books in Nashville. Patchett is also a frequent and accomplished public speaker, noted for her anecdotes about the literary life, her insights into the creative process, and her wry wit.
One of Patchett’s favorite topics is the ever-changing relationship between readers and books. As an example she cites her own evolution reading (and re-reading) the works of John Updike, Leo Tolstoy, Pearl Buck, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and others, noting that “the books don’t change, but we do.” Put another way, the reader’s evaluation of a particular book is shaped as much by the reader’s life experience and circumstances as by the work’s innate qualities. As such our appreciation (or lack thereof) for a particular title may change over time, but the consistent commonality among the books we treasure is that they never fail to evoke a strong response. Patchett believes the writer’s primary task is to elicit that response by inviting the reader to become an active participant in their story.
Patchett’s approach to the reading public is refreshingly un-elitist. She stresses the importance of what she calls “gateway drugs,” books of dubious literary worth that may encourage readers to explore other authors and genres. She applauds the success of “trashy” pop novels such as “Fifty Shades of Gray” and “Twilight,” no matter their pedigree, for their role in re-vitalizing book sales and energizing the publishing community. What matters most to Patchett as both author and bookstore owner is that the reading habit is fostered and encouraged, and in that endeavor, there’s no place for snobbery.
Click here to watch An Evening with Ann Patchett
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Join host Dean Nelson as he welcomes three writers to this year’s Writer’s Symposium by the Sea. This annual event at Point Loma Nazarene University presents an evening of interviews conducted by symposium founder Dean Nelson, featuring lively conversations about the inspiration behind the authors’ works. Enjoy cutting edge creators, life stories, examples of great writing, and evocative conversation that will inspire the reader and writer alike.
An Evening with Tracy Kidder
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tracy Kidder reveals his reporting strengths as he describes how he earned the trust of the people he has featured in books such as “Mountains Beyond Mountains,” “House,” “A Truck Full of Money,” “Old Friends,” and “Strength in What Remains.” Kidder shares the joys and doubts of a career in writing with veteran journalist and host Dean Nelson.
An Evening with Robert Pinsky
Former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky describes himself as a “composer” who considers poetry to be first and foremost a vocal art, and his work seeks to blur the distinctions between language and music by emphasizing the rhythms and innate physicality of recited verse in a jazz context. In this performance, Pinsky’s reading is accompanied by a talented trio of PLNU students. The music – a blend of rehearsed and improvised – employs a variety of jazz styles, sometimes sympathetic and sometimes in playful counterpoint, but always responsive to the poet’s distinctive voice.
An Evening with Shauna Niequist
This far-reaching conversation with best-selling author Shauna Niequist offers an honest account of her journey of becoming and evolving as a writer. She shares her love of storytelling and her goal of living life to the fullest, and offers tips for aspiring writers. Niequist’s newest release is “Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic For A Simpler, More Soulful Way Of Living.”
Browse past seasons of Writer’s Symposium by the Sea to watch interviews with Joyce Carol Oates, Anne Lamott, Billy Collins, Mary Karr, and more!
If you are someone that enjoys going behind the scenes with filmmakers, directors, screenwriters and others involved in the film industry, check out the amazing line-up from the Carsey-Wolf Center at UC Santa Barbara.
From the blockbuster to the independent film, you will be treated to fascinating stories and insights into the process of making films from those actually doing it.
Carl Gottlieb – Jaws
Don Hertzfeldt – Two time Oscar-nominated independent filmmaker
Sherief Elkatsha – Cairo Drive
Michael Miner – Robocop
Josh Singer – Spotlight
Iva Radivojevic – Evaporating Borders
and coming soon:
David Gerrold – Star Trek: The Trouble with Tribbles
Browse Carsey-Wolf Center’s Script to Screen to find the writers of your favorite movies.
Cosmologist, noted author, Astronomer Royal and recipient of the 2015 Nierenberg Prize for Science in the Public Interest, Lord Martin Rees has written and spoken extensively about the problems and challenges of the 21st century, and the interfaces between science, ethics and politics. In his words, “we need to broaden our sympathies both in space and time – and perceive ourselves as part of a long heritage, and stewards for an immense future.”
He points out that the current population is 7 billion people, and is projected to grow to 9 billion in 2050. In order to cope with this aging and ever-increasing population, with growing pressure on resources, and with rising global temperatures, Lord Martin Rees stresses that issues of global health and sustainability must stay high on the world’s agenda.
The Nierenberg Prize for Science in the Public Interest was created and is supported by the Nierenberg family to honor the memory of William A. Nierenberg, who was director of Scripps for 21 years. As this year’s recipient, Lord Martin Rees delivers a thought-provoking and insightful perspective on the challenges humanity faces in the future beyond 2050.
Watch Looking Beyond 2050 — On Earth and in Space with Lord Martin Rees.
How to describe the burden of the state-sponsored mass murder on the generation that followed the Holocaust?
Of the many revealing stories shared in this program, one from German-born historian Frank Biess stands out. When he came to St. Louis as a college student, he was struck by the overt patriotism of Americans. As he explains, most Germans of the post-Holocaust era were so squeamish about appearing too nationalistic that they would never fly their country’s flag in front of their home because it could suggest support for the Neo-Nazis. The one notable exception? Flags were okay if the German soccer team was doing well in the World Cup.
Watch Frank Biess on American Patriotism.
Hear additional accounts of the Holocaust’s shadow on contemporary Germans on The UC San Diego Library Channel. Watch Growing Up in the Shadow of the Holocaust.