The Last Red Dock Poetry Reading

Here’s the scoop on this wonderful reading series as it comes to an ignoble close… Hope to see you there!

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The Last Red Dock Poetry Reading — Isabel’s Market & Eatery, September 22, 6pm

There have been a lot of “lasts” in this last season for the much-celebrated “last hippie bar,” the Red Dock in Douglas Michigan. 

The last of the Red Dock’s events wrap up with The Last Red Dock Poetry Reading, sponsored by Tony and Dona Amato and Isabel’s Market and Eatery, where the reading will be held, at 310 Blue Star Highway, in Douglas, on September 22, at 6pm.

The featured poets will be Jack Ridl, Douglas’ Poet Laureate, the instigator — along with the Amatos, of the Red Dock Poetry Series. Jack and Tony welcome Kathleen McGookey to the stage this year.

Kathleen McGookey is author of four books of poetry, including Instructions for My Imposter and Stay. She also has three chapbooks, a book of translations of French poet Georges Godeau’s prose poems called We’ll See. McGoogkey’s poems and translations have appeared in many journals and anthologies, including Best Microfiction 2019, Best Small Fictions 2019, Copper Nickel, Crazyhorse, Denver Quarterly, Epoch, Field, New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Quarterly West, Quiddity, and The Southern Review. She has received grants from the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation, the Arts Fund of Kalamazoo County, the Sustainable Arts Foundation, and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. McGookey has taught creative writing at Hope College, Interlochen Arts Academy, and Western Michigan University. 

Jack Ridl is the author of several national award-winning collections, as well as poetry textbooks and anthologies. His most recent collection, St. Peter and the Goldfinch, Wayne State University Press, was released in 2019. His poems have appeared in more than 300 journals, and his work has been featured in numerous literary anthologies. He has given readings of his work and led workshops at colleges, universities, art colonies, elementary and high schools, and other venues around the country. More than 90 of his students’ work has been published.

The reading will be held outdoors, and the organizers recommend bringing a lawn chair to ensure enough seating. An outdoor bar will offer beer and wine for purchase, and food may be purchased from the market.

This program is free and open to the public.

CropWalking on my new knee!

Friends,
I know some of you have seen this already. Sorry for hitting your in-box twice!

Firstof all–no pressure.

I know all of us are asked to contribute to way more valuable causes than we possibly can.

Last year, I “Crop Hobbled” with a knee in need of surgery. This year, thanks to former student surgeon Dr. Jon Hop, I have a brand new knee and am ready to roll. Well, walk slowly and for only so far.

I won’t get down on my new knee and beg, but if you have a Five that you were gonna spend on Triple Peanut Butter ice cream, it’d be a joy to see it land in my beggar’s bowl.

I hope you are staying healthy, avoiding the plague and having days at least dappled with delight.
On we go, and thanks no matter what.

Here’s the link for donating online:https://events.crophungerwalk.org/2021/jack-ridl

Jack

Live and In Person! Reading and Workshop with Alison Swan May 23…

On Sunday, May 23, in person, outside, and distanced, Saugatuck Center for the Arts is hosting Alison Swan and me for a  poetry reading and conversation about poetry, life, and work at 1pm that is open to the public. Alison and I love working together, and I know the conversation will be great for us, and we hope for you too!

Then at 2:30pm, Alison will conduct a creative writing workshop for the lucky folks who register for it.

This is all in celebration of Alison’s wonderful new book, A Fine Canopy, from Wayne State University Press! You’ll want this one, I promise, and can pick up a copy at the event, or click that link and order it now!

The center is asking people to RSVP for the reading, where seats are limited, and there is a registration fee for the workshop. Here is the link to sign up for both!

Recommended: The Greatest Indoor Reading Series

Looking for something that is warm, inspiring, fun, and intelligent to do on a Pandemic imprisoned Friday night?

The wife/husband duo of Treena and Ridge from Queens wanted to do something to help the pandemic disappear a bit before the weekend. So each Friday at 8:30 they present four writers and/or artists who present their artworks, be it visual or nonfiction, poetry or fiction, memoir or essay.

Each reads or presents for fifteen minutes followed by an insightful response by Ridge. It’s never stuffy, more like hanging out with warm-hearted friends. After an hour, everyone’s mic is unmuted, and off we go on a conversation that leads from here to there and somewhere. No critique. All observation and response. Never pretentious, yet always smart and often funny.

Here’s the link. You, of course, can stay as long as you want. Julie and I sit back with our sips and snacks, dive in when it feels right, and have come to know folks we never would have gotten to meet. Everyone feels welcomed and liked and appreciated.

The works presented express  inclusiveness, include new and well-seasoned writers, Usually something for everyone. After about an hour of conversation, Treena confesses her exhaustion. She teaches 7th and 8th grade Chinese students and after a full Friday of inspiration admits her exhaustion, Ridge is a burnt-out social worker so he knows the feeling.

Give it two viewings before you decide this is or isn’t for you. We’re really glad that it’s for us.

Here’s how to join the performance:  https://www.tgicast.com/events

You stay safe, ya hear!!!!

Jack

PS. One evening I even brought out one of our puppets.

PPS. Soon to appear are a couple poets many of you know: Laura Donnelly and Katie Bode-Lang!

Poetry Month Readings!

Hi there.I sure hope you are safe, and either have your vaccine or are soon to have it.
And now I try to type, sheepishly, some information about me, which I do, I hope, in order to best serve the sponsors.


1.  On April 2, I will be reading for 10-15 minutes for The Greatest Indoor Reading Series out of Queens, New York. There are four of us reading: Catherine Doty, Jack Ridl, Dinty W. Moore and Elizabeth A.I. Powell. Each reads and then the writer responds to a question from the host. The reading begins at 8:30 with ‘virtual doors’ opening at 8. Follow this link to learn how to join in.  


2.  On April 8 I will join Terry Blackhawk as we celebrate the launch of the new collection by Dennis Hinrichsen, This is Where I Live, I Have Nowhere Else to Go, from Off the Grid Press. The evening is sponsored by the Oakland Library. Follow this link to register and for more information.


3.  Throughout April seven poets will have their work on display throughout the city of South Lyons, Michigan. Each poem has been enlarged and framed. The poem they chose of mine is titled “After Spending the Morning Baking Bread” from Practicing to Walk Like a Heron, and you will find it right outside the bakery! Be sure to pick up some baked goods while you are there.

4.   Alison Swan has invited me to join her for a conversation and reading for the launch of her wonderful new collection, A Fine Canopy, from Wayne State University Press. Order the book in advance of the reading, or pick up your copy there! The evening is sponsored by the Saugatuck Center for the Arts. Just go to their website to sign up. Alison will also be giving a workshop that will focus on ways to write about the natural world. Look for details here.

Whew. I do hope you receive this as an invitation and NOT at all as an obligation.

Thanks for caring.

Be well.

Jack

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Where are the Thursday videos?

You can find them here, Thursdays at 9am live, or any time after that!

Where are the books? 

Visit Reader’s World or Hope-Geneva Bookstore in Holland, The Bookman in Grand Haven, the Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo, 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.

Jack on And Then Suddenly podcast by Angela Santillo.

Click here to watch Jack’s TedX talk.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Kindness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Everyday Forgiveness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Empathy.

Jack Ridl at Fetzer Institute on Suffering and Love.

Beyond Meaning with Jack Ridl, C3: West Michigan’s Spiritual Connection

Maybe

Jack will livestream today’s poem at 9am, ET,  on his Facebook Page here,  and the video will be saved with all of his past Livestream videos here. 

Decades ago, there was a product called Serutan. A fiber laxative. At the end of each ad, the announcer would resonantly announce, “Remember, Serutan spelled backwards is Natures.”

My little sister and I, at the conclusion of a Geritol ad, would announce, “Remember, Geritol spelled backwards is Lotireg!”

Most of us are now suffering, if not from Covid, then from Covid fatigue. Most of us, though not very active, don’t feel like being at all active. Most of us are depleted. Our “surge capacity” is depleted. Please read Tara Haelle’s reporting behind that link. “Surge capacity,” the ability to manage from within a crisis, is meant for crises whose end you can see from here. We can’t see the end. So we have no way to restore our surge capacity. And it’s all long ago spent.

The depletion shows up as a mixture of anxiety, depression and ennui. The cause? A neverending series of ambiguous losses. Maybe we go out to eat once a month. But now not going out once a month is an ambiguous loss when stirred together with all the other daily losses we never realized we depended on. We always walked our dog with Jane and her dog Diamond. We’re sick of washing our hands. One Birthday Zoom party is enough. For a while we loved spending the day in our pajamas and working online, but what we’d give for finding a parking space, wearing a blue blouse, and eating an egg salad sandwich with a fellow worker. Sure we’re glad we get to read those books we’ve been putting off, but we’re sick of reading. We are sick of managing from within a crisis. We are sick of cancellations. We are sick of it all.

And if we have suffered the loss of any of the 200,000 who have died, are caring for any of the millions who are infected, lost a job, a home, a business, we’re among millions who are grieving or barely coping.

45! 45 who can only blame, offers excuses, and wouldn’t be able to spell comfort, let alone offer it.

Americans aren’t good at grieving. We’re to be strong, carry on, get over it, let time heal. It’s embarrassing to grieve, and amid a pandemic we have no way of comforting one another except to send over another casserole.

You aren’t alone.

Not only are we afraid for ourselves and those we love, and have a leader who cannot give us assurance honestly, but one who stacks the deck against us, we now must find, on our own, some way to sustain ourselves when there really is no foolproof way to do that.

What a true, deep hug could do. But we got nothin’.

Here we are, pretty darn well off if we’re lucky, and can’t find the energy to do a thing. Not even Lotireg can give us a boost.

THIS is the norm. I almost wrote “new normal.” New? We’re all feeling old and there’s nothing normal about it.

Surge depletion and ambiguous loss are real. Take two understandings and a spoonful of compassion each morning and know that the guy across the street is experiencing it too.

Maybe

It’s another morning, the sun
pulled slowly hand over hand
to sow its earth-bound light
dappling the grasses,
fuzzy whites, lady’s mantle,
lamb’s ear, and lying across
the variegated leaves, hexing
what we think we see. Along
the lily-padded pond, the frogs
with ever croaking gulp swallow
the light’s arrival. On the porch
the dog at peace between his paws.

–Jack Ridl

First Published in Talking River
Subsequently published in Saint Peter and the Goldfinch (Wayne State University Press)

Chris Clark has published a spiritual anthology, Blessings for the Backpack of the Soul. Chris had planned to walk the entire El Camino and felt having a collection of spiritual writings, poems, and prayers would help nourish him along The Way. Of course Covid struck. However, instead of giving up on the collection, Chris decided to have it published and give the proceeds to charity. It can be downloaded for free or ordered behind the link above.

Where are the books? Visit Reader’s World or Hope-Geneva Bookstore in Holland, The Bookman in Grand Haven, the Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo, and The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague to find Jack’s books in West Michigan.

See all of Jack’s Facebook Livestream Videos Here.

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.

Jack on And Then Suddenly podcast by Angela Santillo.

Click here to watch Jack’s TedX talk.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Kindness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Everyday Forgiveness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Empathy.

Jack Ridl at Fetzer Institute on Suffering and Love.

Beyond Meaning with Jack Ridl, C3: West Michigan’s Spiritual Connection

The Chair

Jack will livestream today’s poem at 9am, ET,  on his Facebook Page here,  where the video will will be saved for later viewing. You can find all of his Livestream videos here. 

Because some personal losses happened this week that had nothing to do with Covid-19 or the protests, I thought a lot about those who are grieving in the midst of these events that affect us all. One still receives sympathy emails and notes along with baked goods, a casserole or two. But friends to sit with and be comforted by?

How does one personally grieve when one is already overwhelmed? Can you say to yourself, “I’ll put personal grieving off until family and friends can gather? No. Grief is an ambush. It attacks when it attacks, certainly immediately in the form of shock, then as the days crawl by, it sneak-attacks, and you find yourself crying in the produce section and wondering why.

And yet if you turn away from the hideous blaspheming of 45, the beautiful solidarity of the protests, the welfare of others regarding Covid, and the need to actually “serve and protect,” you feel you’ve put aside what could be — finally — a shift from consuming what isn’t needed to caring for what is.
I need to change the tone.

Let’s imagine 45’s book report on The Bible. First sentence, “It’s incredible.”

The Chair

This chair is empty. This evening
is another evening coming down around
us like the last moment before
the winds are gone and the wild
songs of the insects disappear into
the endless dream of the mind’s nest.

Whoever is not sitting in that chair
is who is resting in your veins, ready
to drift out of you, taking the voices
that interrupt the child’s play,
that hover over the marriage bed, mocking
the rhythm of being alone, ripping
the last chance from the last chance.

This empty chair sits, and sits facing
the window that frames the light
that you imagine is a gift
knowing its source is fire, its long journey
a flood, its movement through
the spider’s web a grace no less invincible
than sight. These are the days.
These are the nights. And at rest,
the empty chair.

–Jack Ridl

First published in Free Lunch. Subsequently published in Between(Dawn Vally Press).

On June 21 at 2pm I will give an online reading with charles Baxter and Laurel Blossom as part of M.L. Liebler engaging reading series on ZOOM. Write to him for details. 

Naomi Shihab Nye has a new collectionCAST AWAY (Greenwillow). She has developed a fascinatingly direct voice. Imagine, 147 pages of poems about trash! Those concerned about our environment–everyone!– will find it a companion.

Linda Hillringhouse has a personally powerful book of poems out about the things that shape her life. The Things I Didn’t Know to Wish Forfrom NYQ Books.

Dan Gerber’s new, beautifully reflective long poemLandscape at Eighty, has been gorgeously printed in letterpress by Hound Dog Press.

Gayle Boss has recorded her luminous book of environmental essays, Wild Hope, Paraclete Press, available now through Audible.

Our own Pastor Sal — Salvatore Sapienza — has a new book out, encouraging us to put away our childish thinking. It’s called… wait for it… Childish Thinking: How the Church Keeps Us Stuck in Sunday School

Where are the books? Visit Reader’s World or Hope-Geneva Bookstore in Holland, The Bookman in Grand Haven, the Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo, and The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague to find Jack’s books in West Michigan.

See all of Jack’s Facebook Livestream Videos Here.

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.

Jack on And Then Suddenly podcast by Angela Santillo.

Click here to watch Jack’s TedX talk.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Kindness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Everyday Forgiveness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Empathy.

Jack Ridl at Fetzer Institute on Suffering and Love.

Beyond Meaning with Jack Ridl, C3: West Michigan’s Spiritual Connection

Putting Away the Santas

Here’s s a New Year’s resolution: 45 will not take away our kindness.

Putting Away the Santas

I’ve found one for her every summer,
some in Christmas stores that keep things
in a desperate sparkle all year long, some
in antique shops, some at garage sales.
I set them along the windowsills here
in the house we bought and thought
would be the first in a line leading to
the perfect home. Now we can’t leave
the creek that bends its way through
the woods out back. The morning light
slides through the jagged space
between these handmade bedraggles
in divinity. Their beards flow or scraggle
down across their chests, unfurling
from their rust-red cheeks. Some raise
their arms in unabashed glee. Others
are weary, their eyes soft, their hands
barely holding on to a bear or wreath.
A few are tiny, a few are tall. One is
straight as the back of a Swedish chair,
a couple are full of gnarled Appalachian
cuts and curves. One plays the accordion;
one holds back seven dogs. Some look
as if their sacks are full of sorrow.
Our daughter made one from a
toilet paper roll. I put them out the day
after Thanksgiving, welcome each one
back, ask how their sleep among
the ornaments had gone, even thank
them for lasting one more year. Now
I wrap them one by one in a paper towel,
lay each back in its box. Come mid-July
I’ll start the search again, hoping I can
find another jolly lugger of unaccustomed joy.

–Jack Ridl

First published in Controlled Burn.

Subsequently published in Practicing to Walk Like a Heron (Wayne State University Press) co-recipient of the 2013 IndieFab/ForeWord Reviews Award for the Best Collection of Poetry published by a small or university press

People are still asking, so we will tell you, you can find the conversation between Jack and Pastor Sal Sapienza, Poetry and the Spirit, over here.

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Visit Reader’s World or Hope-Geneva Bookstore in Holland, The Bookman in Grand Haven, the Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo, 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.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Kindness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Everyday Forgiveness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Empathy.

Jack Ridl at Fetzer Institute on Suffering and Love.

Beyond Meaning with Jack Ridl, C3: West Michigan’s Spiritual Connection

Star’s Christmas

I am not in any way an expert on the Constitution; however, when it comes to impeachment, if one votes along party lines rather than fulfilling ones oath to uphold the Constitution, is that not aiding and comforting our enemies, i.e., bona fide treason? (Asking for a few million friends.)

For many it’s the day after Christmas. I love when we can bring our traditions together rather than argue about secular vs religious, or religious vs religious. For those who yelp about keeping Christ in Christmas, okay, well, Jesus, born a couple thousand years ago, love incarnate, taught us to unite in joy. I can see no more Jesus-like way than bringing Dickens and Luke together to open their stockings. Along with all the people celebrating the light of the world this season.

I hope if you celebrate Christmas, that your day was dappled with joy and the greatest gift of all, being able to recognize love. I try not to get all caught up in defining it. We know it when we experience it. And we recognize its absence, as when 45 descended beneath anything humane in his remarks on Congressman Dingle.

Love. We know it when we offer it, when we receive it, when we witness it.

Star’s Christmas

Outside the box store, a Salvation
Army volunteer rings her bell,
the sound taking its place
with the snowflakes falling
around her. Star, heading in
to pick up a recording, suddenly
feels caught between desire and
the bell. He feels he’s going
to blow a lay up, that
a crowd of angels is watching
to see if he’ll take the shot or
toss the ball to his teammate
cutting down the lane. Inside,
he sees the glow of florescence
hovering over the aisles. The bell
continues its single note. The ringer’s
stare moves across the lot, between
the cars, between the snowflakes.
Star feels everything in his life
change, the way a vase suddenly
becomes two faces. All he
wanted was a new cd, to take
it home, lie back on his bed and
let it let him dream. But now
each person in the store is an angel,
every dollar a story. Each car
is rusting back to earth. Star’s
sore from playing and afraid
the change he carefully drops into
the bucket is never enough, that
the bell’s one note will never stop.

–Jack Ridl

First published in Free Lunch.

Subsequently published in Losing Season (CavanKerry Press).

New Year’s resolution: Support the value of poems: Give a book to someone who isn’t aware that poems aren’t what they think they are, a book that will enable the person to feel understood and affirmed.

 

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Visit Reader’s World or Hope-Geneva Bookstore in Holland, The Bookman in Grand Haven, the Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo, 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.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Kindness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Everyday Forgiveness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Empathy.

Jack Ridl at Fetzer Institute on Suffering and Love.

Beyond Meaning with Jack Ridl, C3: West Michigan’s Spiritual Connection