Festival of Faith and Writing returns to Calvin

What’s so great about three days straight of people sitting around and talking about books? So many things, dear reader, so many things.

The Festival of Faith and Writing is Calvin’s biennial conference about — you guessed it — faith and writing. Bringing in a diverse line-up of novelists, poets, bloggers and more from all walks of faith, the festival hopes to encourage discussion about the intersection between religion and literature.

As professor Dean Ward said, “It’s not unusual to hear Christians lamenting the quality of contemporary Christian writing — with some good reason. … But the collection of writers at Festival show us that there is brilliant writing coming out — writing that is fresh, smart, fun, important and that takes faith seriously, refusing to dodge the hard questions, refusing to fall back on cliche and cloying sentimentality and preciousness. Serious faith is hard; serious writing is hard; at Festival they meet.”

Though of course the festival hosts its share of what we think of as “Christian authors,” who write books upon poems upon essays explicitly about religious topics, plenty of other kinds of writers are featured as well. The festival wants to hear from Christians who do not write about directly “religious” subjects, as well as writers who do not even identify with the Christian faith, or with any faith at all.

And that’s just the point: the festival is an open discussion about how faith and writing go together, so just about any and all voices are welcome to join in.

For a college that is all about cultural discernment and the integration of faith and learning, the festival just seems to be the natural thing to do.

The Festival of Faith and Writing draws in participants of all ages from around the country. Younger-aged students are drawn to young adult authors like Mitali Perkins. College students — both from Calvin and from other colleges nationwide — as well as teachers, writers and avid bookworms of all ages, come for many reasons.

Some can’t get enough of the lectures, readings and panels with featured speakers. Others love the small group discussions with other participants. Still others may aspire to make their own mark in the writing world through giving their own poetry readings or submitting to the poetry competition.

The Festival of Faith and Writing is a particularly special opportunity for Calvin students. As professor Debra Rienstra said, “Festival has changed the way we teach in the English Department over the years. … We are able to connect our students with the current literary scene. We connect them with new and recent books on our course syllabi and, during Festival weekend, we connect students with the authors themselves, in person.”

“Festival has also built up a huge network of connections with publishers, editors and all kinds of book-loving people who now recognize Calvin as an important hub of lively work on the intersection of faith and the literary arts,” Rienstra continued. The Festival of Faith and Writing has grounded Calvin as a literary “hub” and provides students with a unique opportunity to join in the conversation.

Are you bummed because you missed the registration for the Festival of Faith and Writing? Have no fear! There are a number of sessions that are open to the public. Visit the festival’s website at festival.calvin.edu for a list and ticket information. You won’t regret it.