the post calvin began in July of 2013 with a simple goal: be a space for young Calvin alum to keep in touch, practice their craft, and talk about what life is like post-graduation. Since then, the space has hosted over two hundred different writers as regular contributors or guests, and the age limit of thirty has kept things perennially fresh. Seven years later, editors Abby Zwart, Josh deLacy, and Will Montei are bumping up against that limit, and it’s time to pass this space on to the next generation. Read below for a goodbye from the current staff and an introduction to the new editorial board.
A goodbye from the newly-former post calvin editors
You know how you feel on that the day of a vacation? The whole trip was day after day of sunshine or hiking or pasta puttanesca. You got to spend time with your family or friends, get away from work, and read the book that’s been on your list forever. But on that last day, when you’re a little sunburned and out of clean underwear, you’re really just ready to go home.
The three of us are on that last day of vacation. We’ve had a good run, and it’s time to go home.
The trip has been so rewarding, full of experiences and time with people we have come to love. The wonderful thing about the post calvin, we’ve found, isn’t so much the opportunity to publish your ramblings to the world—it’s getting to know people, however far away they may be, and following along in their lives for a season. We saw depths in each other that only writing would or could reveal. We’d like to think that we could recognize something each of you has written even without your name at the top.
We’ve been able to collaborate, but in an independent way—the post calvin feels like group work for introverts. One of our favorite things from the start has been how little themes crop up organically—someone writes about feeling stuck, and then someone else responds, even indirectly, with a story about getting unstuck. The themes we set for you, be they topic suggestions or format restrictions, are always a joy to read as well, full of creativity and the quirks that make you you. We’ve all created something new from a lot of little pieces, something that isn’t big or profitable (although—Josh is a little too proud of this stat—the website has had 933,882 pageviews), and we’ve discovered that a lot of you cared deeply about this same place, too.
There have also been some hiccups and frustrations, as with any trip. We’re all human, and we make grammar mistakes and Abby misses them, or we forget to send a post, or no one comments on a post we slaved over, or we’re just really bored with our own minds. Plus, all of this is happening virtually, long before COVID made that normal, and the distance makes things tricky. When a writer retires, we feel like we’ve lost a good friend, but we also realize we didn’t ever really know most of you. Your profile picture is the image we have of you, even if it’s five years old. We’ve been privy to some of your most intimate moments, but we don’t know how you smell, or what your favorite shirt looks like, or how it sounds when you’re making dinner.
When we gathered on Zoom to pass the hotel keys to the new editorial team—as excited as we were to sit back and see what the post calvin would become—a strange feeling pervaded the encounter. Was this really the end? What would life look like now without this small sense of purpose knitting us together? Will the three of us still gab with each other in the “post calvin besties” message thread that Will created years ago? (Yes, we do gossip about you sometimes—all in love.) As young-ish people, there isn’t really anything we’ve done continuously for seven years other than go to school or love our grandparents. We haven’t yet had jobs or romantic relationships that long, and so to “abandon” this project feels like a special kind of loss.
Except it isn’t over. We’re so glad to have a new team of writers willing to curate this space for the next few days of vacation. They probably have some new ideas about how to run the thing, and maybe they know a great local restaurant tucked away somewhere down the beach. We’ll still be here, looking at your vacation photos and observing from afar, and we’re excited to see what you do next. But for now, we’re really ready to go home.
Have a great trip,
A hello from the new post calvin editors
Hey all! If you’ve read my pieces, you probably already know most of the important things about me: my fraught identity as a teacher (I’m teaching online in a virtual school now! Computer Science! Will let you know how it goes), my journey through losing my mom, my love of books and libraries, and my inability to stop bringing up my housemates in nearly every piece I write. If you haven’t, well, that’s me in a nutshell.
I’ve only been writing here for a year, but it’s become a special place for me: one where I can share my voice and read about all of your lives. I’ve written on a personal blog before, but it’s much more meaningful (and stressful) when you know people who don’t exactly know you are going to be reading your stuff. I appreciate how your lives are all so different from mine yet are all connected to mine by these two thin lines of the post calvin and our shared status as Calvin College/University alumni.
I’m grateful to Abby, Will, and Josh (deLacy) for cultivating this space, and I’m delighted to be working alongside Josh (Parks) and Annaka to keep the post calvin growing. Most of all, I’m excited to see how you all shape this place through the words you write and the lives you live.
I’ll see you around!
I was supposed to be starting a new journey this week: my first week at Princeton Theological Seminary, my first time living outside West Michigan, my first time sharing living quarters with no one but my spouse. But COVID wreaked its now-trademark havoc on those plans, and instead I’m still here in Grand Rapids, living with some marvellously generous friends and starting a very different kind of journey: my first year out of school since I was four. I’m already feeling disoriented, and I’m working on finding new reasons to do the things I love, especially reading and writing. When we newbies met with Will, Abby, and Josh last week, that’s how they summarized the purpose of the post calvin: to give recent graduates, syllabus-free at last, a place and a reason to keep writing. I’m going to need that reason more than ever this year, and I’m guessing I’m not the only one. Thank you, outgoing board, for entrusting us with your literary baby. Thank you, writers, for making this a place worth sustaining. And thanks in advance, Alex and Annaka, for sharing all the joys and sorrows of shepherding the post calvin through the rest of 2020 (yikes) and beyond (hurray!).
For those of you who don’t know me, I am a mild-mannered librarian by day and a milder-mannered librarian by night. Librarianship is something I fell in to; one of my housemates my senior year at Calvin mentioned that he was thinking about going to library school, I looked it up and found out the University of Michigan didn’t require the GRE, and because I didn’t know what else to do with myself, I went to grad school (n.b.: This is a terrible reason to go to grad school). I don’t know why you wanted to write for the post calvin, but I did it because it would force me to write something—just a little, only once a month—now that I was leaving behind the strictures and necessary discipline of higher ed. I did it because it was something not to just fall into.
So thanks for indulging me these past twelve months, and I look forward to learning your stories in the months to come. They’re worth hearing about.
P.S. Clive, my pet land snail, woke up from a four-month hibernation during our old/new editorial boards Zoom call. I’m not superstitious, but that seems like a good sign.
Abby Zwart (’13) teaches high school English in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She spends her free time making lists of books she should read, cooking, and managing the post calvin.