Visiting Writers Series Presents Mardi Jo Link on March 28 and 29


Kalamazoo Valley's Visiting Writers series hosts author Mardi Jo Link on Wednesday, March 28 and Thursday, March 29 in the Student Commons Theater at the Texas Township campus. She will read from her work from 10 to 10:45 a.m. both days and she’ll present craft talks from 2:15 to 3 p.m.

Link is the author of the non-fiction books When Evil Came to Good Hart and Isadore's Secret, winner of the Michigan Notable Book Award. Other books include two memoirs, Bootstrapper: From Broke to Badass on a Northern Michigan Farm and The Drummond Girls: A Story of Fierce Friendship Beyond Time and Chance as well as numerous stories and articles in a variety of publications.

She studied journalism at Michigan State University and earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from Queens University of Charlotte. She has been a newspaper reporter, magazine editor, and a freelance journalist. The Detroit native is married with three grown sons.

When Link comes to Kalamazoo, she will have just finished a month-long position as Journalism Fellow in the Traverse City Public Schools teaching reporting to a class of juniors and seniors at the Career-Tech Center. “I’m also working on something brand new for me, a podcast, which will bring attention to the re-release of my first book, When Evil Came to Good Hart,” Link said. “In April of this year the University of Michigan Press is releasing a special tenth anniversary edition of that book with a new afterword. And, I’m in the throes of researching a new memoir about my family history.”

During her talks in Kalamazoo, Link said she plans to help demystify the writing and publishing process for students. “Here is the biggest lesson I can offer,” she said. “You are not supposed to know what you are doing. That is the essence of being a writer - to learn what you are doing, what you are writing, who you are, who your characters are, what the story is - by writing it!”

Link said her audience can expect some very real stories about getting published, about the writer’s life, and about the resolve required to make writing a life-long practice. She tells new writers to remain true to themselves. “Be as much like yourself as you can,” she advises. “Be more like yourself in your writing than you are in your real life if you can. As Oscar Wilde said, ‘Everyone else is already taken.’ Your voice as a writer is your very best asset. Don’t dilute it, or smother it by trying to write like or sound like someone else. Be honest but gentle in your criticism of yourself and your writing. The whole world is ready and willing to edit you. When you’re just starting out, don’t give the world any help. Don’t edit yourself too harshly. Instead, be your own encourager in chief.”

Link believes everything can be considered valid fodder for a writer. “All your writing experience fits in somewhere,” she said. “Journals, lists, letters, school assignments, it all adds to your skill level. I believe that writing is a craft, like mechanics, graphic design, and carpentry. Practice makes you better at it. Quantity is absolutely necessary for quality to be achieved.” Kalamazoo Valley English instructor Rob Haight coordinates the Visiting Writers series to give students and community members an opportunity to talk with professional writers and listen to their work. Haight has written three books of poetry and said he thinks it’s important for writers to collaborate. “Writing communities tend to be proactive for everyone concerned,” he said, noting that a number of Kalamazoo Valley alumni have gone on to become successful writers.

To prepare for Link’s visit, many English classes at Kalamazoo Valley will read her memoir Bootstrapper: From Broke to Badass on a Northern Michigan Farm as a book in common for the winter semester.

Link’s presentations are free and open to the public. For more information, email Rob Haight at or 269.488.4452 or go to

This article was posted on 03/20/2018.