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Festival of Faith and Writing Celebrates 25 Years


Just a few days after a snowfall, Grand Rapids, Mich., welcomed spring with sunshine and the Festival of Faith and Writing, a three-day conference that honors the shaping of words and faith. Participants traded in snow boots and jackets for T-shirts and shorts and traipsed around the Calvin College campus watching for the green buds and listening for stories.

The festival opened with a short service commissioning the new Calvin Center for Faith and Writing co-directors, Jennifer Holberg and Jane Zwart. Keynote speakers at the Festival included Zadie Smith, George Saunders, Tobias Wolff, and Nadia Bolz-Weber.

Adele Konyndyk, the web editor of Relief Journal, had a hard time picking out the highlight of the conference. However, she said, “One of the poems that Christian Wiman read included the phrase, ‘a grace of sparks.’ For me, that phrase fits the Festival well, since the experience always generates new ideas, relationships, and visions of beauty.”

Celebrating its 25th year, the biennial conference offered sessions on book making, how to write for children and teens, poetry and motherhood, and more. There was plenty of time to browse what many publishing houses had on offer in the Exhibit Hall in the Prince Conference Center.

“This was my first trip to the Festival,” said professor and poet Jill Reid. “Its reputation alone was enough to pull me across the country from Louisiana to be among other people who love words and carefully crafted sentences as much as I do. As a writer and a person of faith in Christ, I long for the sort of rich and thoughtful intersections between art and faith I experienced at Calvin.”

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