Unblinking

We know where WE will be tomorrow night.

Unblinking

Our pal Lisa Lenzo is throwing a launch party at one of our favorite local coffee shops, Uncommon Coffee Roasters. And you’re invited! Lisa’s work is as unblinking as the title of the new book, Unblinking, from Wayne State University Press.

Will we see you there?

Wednesday, May 8th, 2019
Saugatuck Book Launch Party
Short reading at 6
free coffee, tea, and treats
Uncommon Coffee Roasters
127 Hoffman Street
Saugatuck
5-8 p.m.

And! Soon! Thursday, May 16 at 7pm, I’ll get to read with Lisa at the Michigan News Agency bookstore, 308 W. Michigan Avenue in Kalamazoo.

The Hidden Permutations of Love

Oh it’s likely having reached this age, but I keep recalling days when the news attended primarily to events and what programs and bills the government was working on.

Now I keep thinking that it’s all gone the way of those magazines you see as you pass through the grocery line.

45 has let loose a cult of personality about as demented as it can get: lies, obfuscation, evasion are just fine so long as they are used for a self–serving economic policy and a narcissistic end.

Oh, it’s always been there, here and there, bits and pieces. I’m not naive. But there used to be integrity to counter all of this. Tricky Dick. Not everyone Liked Ike. Harry, so sure of himself. But this is not the same. What president of these United States rallies a frightening mob by shouting “BULLSHIT!”

Mom! Get out the soap and wash out that vile mouth for all of us.

You don’t have to follow any tradition to take in how Pastor Sal in our Douglas UCC church closes each service with Bishop John Shelby Spong’s gentle litany: “Live fully, love wastefully, and have the courage to be all you were meant to be.”

Yes. Let’s.

The Hidden Permutations of Love

He thought he would build a fence.
Not to keep anything out or in. He’d
make it of stones and branches
piled in the woods out back. He’d
weave the branches. He’d balance
the stones, make the fence
a mixed reminder, two textures,
one holding him to the ground,
one taking him into what
is above. He would sit by
the window and watch her walk
along it, touching the wood and
stone. She would stop to notice
how he had finely fit every rock
and branch, the wind able to move
through each open place. A sparrow
would come, perch long enough
to open a seed. Squirrels would
run along the ridge. He thought
he would plant English ivy,
burning bush, and wedding veil
hoping to see them climb, spread,
entangle, bring out the unnamable
hues of green, see them catch
the light and glisten in the rain.

–Jack Ridl

Published in an alternative form in Practicing to Walk Like a Heron (Wayne State University Press)

You are invited to help us celebrate Jack’s new book, St. Peter and the Goldfinch at:

THE GALA FOR THE GOLDFINCH: A PROTEST FOR GOODNESS
Featuring…

Songs by The Persisterhood Choir
&
A Conversation: Jack’s Poems with Jazz by The John Shea Trio

Book Signing and Party Time to follow!

DATE: April 5
PLACE: Douglas United Church of Christ, on the corner of Spring and Wall Streets
TIME: 6:30pm
Please RSVP here to help us plan this event: http://bit.ly/GoldfinchGala

Bring a bottle and a plate if you can, but not if you can’t.

Join the Waiting List for Poetry Trauma, March 20
This workshop is currently full, but usually people drop as the date approaches. Or, if we have enough people join the waiting list, we will schedule it again, inviting the waitlist folks first. Join the waiting list at this link: http://bit.ly/PoetryTrauma

Workshop on March 23 at Grace Episcopal Church, Holland, MI
Jack will lead this workshop, sharing approaches to Writing Personal History at Grace Episcopal Church in Holland, Michigan. Time 10-1:30. Contact the church to sign up.

At Fifty

When Duke and North Carolina, a men’s basketball rivalry that seems to have been around forever, played a little over a week ago, tickets for the game were going for an average of almost $3,000, the highest ticket price, some $10,000.

Some came for the rivalry, but many came to see Zion Williamson, the astonishing Duke freshman. In the first 33 seconds of that game, Williamson’s shoe broke apart, damaging his knee. He never reappeared.

Shoes. In the early 70’s when my father was the coach at PITT (The University of Pittsburgh), he was approached by a guy with a scheme he wanted my father to join. The scheme? To have a shoe company pay my father “big money” if he would have his players wear the shoe he represented. Dad said, in his rather understated way, “Something seemed fishy.”

My father said no. But he was concerned the pitchman would hound him or make him “an offer he couldn’t refuse,” and asked the university to provide security.

The guy went elsewhere, and the world of college basketball became a world where coaches made millions, and the players became marketing pawns, and fans paid up to $10,000 to see a nineteen-year-old phenom play for 33 seconds.

Within a year my father, who loved coaching, retired. He was only in his 50s. He was making $19,000 a year.

My mother, with a rueful laugh, often said, “My husband retired BS.” (Before Shoes). “We could have retired to some island off Florida if he hadn’t believed that offer was ‘fishy’.”

45 would say, “What a loser.”

At Fifty

Coach hurls the ball against the garage door,
grabs it on the rebound. He’s missed ten
in a row. He steps to the line, bounces
the ball twice, hard, and the fans from
thirty years ago send their hopes across
their weary lungs. He listens to the hush
of the home crowd while the taunts
of those from out of town float through
the rafters down across the backboard,
spinning around and around the rim.
He slams the ball one more time, feels
the leather, eyes the hoop, shoots.
The ball caroms off the back of the rim, rolls
across the driveway into the herb garden
his wife planted the year they found this house.
Once, he could drop nine out of ten
from the line, hit half his jump shots
from twenty feet. Coach sits down at
the top of the key, stares, sees himself
bringing it up against the press, faking,
shaking his shoulders, stutter stepping, shifting
the ball left hand to right, then back, then up,
his legs exploding, his wrist firing, the ball
looping up, down, through the hoop, making
the net shimmer, the crowd roar. He gets up,
goes over to the garden, reaches for the ball,
stops and pulls some weeds growing through
the oregano, basil, sage, and thyme.

–Jack Ridl

from Losing Season (CavanKerry Press)

I’ll be leading a workshop about approaches to writing personal history on March 23 at Grace Episcopal Church in Holland, Michigan, 10am-1:30pm. Contact the church for details, registration, etc.

Poetry Trauma: The Way to Recovery workshop is filled. But there is a wait list. Sign up here to put yourself on it. If we get enough people on the waitlist, we will add another section of this workshop..

Protest, Poems, and Jazz: A Gala for the Goldfinch.  Jack’s new book, Saint Peter and the Goldfinch, is winging its way off the presses. RSVP here if you can join us on April 5 to celebrate!. We’re so excited to welcome the Persisterhood Choir, who will kick off the evening, and the John Shea Trio, who will take the stage with Jack and create a conversation between jazz and poems. Then it’s party time, with more jazz, books, nibbles and sips.

Kristin Brace’s new chapbookEach Darkness Inside, can be ordered through April 12 from Finishing Line Press. It will be shipped in June.

Mark Hiskes’ new book is on the way! Watch Dos Madres Press for news!

Saugatuck’s D.R. James has a new chapbook coming out! Click here for a pre-order discount!

Feeding the Pup in the Early Morning

Speaking of treason… (And 45 has been tossing that extraordinary word around like it’s nothing more than a Wiffle Ball. ) …around here it’s called “insubordination.”

What can we do when there’s nothing we can do?

Many of us were brought up with good and evil being a good versus evil. If we didn’t fight evil, we were complicit in it. We were told making art, being cheerful, working in the garden, playing games at a time like this is morally repugnant.

Yes, let’s work to prevent further damage. But what do we do when we can’t stop the abuser of power or when what’s been done is done, leaving lives forever harmed, never to be healed?

Being cynical about the value of joy and the arts is easy. Why? Because these things CAN put good into the world.

Every second we are creating the world that others live in. We can continue to perform random acts of kindness, paint paintings, comfort one another, take care of a garden, stay by our families and friends, say hi to anyone we pass on the street, find a wandering way with one another’s differences, write down our days for our grandchildren, sing in the shower, and, and, and.

And get a dog.

The other day one of the beloved couples at the local college who were victims of hate and lost their livelihood in music got a puppy, a golden retriever. That pup will redeem their days. He will make them laugh, bring life to life, drive them mad, bring out their deep care, and join them in joy.

We are so glad for them, and for their dog.

Feeding the Pup in the Early Morning

I love our pup, she whose DNA chooses to chew
the coffee table’s legs, any book, shoe or the pair
of reading glasses I left where anyone my age

would set them in case of fire, storm, the need
to finally pay a bill, an inappropriate drop-in
by that person you would never add to

your daughter’s wedding invitation list. However
it’s 7am and I must feed her. There’s a schedule,
a set of behaviors prescribed in validated tomes

by those who decided never to major in philosophy,
dance history, or literature. They opened their minds
to trial and error, determining a schedule that for sure

is the only way to raise a confident and willing companion
who will on some unfathomable day give up dragging
anything dangling — bed spread, sweater, scarf, shower curtain—

who will come when called, sit, lie down, heel, fetch,
love me even when there is no treat. But it’s 7am and
I staggered to bed after meeting a 3am deadline.

However the schedule proclaims “Feed the pup at the same time
each and every day.” Oh come on! If she sleeps just one measly
hour longer, do I risk her turning into the neighborhood’s teeth-baring

dingo who digs up Mrs. Phelps’s petunias, snarls
at the priest on his daily walk, steals the dump truck
from the sandbox down the street, snaps at the kid

selling magazines for a trip to Haiti? Will I be
the one whose best friend must be muzzled
because she slept just one more hour of just

another day? What do I know? What will I ever know?

–Jack Ridl

From Saint Peter and the Goldfinch (Wayne State University Press)

Daughter Meridith is featured in an interview along with her artwork in the latest Holland Weekly. Check it out at hollandweekly.com

Katie Kalisz will be reading from her new collection, Quiet Woman, at Grand Rapids Community College on February 21 and at Kentwood KDL on March 27.

I’ll be leading a workshop about approaches to writing personal history on March 23 at Grace Episcopal Church in Holland, Michigan, 10am-1:30pm. Contact the church for details, registration, etc.

Poetry Trauma: The Way to Recovery workshop is filled. But there is a wait list. Sign up here to put yourself on it.

We are throwing a book Reception for Saint Peter and the Goldfinch. RSVP here to help us make plans. We’re so excited to welcome the Persisterhood Choir, who will open for us and the John Shea Trio, who will take the stage with Jack and create a conversation between jazz and poems.

Kristin Brace’s new chapbookEach Darkness Inside, can be ordered through April 12 from Finishing Line Press. It will be shipped in June.

Mark Hiskes’ new book is on the way! Watch Dos Madres Press for news!

Saugatuck’s D.R. James has a new chapbook coming out! Click here for a pre-order discount!

Midwinter Song

There are so many things to write about this week to bring you down. Spent an evening with music teachers whose lives, not mere jobs, were taken from them.

And of course…

Nah!

Krista Tippett — many of you know her project “On Being” — wrote about how there are now two separated worlds. One imposes itself on us. The other is the one we will not give up, our own.

Let’s get back to how remarkable it is that day after day, hour after hour, each of us keeps attending to what matters.

Here amid the ice and snow, the local coffee shop is open. My buddy David and I had our coffee and pastries this morning with the owner, Renee. Every Friday from 6-9pm, her 80-year-old dad and his buddy Ron play their guitars and sing here, two guys who have a deeeeep and long friendship that comes out as they glance at one another, nod, and smile. They’d play if no one was there.

And that is what we are all doing: playing our “guitars” and being with one another. What otherwise might simply be what we do, has become an unintended act of resistance.

No matter what — whether it’s a job, an interest, another check off the to-do list, a passion — it has become in its everyday way what keeps us going, what we hold in our hearts.

Feed the birds. Shovel the walk. Listen to your music. Head to the coffee shop, and say hi to Renee.

Midwinter Song

How good it is to be
in here, on the couch,
the dogs asleep on the pillows
as if we are safe in the great
Kingdom of Snow. Death
with its lisping end rhymes
stands under an umbrella.
The snow against the windows
is a language, its assonance
an uninvited solace. Cold
will come again. We can’t
move south. We have sweaters.
We depend on a shovel
and the neighbor’s plow.
We depend on music, on
knowing we no longer
need to say we love one
another. Love is Emanuel.
This snow. The wind.
This music on the radio
is music on the radio.
The dogs sleep with
their names. The cold,
this music, this snow.

==Jack Ridl

First published in The Louisville Review

Subsequently published in Practicing to Walk Like a Heron (Wayne State University Press)

About that Party
Okay, I really, really, really believe that you will have a great good time on April 5 at the Douglas United Church of Christ at 6:30pm, where we’re holding the reception for my new collection Saint Peter and the Goldfinch.

WHY???

BECAUSE at 6:30 the shake-up-the-house choir PERSISTERHOOD will open for us, singing, and lifting your spirits above the spire.

THEN at 7pm, The John Shea Trio will take the stage with me, and we will blend the poems with exquisite jazz. John’s created a program to savor.

And then the jazz trio moves with us to the party, and we… party!

I don’t care if you have other plans, live in Germany, or 376 miles away — be there! I have no problem unselfconsciously promoting this. This party is for YOU!

More Good News

My March 30 workshop “Poetry Trauma: The Way to Recovery” is now full. Let me know if you would like to be on the waiting list. If we get enough folks on that waiting list, we will offer it another day.

Kristin Brace’s new chapbook, Each Darkness Inside, can be ordered through April 12 from Finishing Line Press. It will be shipped in June.

Saugatuck’s D.R. James has a new chapbook coming out! Click here for a pre-order discount!

Daughter Meridith is featured in an interview along with her artwork in the latest Holland Weekly. Check it out at hollandweekly.com

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Visit Reader’s World in Holland, The Bookman in Grand Haven, and The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague to find Jack’s books in West Michigan.

Jack’s page on Amazon.

Click here to subscribe to receive Jack’s poems and news in your inbox.

Click here for Jack’s entire collection, In Time — poems for the current administration.

Click here to watch Jack’s TedX talk.

You Mustn’t Die Unsaved

Like many of you, I was a victim of Christian dogma abuse. Lots of fear, control, punishment, oppression, guilt for simply being. And then I had to take responsibility for all the fear and guilt I would never have felt without this oppression. A kind of vicious self-feeding trauma cycle.

(If you don’t consider yourself a Christian, welcome. I hope you will read on. If you do call yourself a Christian and are already offended, please read on anyway.)

In 1971 I joined the faculty of a Christian college. Back in my day, much of the faculty affirmed how Jesus had dramatically altered the consciousness of many, had challenged the assumed laws and status quo of the day, had placed people over policy, had shifted choice of behavior from obeying orders to following values like mercy, love, hope, compassion, forgiveness. We understood who should be throwing the first stone. And more.

Jesus didn’t punish people. He admonished people sometimes, sure. Even with the money changers, he angrily moved them to where they belonged — admonishment, not punishment.

While teaching at the college, I remember being admonished a few times. Some of those times, I admit, were deserved. But I was never punished.

Over the course of many months, more than a year, the administration and board of my old school severely punished several beloved music faculty members. The charges are refutable or minor. Ongoing investigation will perhaps bring this to light.

But some of these good souls are no longer teaching there. The music students have voiced their protest, their affirmation of their teachers. The Student Congress aligned itself with the administration. (The Student Congress?!?) After damaging these lives cruelly and forever, the powers and principalities continue to maintain the school is Christian.

I say no.

These punished professors, some of the lowest paid professors in our collegiate association, lost tens of thousands in legal fees. How did the college administrators pay for their legal counsel? Was it paid for by the parents and students who paid tuition, from donors? With or without their approval?

45 is seeping into our little local lives. He has been doing that for longer than he’s been president. His patent phrase, “You’re fired!” from his reality show changed the norm, the tone and tenor of collegiality from college classrooms to corporate offices to small businesses. The way we treat people now, blaming and culling first, working out our differences later, or never, has turned our culture into one where differences cannot contribute to a whole, much less be tolerated.

And at my little college, many (most?) of the faculty are left in trauma, afraid to speak, afraid to be who they have been trained and grown to be.

Is this paranoia? Nope.

We must hold to what we value: our care for one another wherever we see his attitude acted out, whether those who do so vehemently deny it. Those college administrators may say they disagree with 45, that this is different, that they acted on their own, according to policy.

Policy above people. What would Jesus really do? I mean, really?

You Mustn’t Die Unsaved

Reverend Kirk came to town,
lured us
from the playgrounds
to the church,
turned us into Christian jocks.
We carried Bibles, picked off sinners,
won them back to God.
We began to pray,
four, five times
every day, and memorize
key passages
to keep our noses clean
and pick apart the enemy’s defense.
God we were good.
Every other day, we met
with him for breakfast,
Bible study, prayer.
Before he came to town,
we’d all been up and out
each day to play
some ball and make enough
to take our girls out
after pick-up games we played
behind the high school gym.
But Reverend Kirk sure
set us straight. He taught us
ball, a summer job, and
four good friends were not enough.

For Rev. Gerry Van Heest who knew “Where two or three gather together . . .”

–Jack Ridl

First published in Samisdat
Subsequently published in Between (Dawn Valley Press)

Coming Up…

Saugatuck’s D.R. James has a new chapbook coming out! Click here for a pre-order discount!

Jack Interview, February 22 on WMUK’s Art Beat. 12:30pm.

Workshop on March 30. “Poetry Trauma: The Way to Recovery.” This will offer a fresh way to be nourished by a variety of poems. It’s FREE. But you MUST reserve a seat.

When: March 30, 10am-1pm.
Where: The Douglass UCC church Friendship Hall.
Click here to reserve your seat online, or sign up at the church hall one of these Sunday mornings.

Party Time: Book Reception, April 5 for the release of Saint Peter and the Goldfinch.

When: April 5, 6:30-9:30pm
Where: The Douglass UCC church.
There will be a reading at 7pm. Then we party. Books on site for sale and signing.
Click here to Read all about it and RSVP PLEASE

Writing Your Personal History Workshop, April 6Grace Episcopal Church. 10am – 1:30pm

Reading with Lisa Lenzo (whose new book, Unblinking, will be released in May!) on May 16 at Michigan News Agency Bookstore in Kalamazoo.. 7pm

Wonderful news for those of you who know or want to meet the beloved Kathleen Markland.
She has been named the Honoree for the celebration of and fundraiser for The Ox-Bow School of Art and Artists’ Residency  in Saugatuck, Michigan. Ox-Bow is more than 100 years old and is a part of The Art Institute of Chicago. Stay tuned for that fundraiser date!

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Visit Reader’s World in Holland, The Bookman in Grand Haven, and The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague to find Jack’s books in West Michigan.

Jack’s page on Amazon.

Click here to subscribe to receive Jack’s poems and news in your inbox.

Click here for Jack’s entire collection, In Time — poems for the current administration.

Click here to watch Jack’s TedX talk.

Ice Storm (…and about that party…)

Here’s a little coda to last week’s post: How many of you grew up being subjected to the well-meaning, “Just do your best”? I don’t know about you, but I was the kid who had no idea what my best was. Anxiety to the point of panic slithered within whether I was making my bed (My mother invariably smoothed out a wrinkle or four) or studying for an exam in existential philosophy.

Always I obsessed, “Did I do my best? How will I know?” They bewildered me, those people for whom the phrase brought relief, even confidence. Even after a failure — missing a layup or receiving a C — those folks heard, “That’s okay. I know you did your best.”

Man if this is 45’s best, I dread to think what his less than best looks like.

This week has lugged in quite a storm. It’s so cold that, even if properly winter-clothed, we will be frostbitten in ten minutes. The windchill here as I write has plummeted to a minus-27 F.

At least for a while we love it. Pile up the books, get out the board games, watch an old movie, curl up with the dogs.

A storm like this is a paradoxical gift, distracting us in the best of ways by forcing us to pay attention to what matters deeply in our own lives, all we would attend to if the thief-in-chief of our personal lives had never shown up in The White House.

Which brings me to today’s poem. Am I ever lucky! The blurbs/reviews for my new collection were written by Li-Young Lee, Dan Gerber, Terrance Hayes, and Billy Collins. In tune with the weather here, here’s an excerpt from Dan Gerber on the new book:

“Open the book to page 27 and read ‘Ice Storm.’ Feel how it settles in your chest, how your breath resounds with a long, deep, ‘Yes,’ how subtly you are changed by what you didn’t know you knew.”

Ice Storm

Here on the couch with my old dog I find
I’m feeling gratitude, an odd gratitude,
an old gratitude, one I thought had gone

for good down a long back road
that led away from the years when
I felt glad, felt what I believed

was an abiding gratitude: to be,
to be warm, and grateful to be
warm, to have some pillows

and a dozen books and all afternoon.
To be alone without even a sideswipe
of loneliness. To be on page 47,

or 114, or page one and there
was nothing missing. The ice
storm made things warm,

time irrelevant, made the sleeping
dog an Amen to a prayer never
needing to be said.

–Jack Ridl

First published in Third Wednesday
To be included in Saint Peter and the Goldfinch (Wayne State University Press)

So much news to share!

1. Jack Interview, February 22 on WMUK’s Art Beat. 12:30pm.

2. Party Time: Book Reception, April 5 for the release of Saint Peter and the Goldfinch.

When: April 5, 6:30-9:30pm
Where: The Douglass UCC church.
There will be a reading at 7pm. Then we party. Books on site for sale and signing.
Click here to Read all about it and RSVP PLEASE

3. Writing Your Personal History Workshop, April 6. Grace Episcopal Church. 9am-2pm

4.Workshop on March 30. “Poetry Trauma: The Way to Recovery.” This will offer a fresh way to be nourished by a variety of poems. It’s FREE. But you MUST reserve a seat.

When: March 30, 10am-1pm.
Where: The Douglass UCC church Friendship Hall.
Click here to reserve your seat online, or sign up at the church hall one of these Sunday mornings.

5. Reading with Lisa Lenzo (whose new book, Unblinking, will be released in May!) on May 16 at Michigan News Agency Bookstore in Kalamazoo.. 7pm

6. Wonderful news for those of you who know or want to meet the beloved Kathleen Markland.
She has been named the Honoree for the celebration of and fundraiser for The Ox-Bow School of Art and Artists’ Residency  in Saugatuck, Michigan. Ox-Bow is more than 100 years old and is a part of The Art Institute of Chicago. Stay tuned for that fundraiser date!

7. Saugatuck’s D.R. James has a new chapbook coming out! Click here for a pre-order discount!

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Visit Reader’s World in Holland, The Bookman in Grand Haven, and The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague to find Jack’s books in West Michigan.

Jack’s page on Amazon.

Click here to subscribe to receive Jack’s poems and news in your inbox.

Click here for Jack’s entire collection, In Time — poems for the current administration.

Click here to watch Jack’s TedX talk.

Christmas at My Grandfather’s

This past Monday here in the U.S. we celebrated Labor Day. My paternal grandfather was a laborer. He was also a Bohemian immigrant. Those from much of eastern Europe were denigrated in ways 45 speaks of certain immigrants today. My grandfather was a “hunky.”

When he was sixteen, he lied about his age so that he could work in a Pittsburgh factory, Westinghouse Air Brake. Each work day until he retired he stood at the assembly line.

I once asked him, “Grampa, how were you able to do that day after day, all those years?” He thought for a bit and said, “Well, I’m not sure what you mean. It was only eight hours a day.”

Christmas at My Grandfather’s

The dark stab of pre-dawn
stings my grandfather’s wrists.
He grabs his lunch pail.
The mill still burns,
one shift moving
into the next, men
held to the air
by hunger,
home, the unrelenting
threat of sudden illness,
and the nag of hope
that one kid
might get out.
At Christmas, I remember
only the gift
of the day off,
watching
my grandfather get up
at the same time,
dress, and turn
the tree lights on.
He’d sit in the dark,
stare at the tree,
drift into the branches,
let his mind take its place
among the ornaments
as behind him, over his shoulder,
the sun came up
through the window smudged
with soot and spray-on snow.

–Jack Ridl

First published in Artful Dodge.

Subsequently published in between (Dawn Valley Press, out of print).

Personal History Workshop
On Saturday September 29 from 1-3:30 at the Douglas United Church of Christ, 56 Wall Street, Jack will be offering a workshop on a variety of ways of exploring your personal history. If you want to sign up, and please be sure about it, send an email to Jack at jack@ridl.com, or use the contact link up there at the top of ridl.com.

Music and Poetry Happenings
On Friday at Uncommon Grounds in Saugatuck, David James will be reading at 7pm. Rob Kenagy and Ganges and Press Delete will be playing starting around 6pm and again after David’s reading. On Saturday, Kenagy, Ganges and Real Umami will be appearing at Virtue Cider beginning at 7pm, along with poet Peter Berghoef. These promise to be great good times for one and all!

 

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Visit Reader’s World in Holland, The Bookman in Grand Haven, and The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague to find Jack’s books in West Michigan.

Click here to subscribe to receive Jack’s poems and news in your inbox.

Click here for Jack’s entire collection, In Time — poems for the current administration.

Click here to watch Jack’s TedX talk.

Community Read: Death and Life of the Great Lakes

deathandlife

 

Hey, hi folks,

Jack and Julie here. We belong to a groovy progressive church in Douglas, MI, the DUCC, which works for equal rights, social and environmental justice, all the good stuff. We sit on the Creation Justice Team, and we’re both going to be facilitating at this event, which will take place September through November, with three meeting times. We would love it if you would join us, in person or online, if you like, by comment/discussion below.

Former State Senator Patty Birkholz, in the year or so before she passed away, served as a great mentor to the DUCC Creation Justice Team. During that time she pressed into our hands — as she did everyone she met — Dan Egan’s amazing and award-winning book, The Death and Life of the Great Lakes.

Patty wanted everyone in the states and provinces that border the Great Lakes to read it, to understand better the challenges our waters have faced and will face, so we can be better equipped to fight for the survival of the largest freshwater system in North America.

So we have decided to read this book together as a kind of community-wide bookclub Event.

Will you join us?

The book is divided into three parts, the Front Door, the Back Door, and the Future. We will gather at the DUCC Friendship Hall, 56 Wall Street, Douglas, MI on these dates to discuss these sections of the book. We would love it if you could commit to all three dates, but if not, join in for as many as you can.

The Front Door, September 18, 6:30p.m.

The Back Door, October 23, 6:30p.m.

The Future, November 13, 6:30p.m.

The Saugatuck-Douglas District Library has hard copies and electronic copies of the book available on loan.

Follow this link to Evite.com to join in on the read!

http://evite.me/REn7yWny9p

Living in the 21st Century

We’re all wanting things to be normal, not utopian, not even idealistic. Just rather normal, civil. 

Years ago I heard someone say, “It’s all the Beatles’ fault.” Really? “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.” “Here Comes the Sun.” “Eleanor Rigby.” “We All Live in a Yellow Submarine.” Oh, I know: the hair, the drugs, the outrageous dress, the riots, the protests. Much like the Gay Nineties and the Roaring 20s.

But–this today?

Normal for me would be going outside to fill the bird feeder without words such as “Rat,” “Dog” “Loser” battering my brain. “I disagree,” would be fine. Or “Not my taste.” Even “Not for me.”

Sigh.

Living in the 21st Century

Long before there was this day
another day came. Maybe it rained
or there was a little sunlight. People

got up and did what they always do.
Birds sang and the cats wanted out,
or in. You and I weren’t here,

but the world didn’t know. Trees
grew and nobody noticed. Someone
was cruel. Someone else

tried not to be. Maybe the weather
shifted unexpectedly and plans
had to be changed. This morning

we watched our day begin. We
wondered if it would be good,
wondered if it would rain.

–Jack Ridl

from Broken Symmetry, Wayne State University Press

There’s a wonderful Writers’ Retreat coming up at Lost Lake near Alpena., Michigan. Instead of the usual workshops, the retreat provides you a long-needed chance to get away, be among warm-hearted fellow writers and a staff of fiction writers, poets, and song writers with whom you can meet one on one, hear read, sing, and listen to interesting presentations. Here you will have time to write on your own in the beautiful autumn setting at Lost Lake.

October 4-7

For more details and to sign up go to inspirationalcona.org

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Visit Reader’s World to find Jack’s books in West Michigan.

Click here to subscribe to receive Jack’s poems and news in your inbox.

Click here for Jack’s entire collection, In Time — poems for the current administration.

Click here to watch Jack’s TedX talk.

And, of course, click here to visit ridl.com, check out what Jack’s been up to, maybe say hi!