My Festival of Faith & Writing Festival Circle: Holy Grounds — The Role of Place in Your Spiritual and Literary Life

9 Mar

As I mentioned a while back, I’ll be leading a Festival Circle this year at the Festival of Faith & Writing held at Calvin College.  It’s a tremendous honor to have been selected to facilitate a discussion group at this prestigious writing conference, where so many authors I admire will be speaking.

In case you’re unfamiliar with what Festival Circle is, here’s how FFW describes it:

This year, we are once again offering Festival Circles, small groups that will meet at least two times during the Festival to discuss a topic of common interest. Each circle, composed of approximately 12–15 attendees and led by a Festival participant, will meet during Thursday dinner and Saturday lunch. Because the circles are scheduled to meet at the same time, it’s possible for attendees to participate in only one.

They go on to explain its purpose:

We hope that Festival Circles will give you a place to connect with other attendees, and to deepen and extend your experience of the Festival.

I want to share with you the description of the Festival Circle that I’m hosting:

Holy Grounds: The Role of Place in Your Spiritual and Literary Life
By looking at what the Bible has to say about the setting of a story, this circle will encourage participants to carefully consider the role of place in their writing, and challenge them to see how different locations affect a story’s style and content.

Facilitator: Stephanie Nikolopoulos
Bio: Stephanie Nikolopoulos (www.StephanieNikolopoulos.com) has worked in book publishing in Manhattan for ten years, is the visual arts editor for Burnside Writers Collective, and is a co-leader of the Writers Group at the Center for Faith & Work at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York; her writing has appeared in magazines, newspapers, and books across the country.

I’m genuinely passionate about the multi-faceted subject of place.  I wrote about place for my undergrad thesis at Scripps College, my Burnside Writers Collective column Church Hopping talks about the architecture of unique and beautiful places, the travelogue I wrote an introduction to obviously has a strong emphasis on place, the nonfiction book Burning Furiously Beautiful I’m co-authoring describes how the landscape and history of place affected one of America’s greatest novels, and the memoir I’m writing deals very much with place. My resume aside, I love traveling.  I moved out to California for college without ever even visiting the state first.  I’m the child of an immigrant so place has always played an important role in my identity, in my understanding of who I am and where I come from.

Place isn’t always about a physical place, though.  Place can be a mood, a mental space, a spiritual space.  Place can be about a journey, whether that means hopping a train, opening a book and getting lost in the imagination of an author, being moved to tears, learning something about yourself, understanding the world better, or opening yourself up to a new relationship.  A journey from point A to point B isn’t always a single straight line.  This is true for a traveler (even Jack Kerouac had an infamous setback when he first set off on the road), for a writer (hello, thesis draft number 452), or for a person of faith (Paul went around killing Christians before he went on the road to Damascus and saw the light; as a boy David may have killed Goliath but as an adult he committed adultery … and had the woman’s husband killed; Peter adamantly denied even knowing Christ and then became a martyr).  As the old Paula Abdul song goes, two steps forward, two steps back….

With all that in mind, know that I am on a journey too.  I simply want to walk alongside other writers and talk about the meaning of place in all areas of our lives.  If you would like to join my Festival Circle or any of the others, you can find out how to do so here.

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One Response to “My Festival of Faith & Writing Festival Circle: Holy Grounds — The Role of Place in Your Spiritual and Literary Life”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. My Year in Review: 2012 « Stephanie Nikolopoulos - January 4, 2013

    […] to catch up with the other editors and writers, whom I just adore. I also had the opportunity to teach a writing workshop while I was […]

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