Tobias Wolf Makes Apperance at the Literary Arts Festival

Michael Covington

The 17th annual Grossmont College Literary Arts Festival at Grossmont College is an event that celebrates the written word and helps display student writing while also bringing in important writers from every facet of the literary community.

This year, the keynote speaker and headliner for the event was acclaimed short story author and novelist Tobias Wolff. Wolff is primarily known for his collection of short stories entitled In the Garden of the North American Martyrs, his auto biography This Boy’s Life, and his Novel Old School.

Mr. Wolff spoke at the Griffin Gate on Wednesday May 1st, delivering a short speech before reading several passages from his short stories including one of his most famous, Bullet to the Brain. Mr. Wolff then proceeded with a question and answer session; answering questions on his work, the process of becoming a writer and his own personal experiences with the literary community.

Tobais Wolf with his book “Our Story Begins”
Photo by Michael Covington

After the Q&A session, Mr. Wolff had some advice for aspiring writers, “Do it! You can’t become a writer by thinking about being a writer, a writer has to write, so write. And be patient with yourself, don’t expect your first efforts to be glorious or even very successful.”  While he was in San Diego Tobias Wolff said that he went down to Ocean Beach and body-surfed, and that if he ever came back that he’d like to learn how to surf “for real.”

The same day the student of Grossmont College held a student reading of his short stories, and works inspired by his words. All of the students discussed the various books that they had read over the semester that were written by Mr. Wolff, and then select students read their own pieces about Tobias’ work.

Awards were also given out at the start of the presentation to students who had demonstrated academic excellence at last years’ “Writeathon” a fundraising event the English department holds every year to raise money for the Literary Arts festival. Additional funding was also provided by creative writing alumni Bennetta Buell-Wilson, who donated $10,000 to help get Mr. Wolff to Grossmont.

As for next years’ literary arts festival Chair of the English Department Dr. Oralee Holder said, “We already have a clue to who our keynote speaker might be for next spring, and that would be Louisa Erdrich.”