Aquinas College Celebrates the 22nd Year of its Contemporary Writers Series with Four Nationally Acclaimed Writers

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The Contemporary Writers Series at Aquinas College is celebrating its 22nd year by bringing back four prominent, nationally acclaimed writers to campus. The writers, who span multiple genres, will perform live public readings from the Wege Ballroom in addition to working with students to ignite creativity and passion for the arts.

Brendan Kiely will present on Thursday, September 27 at 7:30 p.m. in the Wege Ballroom (second floor of the Wege Center). The reading is free and open to the general public.

Brendan Kiely is The New York Times' bestselling author of All American Boys (with Jason Reynolds), The Last True Love Story, and The Gospel of Winter. His work has been published in ten languages, received a Coretta Scott King Author Honor Award, the Walter Dean Myers Award, the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award, was twice awarded Best Fiction for Young Adults (2015, 2017) by the American  Library Association, and was a Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2014. Originally from the Boston area, he now lives with his wife in New York City. Tradition (May 2018) is his fourth novel.

The 2018-19 lineup includes:

All readings are free, open to the public and begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Wege Ballroom, unless otherwise noted on the Aquinas event calendar.

To-date, eighty writers of all literary genres have brought their talents and inspiration to more than 17,000 students and community members. Writers span multiple genres, including poetry, narrative (short story and novel), creative non-fiction, theater, journalism and young adult literature.

The annual series of literary readings was inaugurated in 1979 by Dr. Tony Foster and Ms. Linda Nemec Foster and an endowment was established. The goal of the endowment is to make the Contemporary Writers Series self-sustaining and a permanent feature of the West Michigan arts scene.

The Fosters wanted to make the Contemporary Writers Series financially independent so it is always free and open to the public. “We felt that the whole city of Grand Rapids, being the second largest city in the state, should have this literary resource available,” explained Nemec Foster. “In addition to the Aquinas community, we wanted this series to benefit the community at large. We are really pleased to be able to do this."

The idea for the series started in 1995 when Nemec Foster, a published and well-known poet, realized how much she would have benefited from meeting national writers on campus when she was an Aquinas student in the early 1970s. Nemec Foster realized how valuable it is for budding writers to experience live readings, and sought to establish a series at Aquinas College.

Over time, the generosity of the Fosters and donations from friends of the series has grown, and it is now supported by a permanent endowment.

For more information on how to become a Friend of the Series or to be added to our mailing list, contact the CWS Director at Visit us online at