The Inaugural Writer-in-Residence at Calvin University is ... ME! Yippee!

I've attended Calvin's Festival of Faith and Writing several times and have always left feeling validated and renewed in a (1) commitment to furthering justice through the arts, (2) deep love of words and story, and (3) belief in a creative, wondrous, and mysterious God. That's why I'm delighted to announce that I'll be the inaugural Writer-in-Residence this fall in the English Department at Calvin University, teaching a course on creative writing as well as participating in various learning opportunities throughout the month. The press release is below. Hope to see you in person, Michigan friends!

Calvin University's Distinguished Writer-in-Residence Program

A woman smiling with her hands folded in front of a brick backdrop, a Calvin logo on the right
The inaugural Distinguished Writer-in-Residence is National Book Award finalist, Mitali Perkins.

The 2023-2024 academic year brings the launch of an exciting new initiative in the Calvin University English department: a Distinguished Writer-in-Residence program.

Long dreamed of by the department, the Distinguished Writer-in-Residence program “invites exceptional and celebrated authors into our vibrant community, providing students, faculty, and staff unique opportunities to learn from and forge relationships with top-tier literary talents,” according to Provost Noah Toly who encouraged the development of the program.

Each September, a different world-class writer will come to Calvin to teach a creative writing intensive course, to interact with the campus community, and to give lectures both on campus and off. The writer will also be featured at the Festival of Faith & Writing, the signature event of the Calvin Center for Faith & Writing.

Unparalleled access

Jennifer Holberg, chair of the English department, noted that the department is delighted to have this opportunity to welcome not only prestigious writers to Calvin, but to increase the diversity of voices. “We’ll be looking for writers who are border-crossers, who help us continue to expand our notion of the rich story of God’s creation.”

Benita Wolters-Fredlund, academic dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, added “I am especially excited about the fact that, through this program, a typical Calvin creative writing student will have access to four renowned, experienced, and well-connected Christian writers during their time at Calvin. Alongside the biennial Festival of Faith and Writing, this program helps make Calvin distinctive among its peers in offering students access to nationally recognized writers.”

Leading off

The inaugural Distinguished Writer-in-Residence is National Book Award finalist, Mitali Perkins. Born in Kolkata, India, Perkins lived as a child in Ghana, Cameroon, England, and Mexico before her parents settled in California. After studying political science at Stanford and public policy at U.C. Berkeley, she taught in middle school, high school, and college. She and her husband are widely traveled and now reside in the East Bay area of San Francisco.

She is the author of many picture books and novels for young readers, including ones published by Penguin Random House, Charlesbridge, Candlewick, Little Brown, and Macmillan Children's Books. She’s also written a nonfiction book for adults about children's literature, “Steeped in Stories: Timeless Children's Novels to Refresh our Tired Souls.” Her novel “You Bring the Distant Near” was nominated for a National Book Award, and her novel “Rickshaw Girl” was adapted into a film by Sleeperwave Productions. Her latest book, “Hope in the Valley” has received multiple starred reviews in leading publications.

Community events

Mitali Perkins will be giving two free lectures, open to the public. All are welcome, including children ages 9 and above.

JUST CREATIVITY: How to Keep Making Beauty in a Distressed World

  • Tuesday, September 12 @ 7 p.m.
  • Covenant Fine Arts Center Recital Hall at Calvin University

BOOKS AS WINDOWS AND MIRRORS: Rickshaw Girl and Tiger Boy

  • Tuesday, September 19 @ 7 p.m.
  • Center for Community Transformation (1530 Madison SE, GR 49507)

For more information, contact the Calvin Department of English: or 616.526.3645.