posted May 15, 2006

Chapbook of Poems by David James Published

A chapbook of poetry by David James of the Hope College faculty focuses, he notes, on "moving on from having the existential rug pulled out from under our lives."

James, who is an adjunct associate professor of English and director of the writing center at Hope, is the author of "A Little Instability without Birds." The chapbook is being published in June by Finishing Line Press.

Representing a fairly new fascination, the collection of poetry is the first by the 52-year-old James and follows the publication of only three individual poems.

The book follows a single speaker's personal, though ultimately positive, trek through instabilities after great loss. While such losses specifically include broken relationships, divorce, a diminished sense of self and purpose, and even death, the book also suggests readers' various losses and the instabilities that arise from them. Individual poems use varying voices and forms that gradually evolve the speaker's outlook, with only the slight and necessary regression of the title poem before the concluding poem's quiet celebration of "now."

Poet Jack Ridl of the English faculty has said that James's poems "pull us away from the terrible onslaught of daily distractions and lead us back to what matters... We feel somehow comforted and grateful just to be still in the mysterious world." Poet Priscilla Atkins of the college's library faculty said that "the friendly, gently self-mocking author-guide in these syntactically scintillating poems leads us up and around switchbacks, hairpin turns, through surprise intersections, while never letting go our hands."

The cover art for the book features a sketch of a black-capped chickadee by Saugatuck artist Theresa Gray, who is co-owner of the Gebben Gray Gallery of Fennville.

James has been teaching writing and literature, and directing the writing and study skills tutoring program and the Summer Seminars, at Hope for nearly 20 years, and helped develop Hope's initial PATH writing program for gifted and talented adolescents. Previously, he taught English, French and theatre at Holland High School, Saugatuck High School and the now long-closed St. Augustine Seminary for high school boys, formerly located in what is now Saugatuck Dunes State Park. He has been a consultant to school districts and intermediate school districts on the teaching of writing at the kindergarten through 12th grade level, and facilitated an Ottawa-area writing project for teachers for three summers.

He graduated from Hope in 1976 with majors in English and French, and received his M.A. in English in 1980 from the University of Iowa.

Finishing Line Press is a poetry publisher based in Georgetown, Ky. In addition to its Chapbook Series, it publishes the New Women's Voices Series and sponsors the Finishing Line Press Open Chapbook Competition. Other recent Finishing Line Press releases include "Women Fresh from Water" by Jackie Bartley of the Hope English faculty and "Lip of Awareness" by former English faculty member Leon Raikes. Finishing Line Press and editor Leah Maines have both been featured in recent editions of "Poet's Market."

Copies of "A Little Instability without Birds" will be available at the college's Hope-Geneva Bookstore, located on the lower level of the DeWitt Center on Columbia Avenue at 12th Street.