Tag Archives: Festival of Faith and Writing

I’m Mentioned in Sojourners

11 Jun

Oh my gosh!  I forgot to mention back in April that I was mentioned in Sojourners!!  Such an honor.

My Burnside Writers Collective colleague Larry Shallenberger, whom I attended the Festival of Faith and Writing with, wrote the article “On the Need to Start an Ole Boys’ Club For Writers” about strong women literary voices, and there was my name alongside Kim Gottschild, Rachel Held-Evans, Sarah Thebarge, Karen Spears Zacharias, Jo Hilder, and Susan Isaacs.  I’m so fortunate to be part of a collective that has strong literary voices — both male and female — and that is an incredible support network.

In the article, Larry mentions my work in writing about Jack Kerouac.  It’s so interesting that he specifically mentioned this, as opposed to my visual arts writing for Burnside, because the Beat Generation has often been criticized for not being more open to women’s voices.  Furthermore, so many women have told me they don’t enjoy reading Kerouac because of his hyper-masculinity.

Larry blogs about things like, oh, “God Talk and the Stenciling on an Atomic Bomb” and “The Personality Bending Power of Story.”

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Photos of the Burnside Writers Collective at FFW

26 Apr

front, right: Jordan Green, Editor in Chief.

middle row, left to right:  Kim Gottschild, managing editor; Diane Nienhuis contributer (and personal website)

back row, left to right: Stephanie Nikolopoulos, visual arts editor; Larry Shallenberger, contributor (and personal website)

left to right: Larry Shallenberger, contributor; Kim Gottschild, managing editor; me.

 

Left to right: Me, Diane Nienhuis contributer;  and Larry Shallenberger, contributer

 

I had such a fun time hanging out with the Burnside Writers Collective at the Festival of Faith & Writing!  Some of them I hadn’t seen in years, some I saw at the last Festival, some I saw when they last came through New York, and some I met only for the first time at the Festival even though I’d been working with them for years. Allof them are amazingly talented writers with huge hearts and are loads of fun.

While I was “working the booth” (fancy speak for chatting with all the cool writers and editors that stopped by our table at the Festival of Faith & Writing), I talked with a lot of people who were intrigued by the concept of a collective.  Burnside Writers Collective is not just a website.  We’re not just individual writers posting articles.  We’re a collective.  A team.  Our work is collaborative, both in the sense that there are a lot of people dedicated to behind-the-scenes work to make it possible for the website to exist and exist well, and in the sense that all of our individual work and varied opinions adds up to something bigger than just ourselves.  We’re also a community.  Writers, editors, and readers share with each other, get to know each other, meet each other.

Writing is such a solitary endeavor.  It suits many of us because we’re introverted.  Almost everyone I spoke to claimed to be an introvert, meaning we get our energy from alone time rather than in the public.  It does not mean that everyone is shy, though.  A festival full of introverts is still boisterous, is still loud, is still frenetic.  Maybe it’s because we’ve finally lifted our faces from our books, and our eyes are no longer glazed over from the glare of a computer screen.  We’ve emerged to find kindred spirits in other writers–and it feels good!  Since so many of us spend our days and nights writing, alone, we are oftentimes looking for community.  That’s what makes Burnside Writers Collective so attractive.  The people who write for and read Burnside tend to come back again and again, to stick around and join the conversation, to share their dissenting opinions, their encouragement, their feelings.  That said, we’re always looking for new writers!  As the visual arts editor, I’m looking for people who can write about arts trends, review new exhibits at galleries, interview artists, and share their art.  Email me at snikolop {@} alumna.scrippscollege.edu if you’re interested.

I miss the Burnsiders already….  Looking forward to seeing you all at the next Festival of Faith & Writing!

 

Here’s Larry’s “Brain Dump” on FFW.

 

Note: This article was edited to include names of people and Larry’s Brain Dump post.

Michigan Writers

19 Apr

Do you think writers are defined by where they were born?  Where they live?  By whether or not they’ve moved?  By how much they’ve traveled?

Yesterday, I wrote about how at the Faith & Writing Festival Circle we’ll be discussing is the idea of how where you write can actually affect your writing.  Today, I’m bringing you another little preview.  This time on writers from Michigan.

I’ve only been to Michigan the one other time I was at the Festival of Faith & Writing, and from what I’ve seen, it’s pretty unique.  It’s a rather large and diverse state.  Michigan is definitely Midwest — so different from where I grew up on the East Coast.  Yet each city and town seems to have its own culture and identity.  I think if two people from Michigan meet they’d probably judge each other based on where they live.

Yet, Michigan seems integral to America’s history as a whole because of the car industry in Detroit and the way cars began to define a certain type of American identity.

Below is a list of Michigan writers.

 

Books Set in Michigan or Written by Michigan Authors

  • Mitch Albom, born in New Jersey and now lives in Detroit, is the author of Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven.
  • John Malcolm Brinnin, raised in Detroit, is the poet credited with bringing Dylan Thomas to the US.
  • Bruce Campbell, born in Royal Oak (MI), wrote a New York Times bestselling autobiography; he also has written a novel and writes about the film industry and politics.
  • Jeffrey Eugenides, born in Detroit, is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Middlesex.  His most recent book is The Marriage Plot.
  • M. F. K. Fisher, born in Albion (MI), is a preeminent food writer.
  • Robert Frost, moved to Ann Arbor for a teaching fellowship at the University of Michigan, and his home can be viewed at The Henry Ford museum near Detroit.
  • Nancy Hull is a Calvin College professor and children’s book author.
  • Jerry B. Jenkins, born in Kalamazoo (MI), is the co-author of the Left Behind series.
  • Ring Lardner, born in Niles (MI), is best known as the author of the baseball novel You Know Me Al; he was also a friend of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s.
  • Elmore Leonard, raised in Detroit, is the author of Get Shorty.
  • Philip Levine, born in Detroit, is the 2011 – 2012 Poet Laureate for the US; the Pulitzer Prize winner is known for writing poems about Detroit’s working class.
  • Joyce Carol Oates, born in New York and lived in Detroit for a decade, is a three-time Pulitzer Prize nominee and the winner of a National Book Award for Them.
  • Theodore Roethke, born in Saginaw (MI), is the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet of The Waking and the National Book Award for Poetry winner for Words for the Wind and The Far Field.  His immigrant father owned a greenhouse, and Roethke went on to use natural imagery in his work.
  • Gary D. Schmidt is a Calvin College professor and children’s book author.
  • Freshwater Boys, by Michigan author Adam Schuitema, is a collection of short stories about Michigan.

Who are your favorite Michigan-based authors?

Places to Write, Drink Coffee, and Buy Books in Grand Rapids

18 Apr

As most of you know, at the Festival of Faith & Writing I’ll be leading a Festival Circle called Holy Grounds: The Role of Place in Your Spiritual and Literary Life.  One of the things we’ll be discussing is the idea of how where you write can actually affect your writing.

We’ll be talking about writing in such places as quiet home offices, caffeine-fueled coffeehouses, musty old libraries, in the serene beauty of nature, awe-inspiring churches, on the subway, in prison, and while you’re traveling.  Where do you like to write?

I’ll be providing those who registered for the Holy Grounds Festival Circle with a list of literary(-ish) places near Calvin College in Grand Rapids.  Places to relax, get inspiration, study Midwestern scenery and characters, and write.  A lot of us are traveling from out of state so I thought this list would be helpful.  There are plenty of places on campus to write and grab a cup of coffee, and the Festival will probably keep everyone busy enough that they won’t need this list, but sometimes it’s nice to break free from the bubble and see something outside the Festival grounds.  This list may also be helpful to writers who live in the area and are looking for a change of scenery from where they normally write.  I haven’t actually been to any of these places, so tread carefully!  Haha.  If you’re a Michigan writer, tell us your recommended writing places, coffee shops, bookstores, and literary havens.

Literary(-ish) places in Grand Rapids:

Ladies Literary Club (now a performing arts center)

61 Sheldon Blvd SE

Grand Rapids, MI 49503

(616) 459-6322

 

Bookstores in Grand Rapids

Argos Book Shop – Grand Rapids’ Oldest and Largest Used Book Shop!

1405 Robinson Rd SE; Grand Rapids, MI 49506-1722
616-454-0111

argos@argosbooks.com

Business Hours: Monday to Saturday: 10am to 6pm; Sunday: Noon to 3:00 pm


Family Christian Bookstores

3343 Alpine Ave. NW, #A; Grand Rapids, MI

 616-784-7179

 

Literary Life Bookstore & More

758 Wealthy Street SE (the southwest corner of Wealthy and Eastern); Grand Rapids, MI

Business Hours: Monday – Saturday: 10am to 8pm; Sunday closed

 

Schuler Books & MusicCelebrating 30 years as your local, independent bookstore!
2660 28th Street SE; Grand Rapids, MI 49512
616-942-2561
info@schulerbooks.com
bookgroupsgr@schulerbooks.com
Manager: Tim@schulerbooks.com

Business Hours: Monday to Saturday: 9am to 10pm; Sunday: 10am to 7pm

 

Schuler Books & Music
40 Fountain N.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Phone: 616-459-7750
Promotions: Emily@schulerbooks.com
Manager: Neil@schulerbooks.com

Business Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday: 9am to 6pm; Thursday and Friday: 9am to 8pm; Saturday and Sunday: 11am to 5pm

 

Coffeehouses in Grand Rapids

76 Coffee

1507 Wealthy St SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49506

616-301-2226

 

Ferris Coffee & Nut

227 Winter Avenue NW; Grand Rapids, MI 49504

616-459-6257

 

Rowster New American Coffee

632 Wealthy Street, SE; Grand Rapids, MI 49503

(616) 780-7777

info@newamericancoffee.com
Business Hours: Monday to Friday: 7am – 7pm; Saturday: 9am – 5pm; Sunday: 11am – 3pm.


West Coast Coffee

55 Monroe Center NW; Grand Rapids MI 49503

Business Hours: Monday to Friday: 6:30am – 5:00pm; Saturday: 9am to 5pm; Sundays: closed

  

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.

BWC Headed to FFW FTW (That’s an Inside Joke)

23 Jan

Burnside Writers Collective is headed back to the Festival of Faith and Writing!

Our lovely associate editor Kim Gottschild posted all about it on Burnside, highlighting why you should go:

  • Attend a writing workshop led by our very own Arts Editor, Stephanie Nikolopoulos!
  • Hear our very own Susan Isaacs, author of Angry Conversations with God, speak!
  • Meet our Deputy Editor, John Pattison, who will be there hosting a breakout session on book reviewing with ERB Editor-in-Chief, Chris Smith!
  • Hear plenary speaker, author Jonathan Safran Foer and watch BWC Editor-in-Chief Jordan Green become his best friend!  JK.
  • Meet other fantastic Burnsiders like Social Justice Editor Penny Carothers, Diane Nienhuis, Associate Editor Sara Sterley, Betsy Zabel, and me!
  • Pick up some swag, like a bookmark or something!

So sweet of her to mention me by name. Check back on this blog soon for more information on my workshop.

I truly love working with Burnside and getting to meet all the people I work with but don’t usually get to see.  I have the privilege of working with some of the most talented and funny and sincere people.  I had such a blast with them last time.

It’s also really fun meeting readers.  Hope you’ll consider joining us!  Drop me a line in the comments if you plan on being there and make sure to stop by our table to say hi!

As if meeting the Burnside staff isn’t enough, Ruben Martinez, Gary Schmidt, Marilynne Robinson, Kathryn Erskine, Shane Claiborne, and many more award-winning, high-profile authors will be there.

Writing Wednesday: Brooklyn Book Festival 2011

28 Sep

New York’s largest free literary event took place on Sunday, September 18.  That’s right — the Brooklyn Book Festival!

My writer cohort and I had such a blast zig-zagging through the tents, ducking into readings, creeping close to authors, poring over books, and running into people we knew.  She introduced me to John Woo of the Magnetic Fields.  We ran into another friend from Little, Brown and Company, who instead of going the MFA route is doing his Masters in Publishing at NYU.  I saw Alisa Harris, whom I used to work with at Patrol, and who now has her own book out.

On the speaker side of things, I got to hear my writing mentors Phillip Lopate and Darcey Steinke.  I also got to hear Mary Karr, whom I had also heard speak at FFW.  Plus so many other great speakers.

 

 

I spied my writing colleague Susan E. Isaac‘s memoir on the Greenlight Bookstore table at Brooklyn Book Fest.

 

…as well as Greek American Tina Fey‘s memoir.

 

Christian Resolutions

20 Jan

Part 2 of my look at New Year’s resolutions was published on Burnside Writers Collective yesterday.  In part 1, I asked “Does God Laugh at Our Resolutions?”  Now in part 2, I look at “Christian Resolutions.”  It starts:

I’m tempted to write a satire called Christian New Year’s Resolutions.  It would go something like this:

  1. Pray without ceasing.  Ever.
  2. Don’t watch secular television.
  3. Become a physically fit Proverbs 31 woman.
  4. Read the bible every day and nothing besides it.
  5. Go to church every Sunday.

Is there such a thing as Christian New Year’s Resolutions?

You can read the rest on Burnside.

I started to have some self-doubt about my writing–this piece included but writing in general–and I’m so encouraged by the comments I received on this article.

Larry Shallenberger, author of the books Divine Intention: How God’s Work in the Early Church Empowers Us Today and Lead the Way God Made You, said, “If there were a “like” button, I’d have pushed it.”

Diane Nienhuis, a Burnside writer and food blogger whom I met at the Festival of Faith & Writing at Calvin College (she picked me up at the airport, she’s so sweet!), wrote, “Well said, Stephanie! Beautiful!”  She also shared some of her own resolutions.

Michael D. Bobo, who tackles a highly controversial work of art in his thought-provoking piece “Ants on a Crucifix,” currently featured on Burnside, and as it turns out writes the Claremont Christianity Examiner, which is in the California town where I went to undergrad (small world!), said, “Thanks Steph for getting us back to the basics in 2011.”

And, my editor, Jordan Green, said, “This is tremendous, as if that would be a surprise coming from Stephanie.”  Wow.  Jordan recently cowrote the book Besides the Bible: 100 Books that Have, Should, or Will Create Christian Culture and just wrote what is probably the most thorough review of the new IFC show Portlandia there is.  Incidentally, I once met Jordan in Portland.  (We did not Kombucha tea.) (PS. Check back here tomorrow for a bit of trivia on the Greek influence on Portlandia.)

Anyway, the reason I mention all this is two-fold:::

1.  To show my appreciate for the comments I received, I wanted to promote what all these other talented writers are doing.  Check out their links.  Buy their books.  Leave nice comments for them.  They deserve it.

2.  To encourage writers who struggle with self-doubt.  As I mentioned, I was plagued by insecurity and almost deleted the article.  Sometimes my writing is bad.  That’s the way it goes some days.  But sometimes, and I suspect this is true for other writers as well, my writing isn’t as horrible as I imagine it to be.  Sometimes, it might even resonate with someone.  And that’s why I write.