posted November 12, 2013

Poetry Anthology Co-Edited by Jack Ridl Includes Several Hope Poets

Multiple members of the extended Hope College community have work included in “Poetry in Michigan/Michigan in Poetry,” an anthology co-edited by Jack Ridl, professor emeritus of English.

The 203-page, hardcover book features work by 90 Michigan poets and 48 works of art by Michigan artists, and includes poems or artwork by several faculty and alumni of the college.  Ridl, who taught at Hope from 1971 until retiring in 2006, co-edited the book with award-winning poet Dr. William Olsen, a professor of English at Western Michigan University.

“Poetry in Michigan/Michigan in Poetry” was developed as a celebratory anthology that “assembles a geography of verse out of Michigan’s ongoing literary riches.”  The mix of poems provides a range of perspectives on Michigan’s varied landscapes, from inland shorelines to cities, towns and countrysides, the lives lived there, and the uncommon diversity of cultures residing in the Great Lakes State.

“I could celebrate every single poem in here—a rare statement to make about any anthology,” said award-winning poet Jim Daniels, who teaches creative writing at Carnegie Mellon University, where he is the Thomas Stockham Baker Professor of English.  “Leave it to the poets to find the heart of a place.  This book will make you fall in love with Michigan all over again, or for the first time.”

Current members of the Hope faculty with poetry in the book are David R. James, adjunct associate professor of English, who is a 1976 Hope graduate; Dr. Rhoda Janzen Burton, associate professor of English; Susanna Childress, visiting assistant professor of English; Greg Rappleye, part-time lecturer in English; and Dr. Heather Sellers, professor of English.  The book also includes poetry by Jackie Bartley, who retired from the college’s English faculty last year, and by Ridl.

In addition to James, alumni with poetry in the anthology (and their class year) include Tom Andrews (1984), Chris Dombrowski (1998), Kathleen McGookey (1989) and Julie (Moulds) Rybicki (1985).  The work by Andrews and Rybicki was included posthumously; they died in 2001 and 2008 respectively.

The artists with work in the book include Michelle Calkins (1990).

Many of the poets with work in the anthology have read at Hope through the college’s Jack Ridl Visiting Writers Series, which Ridl co-founded with his wife, Julie, in 1982.

Ridl is the author of several collections of poetry, most recently “Practicing to Walk Like a Heron” (2013), and has also published more than 300 poems in journals and has work included in numerous anthologies.  In addition, he has read his work and led workshops at colleges, universities, art colonies and other venues around the country.

He has received multiple awards for his collections.  His 2009 collection “Losing Season” (CavanKerry Press) was named the 2009 “Sports Education Book of the Year” by the Institute for International Sport at the University of Rhode Island.  The Society of Midland Authors named “Broken Symmetry” one of the two best volumes of poetry published in 2006.  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.  Ridl’s other volumes include “The Same Ghost,” “Between,” “After School,” “Poems from ‘The Same Ghost’ and ‘Between,’” and “Outside the Center Ring.”

In addition to his volumes of poetry, Ridl is co-author, with Hope colleague Peter Schakel, of two textbooks, “Approaching Poetry: Perspectives and Responses” and “Approaching Literature.” They also co-edited two anthologies.

Ridl also received recognition both at Hope and beyond as a master teacher.  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.

More than 75 of Ridl’s students are now published authors themselves.

Copies of “Poetry in Michigan/Michigan in Poetry” are available for $40 at the college’s Hope-Geneva Bookstore, which is located on the ground level of the DeWitt Center, 141 E. 12th St., and can be called at 800-946-4673 or (616) 395-7833.