About Jack


Jack Ridl’s new collection, Broken Symmetry, was published in 2006 by Wayne State University Press. He is the author of two other full-length collections, and three chapbooks, including Outside the Center Ring from Puddinghouse Publications, a collection of circus poems published in 2006, and Against Elegies, which was selected for the 2001 Chapbook Award from The Center for Book Arts in New York.

Ridl, who has taught at Hope College for 36 years and who with his wife, Julie, founded the college’s Visiting Writers Series, is co-author with Peter Schakel of Approaching Poetry: Perspectives and Responses, Bedford/St. Martin’s Press, and co-editor, with Peter Schakel, of both 250 Poems and Literature: A Portable Anthology, also from Beford/St. Martin’s. Their Approaching Literature in the 21st Century was published by Bedford/St.Martin’s in 2005.

Ridl has published over 300 poems in more than sixty literary magazines including Poetry East, Harpur Palate, The Georgia Review, FIELD, Poetry, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Gulf Coast, The Denver Quarterly, Chelsea, Free Lunch, The Journal, Runes, Water-Stone and elsewhere.

In 1996, The Carnegie Foundation named Ridl “Michigan Professor of the Year.” He was chosen by the Hope College students for the “HOPE Award” given to “Hope’s Outstanding Professor Educator,” was selected the student body’s “Favorite Professor” in 2003, and has twice been asked by the students to give the college’s commencement address.

In the past 15 years, more than 40 of Ridl’s former students have gone on
to MFA programs and to publishing their work nationally.

Ridl grew up in both the world of basketball where his father was a well-known head coach at Westminster College and the University of Pittsburgh, and in the world of the circus inherited from his mother’s family.

Of his poems, Naomi Shihab Nye has written, “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!”

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins wrote: “Against Elegies arises from a sense of curiosity about life in both its plain and puzzling aspects. These poems feel their way forward and are attentive enough to the reader to make us feel included–happy accomplices to his search.”

Richard Jones wrote, “A sweet intelligence and compassionate eye are the hallmark of these wise poems–just the sort of art we need in these dark and unenlightened times.”

And Conrad Hilberry has written “one group of poems is unmatched, I believe, anywhere in American poetry. I mean the sports poems. These bring to the world of midwestern high school basketball the sort of authority, the sure nuance and detail, that the movie Bull Durham brings to minor league baseball. They are so compelling, so varied, so familiar to anyone who knows high school and sports that they may well introduce a new genre.”

Ridl’s speaking calendar and publications list and ordering information are kept up-to-date at http://www.ridl.com.

Ridl lives along a creek that winds into Lake Michigan with his wife, Julie, two dogs and two cats.

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