Coffee Talks with Conrad Hilberry

One of the world’s best, W.S. Merwin, an important poet, translator, and environmentalist, passed away this week at 91. That’s almost 70 years of work devoted to the good. When he received the Pulitzer Prize, the war in Vietnam was raging. He wrote this in The New York Review of Books:

“I am pleased to know of the judges’ regard for my work, and I want to thank them for their wish to make their opinion public. But after years of the news… and commentary from Washington, I am too conscious of being an American to accept public congratulation with good grace, or to welcome it except as an occasion for expressing openly a shame which many Americans feel, day after day, helplessly, and in silence.”

I guess I don’t need to say how much I wish I lived in a culture that valued Merwin, his life, and his life’s work.

And speaking of peace-filled poets whose work matters…


Coffee Talks With Conrad Hilberry

He brought out the robust flavor
of everything, brewed us lines perked

for sipping, savoring— images
espresso intense, carried latte light

across rhythms energetic as caffeine.
We pour these poems dark, rich,

some with cream, none with a sugar cube,
but each accompanied by the real sweetness

of a buttery croissant, one dipped
into the full body of a fine French roast.

for Jane Hilberry

–Jack Ridl

First published in Peninsula Poets
Subsequently published in Saint Peter and the Goldfinch (Wayne State University Press)

The Gala for the Goldfinch is racking up RSVPs. We have a few more seats. Grab yours here:

Jeff Gundy has a new collection: Without a Plea (Bottom Dog Press) Here’s what Lynn Powell says, “. . . in poem after adventurous poem [Jeff Gundy reveals that ‘the world is full/ of little possibilities for love.'”

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.

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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.

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

Click here to watch Jack’s TedX talk.