During the fall 2023 semester, PLNU’s Department of Literature, Journalism, Writing & Languages (LJWL) will host a reading that celebrates the recent poetry collections published by Emma McCoy (23), Katie Manning, Ph.D., and Margarita Pintado Burgos, Ph.D.

The reading is just one of many examples of how students and faculty alike, often across many disciplines, are supported in their creative endeavors. It’s this encouragement that has created a community of people who come together to ask deep questions and think critically, often through different types of writing.

Pintado, a professor of Spanish, shared in amazement about how much innovative and original work happens within the department, as well as from other members of the PLNU community who also come to share and learn. “It’s amazing, challenging, and inspiring,” she said. “We have colleagues and students publishing their work all year round, which helps in creating a community of writers where everyone can participate as equals and learn from each other.”

The Latest Publications 

McCoy wrote her chapbook, In Case I Live Forever, during the COVID-19 pandemic while thinking about what it would be like to “not really have to worry about death.” The 25 poems included in this work follow a character named Asharru. “The collection follows her from birth (early Mesopotamia) to when she meets another immortal like her (on the Mexican American border),” McCoy shared. “I wanted to explore an uncertain immortality and what it would mean to live forever alone and, at times, with others.” 

Manning’s latest poetry collection How to Play is composed of poems that all use games as their starting point. “The poems aren’t really about the games though,” she explained, “they’re about relationships, memory, language, love, and more. Some get serious, and some are pretty funny (judging from the way people laugh when I read them aloud).” One of the poems in the collection was started over 10 years ago and slowly built over time, giving Manning significance to be sharing the published work now. 

Pintado’s poetry book, Simultánea, la marea (Simultaneous, the tide), is divided into three sections. She describes it by saying: “The first one focuses on the landscape (ocean, mostly); the second one deals with the domestic (home, family; and the third one is more about romantic love and nature, or the relation between romantic love and nature (a garden and flowers, not ocean here).” She reflects on what it means to be far away from her country and family, reflecting on becoming used to a new ocean, and then brings the reader into her own introspection about feelings of separation from the world during lockdown. Pintado also celebrates love and looks at what it means to “fall in love repeatedly with the world.” 

Specific Supports From the PLNU LJWL Department 

From events like Writers Gonna Write, a monthly three-hour silent writing time, to the annual Poetry Day and Homecoming Creative Writing Celebration, LJWL offers many opportunities to listen to what others create and be inspired by what they share. 

Annual events like PLNU’s Writer’s Symposium by the Sea especially underscore the value found in the communal elements writing, as well as reading and hearing from one another. The Writer’s Symposium brings notable writers from various genres, backgrounds, and perspectives to share their inspirations, practices for success, and more while people from PLNU and beyond listen and ask questions. There are also specific student supports and opportunities built into the department. The Writers’ Studio is a place students can visit for one-on-one assistance with trained instructors while taking one of PLNU’s college composition courses. There are also several campus publications like the student-run newspaper and creative magazine that encourage members of the larger community to contribute and have their voices heard while also expanding their portfolios and building relationships with others in unique ways.

Writing as a Vocation 

Pintado emphasized the impact of being able to show everyone who comes through the LJWL department the different ways that writing as a vocation helps people to “protect, respect, and develop our call from God.” 

As a literature and English education major with a minor in writing, McCoy shared that her professors have created space for creativity in and out of the classroom. “There are so many ways I’ve received help during the writing process,” she said, from discussing poetry with Pintado to learning about the literary journal scene from Manning. 

Margarita Pintado Burgos (far left) and Emma McCoy (second from right) speak at an LJWL event.

These encouragements and the examples set by professors in the department have inspired McCoy to make time for writing while also spending time with the communities who support her in submitting creative works to various publications.

Encouraging the Larger Community 

“PLNU has always promoted and supported faculty and students in their pursuit of what they see as their vocation, and this upcoming reading celebration is proof of that,” Pintado said, “We hope that by sharing the fruits of our work, more students and professors will be inspired to create, to share, to collaborate, and to rejoice in the work of themselves and others.” 

McCoy explained: “The launch party is a perfect example of the department supporting students. It’s not easy to share your writing and put yourself out there. This goes for poetry, fiction, photography, journalism, and art. LJWL is full of professors who are more than willing to give advice, feedback, and shout your praises when you hit a milestone.” 

“We hope that by sharing the fruits of our work, more students and professors will be inspired to create, to share, to collaborate, and to rejoice in the work of themselves and others.” 

A Collaborative Community 

The celebratory reading of these publications is just one example of how this community finds unique ways to come together and engage with each other’s work. Through the support that faculty and students alike provide, the LJWL department continues to be a place where everyone is welcome to foster meaningful connections and share their creative projects.

Micah Renner is a writer with a passion for helping people tell their stories.