The Jack Ridl Visiting Writers Series of Hope College has announced its diverse line-up for the 2008-09 season.

The Visiting Writers Series will begin on Thursday, Sept. 25, with prize-winning author Anthony Doerr.  His work includes "The Shell Collector," "About Grace" and the recent memoir "Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World," which "The Boston Globe" has called "A beautiful paean to Rome, a passionately rendered love letter that will appeal to anyone interested in the Eternal City."

Monday, Oct. 27, will feature Ander Monson, who won the 2008 Great Lakes College Association New Writers Award for his collection of essays "Neck Deep and Other Predicaments," which also won the 2006 Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize. In a starred review of "Neck Deep," "Publishers Weekly" noted that Monson "offers a parade of quirky, at times avant-garde methods for exploring his obsessions with everything from frisbee golf . . . to car washes . . . to the lost art of sending telegrams."

Also reading on Monday, Oct. 27, will be Andy Mozina, who won the 2008 Great Lakes College Association New Writers Award for his collection of stories, "The Women Were Leaving the Men," published by Wayne State University Press as part of their "Made in Michigan" series.

Poet Toni Blackman, who will read on Tuesday, Nov. 18, was the first Hip Hop artist selected to work as a Cultural Ambassador traveling with the U.S. State Department. She has performed in more than 16 countries and shared the stage with a host of artists including Mos Def, Sheryl Crow, Sara McLachlan and Wu Tang Clan. Hip Hop historian and poet Kevin Powell has said that "just as Langston Hughes and the Beat writers embraced jazz as a way to frame their pursuit of higher truths, Blackman grabs the mic literally as if life depended on it, carving for herself a space where words are sacred, and where her literary objectives soar." Blackman is the author of "Inner-Course: A Plea for Real Love," published in 2003.

Reading on Monday, Feb. 16, will be Lynne Thompson, who won the 2008 GLCA New Writers Award for "Beg No Pardon," a collection of poetry that reflects on the journey of life from childhood through adulthood. One of the judges who chose Thompson's collection said that her poems "seduce and confront and refuse to be anonymous--or they revel in the transgressions anonymity affords."

Renowned author Francine Prose, who will read on Wednesday, March 11, has written more than 20 books, including National Book Award finalist "Blue Angel" and the New York Times Bestseller "Reading Like a Writer." Her numerous stories, reviews and essays have appeared in "The Atlantic Monthly," "Harper's," "Best American Short Stories," "The New Yorker," "The New York Times," "The New York Observer," "Art News," "The Yale Review," "The New Republic" and many other publications.

Closing the season on Wednesday, April 15, will be spoken-word artist Minton Sparks, who blends music, story-telling and poetry. Her CDs include "This Dress," "Middlin Sisters," and her most recent release, "Sin Sick," which legendary folk singer John Prine has called "just what the doctor ordered." She will be accompanied at Hope College by virtuoso guitarist John Jackson.

All readings start at 7 p.m. at the Knickerbocker Theatre.  Each reading will be preceded by a performance by Hope College Jazz Ensemble at the Knickerbocker beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Additional information may be obtained online by visiting

The Knickerbocker Theatre is located in downtown Holland at 86 E. Eighth St.