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: http://bit.ly/GoldfinchGala

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.

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.

The Old Days

You may have seen it online, the photograph of a gas station sign that reads

“FREE GAS ON ANY DAY [45] DOESN’T SAY ANYTHING STUPID!”

There have been no long lines and the owner is quite sure he’ll remain in business.

I have a hunch this guy hangs out after work here in this poem.

The Old Days

In a dark corner
of the Bull’s Eye Bar

they sit, burnt out
and burned up over

wages and dreams
that turned to lies.

They live in beer
and bad jokes,

make it through
the day

by knowing
this is where

they’ll be
when the whistle blows.

Something about
the neon sign.

Something about
the elk’s head.

Something about
the floor,

the walls, the
bowling scores

taped behind
the bar.

“Wish I could
quit smoking.”

“No you don’t.”
“You’re right.”

for Nelson Oestreich

–Jack Ridl

Published in Between (Dawn Valley Press) Copies available on used book sites.

Kristin Brace will be offering a reading from her newly released collection Fence, Patio, Blessed Virgin on September 26, 6:00pm at Books & Mortar bookstore, 955 Cherry Street. SE, Grand Rapids.

On September 27 at 7:00pm, The Hope College Visiting Writers Series will open with readings by Matthew Baker and by Linda Nemec Foster and Anne Marie Oomen with illustrator Meridith Ridl from their book The Lake Michigan Mermaid. The readings will be held in the Concert Hall of the Jack H. Miller Music Center.

There are still a few spots left for The Lost Lake Writers Retreat. It’s a great time with good writing souls in a beautiful setting.

 

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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.

Aubade for Today

Something quiet after all the fireworks.

Independence Day. How many are experiencing their freedom, their independence? Too easy to be rueful about how the day this year has been sullied.
Instead, here’s some delightful news: This year’s annual Red Dock Reading will feature Thomas Lynch.
August 8, 6:30pm at — where else? — the Red Dock which is celebrating its 20th Anniversary. Congratulations to huge-hearted Tony, gently dazzling Dona, and the generous, warm-hearted staff.
To lure you to mark your calendar here’s bit about Thomas:
 
Thomas Lynch has read and lectured throughout Europe. His commentaries have
been broadcast by BBC radio and NPR, and he has appeared on MSNBC, The
Today Show, and with Bill Moyers on his PBS series, “On Our Own Terms.”
Lynch lives in his ancestral cottage in Moveen, County Clare, Ireland and Milford, Michigan.

Aubade for Today

When the morning comes,
that’s when you can do
what the morning hopes

you will do. Most can’t.
You don’t have to. If you
do though, it will then all

change. And it will be
noon and time for a
sandwich, or you might

keep going until the moon.

–Jack Ridl

 

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Visit Roan & Black 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!

That Time We Read at Roan & Black

I lost track a while ago of all the “Once Ever” experiences poetry has brought my way in the fifty years I have been in this one art.

This past weekend extended and enriched this list because of the great and lovingly generous souls at Roan & Black Gallery–John, Doug, Angela, J, Rian, and Sophia–where within the gallery’s understated but bounteous gardens the luminously soulful poet Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer and I read, accompanied by Rob Kenagy, the gently awesome improvisational guitarist/poet/friend.

We played before an audience (150 of you?!?) who welcomed each word and note with a warmth we soaked up and savored. Imagine–the gardens, a huge lawn for chair or blanket, flowers and lemon water on the set, incense keeping any gate-crashing bug at bay, the sun glowing down its way within weirdly accommodating weather, Prosecco, gourmet cookies, sighs and laughs, and good folk lingering after, enjoying just being with one another. Thanks to everyone who came and for your part in creating an evening that is already a sustaining memory.

Then on Saturday I got to be Rosemerry’s sidekick for an all-day workshop planned and hosted by the inexhaustible Colette DeNooyer at Colette and Bob’s welcoming home on Lake Michigan, where winsome and intelligent folk gathered in Rosemerry’s ideas, sparks, encouragement, insights, and perceptions — all fresh and valuable.

Do visit Roan & Black–it is truly a visit —  the gallery, sculpture gardens, the home store, and the soulful hosts. Being there brings to you something endangered and much needed– Quiet joy. Our books are still available there, but of course, that’s only one of many reasons to go!

And now before I place yet another exuberant adjective before you, I’ll sign off with two words that we sometimes overlook. But they contain the ineffable.

Thank you.

 

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Visit Roan & Black 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!