On Monday, Garrison Keillor read a poem on "Writers Almanac" by Jack Ridl, the recently retired professor at Hope College and our great friend. That's something wonderful in and of itself, in a nation that generally ignores its poets.
Here is the copy-and-paste link:
But then, more good news came. Big news. Amazing news. Jack received notice that his latest collection, Broken Symmetry
(Wayne State University Press, 2006) is the Co-Winner of the Society of Midland Authors Award for Poetry for 2007. Previous winners include Ted Kooser, Jim Harrison, Carl Phillips, Alice Fulton, and Richard Jones.
Jack Ridl's poems have appeared in numerous anthologies and journals including Poetry, The Georgia Review, FIELD, Poetry East
and Prairie Schooner
. Broken Symmetry
is his third volume of poetry. Jack has also published three chapbooks, two college literary textbooks, two literary anthologies, and has received several awards for his teaching of young poets. In 1996, he was chosen Michigan's "Professor of the Year" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
In 2001, his chapbook Against Elegies
was chosen by Sharon Dolin and Billy Collins for the Chapbook Award from the Center for Book Arts in New York City.
Jack is an institution in Michigan poetry. His founding of the Visiting Writer's Series at Hope College and his efforts to bring in so many important writers over the years--Maxine Kumin, Andrea Barrett, Russell Banks, Ellen Bryant Voigt, etc.--created a sense of community among west Michigan writers, which often found its lively center in Jack and Julie's living room and on their front porch after the readings ended.
To celebrate, here's a poem from Jack Ridl's Broken Symmetry
: ST. FRANCIS IN DISNEY WORLD
The children come up to him, touch
his robe and giggle. He blesses them. They
run to ask their parents to take their photo
peeking out from behind his filthy holiness.
Mickey quietly comes up beside him, his
huge fingers dangling like loaves of Wonder
Bread, tilts his head as if to say, You better
leave, take a bath, put on clean jeans.
St. Francis whispers, asking for the birds.
Mickey shakes his head. St. Francis holds
his place in line, each ride spinning its
squealing riders round or up or down: a
chug, a plunge, a long and hopeless cast
of thousands, tons of hot dogs, fries, and
pizza, sushi, Coke and Pepsi, pie and
ice cream, chocolate. There are bees.
He has no ticket. He's told to step aside.
He looks up to where the sky should be. He
watches a cat slide under a plastic
elephant. He looks back up. The sky
has gone. The earth has gone. His feet
are sore. His hands are turning into
birds. His hood is filling up with coins.
His beard is filled with bells.