The Jack Ridl Visiting Writers Series kicks off soon: Here’s how to get involved!

If you’re looking for a way to engage with great literature, talented writers and thoughtful community, the Jack Ridl Visiting Writers Series (JRVWS) might be the perfect opportunity. This fall, Hope College will be hosting three award-winning authors—Mira Bartók, Heather Sellers and Julia Alvarez—to give readings of their work and share insights in a Q&A session. Their writing spans a multitude of genres, from middle-grade fiction to memoir to historical novels. Their excellence and creativity have brought them critical recognition both in the U.S. and beyond. When they visit campus this fall, you’ll have the chance not only to attend their readings but to spend time with them behind the scenes by volunteering with the JRVWS. 

Although the JRVWS is organized by faculty, it relies on student volunteers to make events run smoothly and build excitement within the campus community. Students deliver introductions at readings, take photos, sell books and escort visiting writers to and from events. Students who help out with the JRVWS also get invited to meals with the authors, allowing them to connect with great writers and peers who share a love of literature. When asked why students should consider getting involved, JRVWS organizer Professor Childress said, “As a volunteer for the Visiting Writers Series, you not only get to personally interact with nationally and internationally renowned writers who come to campus, you’ll also find yourself smack in the middle of an exhilarating literary community: people who love to read and write, are creating and risking artistically, are challenging the status quo in all kinds of ways, who nerd out about the power and beauty of words. We’d love to have you join us!” 

The first volunteer meeting will be on Monday, Sept. 16 at 8:30 in Lubbers 120, and anyone with an interest is encouraged to attend. Pizza and “H” cookies will be served. Faculty and interns will be starting to organize volunteers for the first JRVWS event of the school year: the visit of Mira Bartók and Heather Sellers on Tuesday, Oct. 1. No commitment is expected of anyone who attends, but you’ll be able to hear about the different volunteer opportunities that are available. While these events often attract English majors, this fall’s lineup of writers has created a diverse body of work with the potential to appeal to students across disciplines. The Visiting Writers Series is all about exposing students to a wide variety of literary voices, and your voice can be part of this conversation as well. Whether you’re a freshman or a senior, whether you think of yourself as a writer or not, whether you want to get more involved or simply attend the events, the faculty and interns who coordinate bringing these writers to campus want you to participate in the JRVWS.


Claire Buck ('22) is a Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Hope College Anchor. As an English major and a pre-med student, she gets excited whenever she finds places where science and storytelling intersect. When she's not editing articles or wrestling with WordPress, she enjoys wandering around farmers' markets, writing sonnets, and baking bread for her housemates.

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