The Society of Midland Authors has named "Broken Symmetry," a collection of poetry by Jack Ridl, professor emeritus of English at Hope College, one of the two best volumes of poetry published in 2006.
The society is giving awards to the year's best books in six categories: adult and children's fiction and non-fiction, biography and poetry. The winners will be honored during the society's 92nd annual banquet meeting, being held on Tuesday, May 8, at the Chicago Athletic Association in Chicago, Ill.
The society has presented awards for excellence to authors and poets each year since its inception in 1915. The juried Society of Midland Authors Literary Competition is open to authors and poets who reside in, were born in or have strong ties to the Midwestern states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. A few of the writers who have been recognized through the years have included Saul Bellow, Gwendolyn Brooks, Richard Jones, Ted Kooser, Kathleen Norris, Richard Russo and Studs Terkel.
"Broken Symmetry" has been named a co-winner in its category. The collection was published in March 2006 by Wayne State University Press.
The award from the Society of Midland Authors is the second recognition that the collection has received in recent days. On Monday, April 30, one of the collection's poems, "The Gardeners," was read by Garrison Keillor on the National Public Radio program "The Writer's Almanac."
A member of the Hope faculty since 1971, Ridl retired from fulltime teaching in 2006. The college's Visiting Writers Series, which he founded in 1982, was named in his honor in the fall of 2006.
Ridl is the author of several collections of poetry. He has also published more than 300 poems in journals and has work included in numerous anthologies.
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."
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.