Byron of Hearts and Minds Bookstore threw down the gauntlet for me to report on The Calvin Festival of Faith and Writing, and I'M NOT READY-- mostly because I'm nursing a terrible sore throat and I am overdue for a writing deadline, and it's spring break so there is noooooo time alone... But, I quickly copied a fast report about my experience-- a report written for my fellow MFA students.
Two threads intertwine in my evaluation of the Calvin Festival: one is simply being a part of the world of writers and the world of writers with spiritual leanings. I saw a number of old friends, and met people who know my childhood landscapes. That would be good enough, but the MFA group is even better. Sitting around at one a.m. listening to one another read our own writings and our favorite pieces of poetry, after we are "all caught up" with one another-- this is my idea of paradise.
The other thread is the scheduled stuff: the program is impressive! I saw a wrenching play called The Women of Lockerbie, and that alone could've required a week of recovery.
Brian Doyle embodies joy, and he's contagious and irreverent while honoring God.
Haven Kimmel is a favorite of mine (ask me sometime, but I've read her entire catalog and I can't wait to open the next), and she is STRANGE, hilarious, and not at all like any other writer-of-faith. Her outsider-ness makes her all the more intriguing. I got to meet her briefly, and spent more time with her mom and her mom's friends.
Meeting Phyllis Tickle was a delight.
I deeply enjoyed Jeffrey Overstreet's presentation Through a Screen Darkly, about movies and meaning-- I hadn't realized the book is more memoir than didactic, and now I need to read it. He sang the closing song of The Muppet Movie, which made me cry-- now how many people can DO that?
And back to that first thread, I don't know how I ended up dining at the corner of the table with poets Paul Mariani and Scott Cairns, and I immediately thought of twenty people who would do anything to trade places with me. It was a charmed evening.
If I start offering thanks and gushing gratitude, this will be the longest and mushiest post ever. I love being a student. I love studying writing. I love and respect my classmates and mentors.
So. I felt like I belong in this "society of writers," which is startling and good. I brought home a short but important stack of signed books. And I'm recovering from all this enthusiasm, still. "Not sleeping ever" netted me an evil sore throat and cold, but I say it was worth it.
Now I need to get back to writing The Greatest Essay Ever, and getting over this cold. Peace to you Byron, and thanks for the nudge.