About

Jack and Julie Ridl established the Visiting Writers Series at Hope College in 1982.

In the first few years, Jack invited the writers he knew and admired, and those he knew would excite the local literary community. But his great warmth, generosity and hard work gradually developed VWS into a diverse, rich series of visiting writers who share their own warmth and experience with others.

Over the years, many of the visiting writers have gone on to win Pulitzer Prizes, National Book Awards, MacArthur ‘Genius’ Awards and other honors. A few have even become United States’ Poet Laureates.

After more than 15 years of patient, dedicated development and personal commitment, Jack Ridl passed the baton to Heather Sellers, who organized the series for 10 years. Carla Vissers then took-over the series for four years. The current director of the JRVWS is Pablo Peschiera, a creative writing professor for the Department of English at Hope College.

In the fall of 2006, at the first annual Tom Andrews Memorial Reading, the series was renamed in honor in of Jack’s dedication, vision and service to writing at Hope College and in the local community. The acclaimed poet, Tom Andrews (Brother’s Country and The Hemophiliac’s Motorcycle), was a student of Jack’s at Hope College. He died in 2001 at only 40 years old, from complications of his hemophilia.

Jack Ridl is currently a professor emeritus of English, having retired from Hope College in 2006. Jack’s legacy lives on at Hope in the Jack Ridl Visiting Writers Series. He is best known for his wonderful books of poetry, his dedication as a teacher and mentor, and his generous human warmth as both a poet and a person. You can learn more about Jack Ridl and his teaching in an interview conducted in 2007, and see what Jack’s been up to at his blog.