The Library of Michigan has named the anthology “Poetry in Michigan/Michigan in Poetry,” co-edited by Jack Ridl, professor emeritus of English at Hope College, a 2014 Michigan Notable Book.
The annual Michigan Notable Books Program list, announced this year on Friday, Jan. 3, features 20 books published in the previous calendar year that are about Michigan or the Great Lakes region, or are written by a Michigan author. Selections include nonfiction and fiction books that appeal to a variety of audiences and cover a range of topics and issues close to the hearts of Michigan residents.
“Poetry in Michigan/Michigan in Poetry” is a 203-page hardcover book featuring work by 90 Michigan poets and 48 works of art by Michigan artists. 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.
“Poems from Michigan’s most recognized poets are gathered in this beautiful single volume,” the library’s announcement noted. “The anthology gathers an intriguing range of poets and artists, their visions and voices, exploring the variances in Michigan landscape; shoreline; lives lived in the city, town and countryside; our uncommon diversity of cultures, points of view, concerns, celebrations, losses, and histories.”
Several Hope faculty and alumni are among those with selections in the anthology.
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.