posted September 8, 2006

Jack Ridl to Open Visiting Writers Series

The 2006-07 Hope College Visiting Writers Series will open with a reading by the series' creator, Jack Ridl, on Wednesday, Sept. 13, at 7:15 p.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel.

The public is invited. Admission is free.

An accomplished poet, Ridl recently retired from Hope, where he taught for 35 years and founded the Visiting Writers Series in 1982. Since its creation the series has garnered national attention for offering free readings by both award-winning and emerging writers.

He is the author of several collections of poetry, including most recently "Broken Symmetry," published in late March by Wayne State University Press. In 2001 his collection "Against Elegies" was chosen by U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins as the winner of the "Letterpress Chapbook Competition" sponsored by the Center for Book Arts of New York City. His other volumes include "The Same Ghost," "Between," "After School," "Poems from 'The Same Ghost' and 'Between'" and "Outside the Center Ring."

Naomi Shihab Nye has said that "Jack Ridl writes with complete generosity and full-hearted wisdom and care. His deeply intelligent, funny, and gracious poems befriend a reader so completely and warmly, we might all have the revelation that our lives are rich poems too. What a gift!"

The reading is the first "Tom Andrews Memorial Reading." The reading will be an annual part of the series and is made possible by a gift from Ray and Alice Andrews, in memory of their son Tom Andrews. Andrews (1961-2001) graduated from Hope College in 1984 and earned his M.F.A. at the University of Virginia. During his lifetime he published three books of poetry and a memoir, and edited two collections of essays. In 2002, Oberlin College Press published "Random Symmetries: The Collected Poems of Tom Andrews."

It is especially fitting that Ridl give the inaugural reading since he was Andrews' teacher at Hope, and was a mentor and friend throughout his life.

In addition to his volumes of poetry, Ridl is co-author, with Hope colleague Peter Schakel, of two textbooks, "Approaching Poetry: Perspectives and Responses" (1996) and "Approaching Literature in the 21st Century: Fiction, Poetry, and Drama" (2004). They also co-edited two anthologies.

In 1996, he was chosen Michigan's "Professor of the Year" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The college's graduating class presented him with the "Hope Outstanding Professor Educator" Award in 1976, and the student body elected him recipient of the "Favorite Faculty/Staff Member" Award in 2003. He was chosen by the graduating seniors to be the Commencement speaker in both 1975 and 1986. Westminster College, from which he holds both his bachelor's and master's degrees, presented him with an "Alumni Citation Award" in September 2005.

He has read his work and led workshops at colleges, universities, art colonies and other venues around the country.

Ridl's reading on Sept. 13 will be preceded by a performance by the Hope College Jazz Chamber Ensemble beginning at 6:30 p.m. Dimnent Memorial Chapel is located on College Avenue at 12th Street.

Ridl will be featured during a question-and-answer session on Wednesday, Sept. 13, at 3 p.m. in the Herrick Room on the second floor of the DeWitt Center, located on Columbia Avenue at 12th Street. In addition, following the evening reading at the chapel a reception will be held in his honor at the Holland Area Arts Council, located at 150 E. Eighth St. in downtown Holland.

Additional information may be obtained online by visiting www.hope.edu/vws.