The Department of Language and Literature will be hosting “An Evening with Johnny Wink: Stories and Poems” in honor of Dr. Johnny Wink and Dr. Susan Wink, both professors of English. The event will start at 4 p.m. and will be located at the Darragh Center Auditorium in the Little Rock Main Library.
The main speaker, Dr. Johnny Wink, will share some of his works at the gathering. He has been writing poetry ever since he started teaching at Ouachita.
“All of my time during grad school, I never thought of myself as a writer—except maybe to write scholarly papers,” Wink said. “And I got here, to Ouachita, in 1973. . . and for some reason, those first couple of years that I was here, they [poems] just kept flowing out of me as I would walk to school. It seemed like every time I would walk to school, I’d get some sort of idea, and I’d go scribbling.”
Dr. Doug Sonheim, chair of the department of language and literature, is one of the coordinators of the event. There were a few reasons he and his colleagues decided to hold this poetry night.
“We–members of the department–thought of how much we enjoyed each other’s company, the company of our students and our colleagues, past and present,” Sonheim said. “We feel Johnny and Susan have brought so much intelligence, wit and high-level scholarship that we should celebrate. It comes down to being thankful for a great gift, the gift of their friendship and professional companionship for so many years.”
Another reason is to introduce a new scholarship opportunity for Ouachita students. It is named after Dr. Johnny and Dr. Susan Wink and will be awarded to those majoring in English.
“We’re about halfway to the goal, at which point we can begin to award it to deserving students,” Sonheim said. “Over the years, we’ve had so many fine students, young people who love to read and write and who really ‘get it’ when it comes to a life devoted to understanding our human condition. Students who study language and literature want to understand the human world and our gifted life as human beings; this scholarship will make that a little bit easier, and not just for the financial help, but also for the moral encouragement to go against the cultural current, to swim upstream and major in the humanities.”
Both Wink and Sonheim agree that the event is meant to bring old friends back together and to possibly make new friends as well.
“Think of the joy you feel at a wedding reception or at a graduation,” Sonheim said. “Something big happens, and you dance and sing and hold someone’s hand. That’s what we want. When Johnny and Susan first came to Ouachita, something big started happening. It’s still happening. If you feel that, and are happy, then we’ll be happy, too.”
– By Sarah Hays, staff writer