posted July 16, 2014

Poetry Collections by Professor and Former Student Win Gold and Silver

Jack Ridl, professor emeritus

Published in the same month by the same press, poetry collections by emeritus professor Jack Ridl of the Hope College English faculty and 1998 Hope graduate Christopher Dombrowski have now earned honors together as well.

Ridl, who taught at Hope from 1971 until retiring in 2006, and Dombrowski, who is one of Ridl’s former students, have received Gold and Silver recognition respectively for poetry in the 2013 IndieFab Awards competition sponsored by “Foreword Reviews” magazine.  Ridl received a Gold Award for his collection “Practicing to Walk Like a Heron,” and Dombrowski received a Silver Award for his collection “Earth Again.”  Both collections were published in February 2013 in the “Made in Michigan Writers Series” of Wayne State University Press.

The 2013 IndieFab Awards program recognized work in more than 60 categories, with a panel of more than 100 librarians and booksellers selecting the winners from among more than 1,500 entries from the indie publishing community across a number of genres.  The competition presented Gold, Silver, Bronze and Honorable Mention awards, as well as Editor’s Choice Prizes for Fiction and Nonfiction.  The winners were announced on Friday, June 27, during the American Library Association Annual Conference, held in Las Vegas, Nevada.

There were two Gold winners, two Silver winners, two Bronze winners and one Honorable Mention in the poetry category.  Bronze winner Todd Davis, honored for his collection “In the Kingdom of the Ditch,” had read at the college in October 2013 through the Jack Ridl Visiting Writers Series.

Ridl is the author or editor of several collections of poetry, and has also published more than 300 poems in journals and has work included in numerous anthologies.  In addition, he has read his work and led workshops at colleges, universities, art colonies and other venues around the country.

He has received multiple honors for his collections.  The anthology “Poetry in Michigan/Michigan in Poetry,” which he co-edited with award-winning poet Dr. William Olsen of the Western Michigan University English faculty, was named a 2014 Michigan Notable Book.  His 2009 collection “Losing Season” (CavanKerry Press) was named the 2009 “Sports Education Book of the Year” by the Institute for International Sport at the University of Rhode Island.  The Society of Midland Authors named his collection “Broken Symmetry” one of the two best volumes of poetry published in 2006.  In 2001, his collection “Against Elegies” was chosen by U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins as the winner of the “Letterpress Chapbook Competition” sponsored by the Center for Book Arts of New York City.  Ridl’s other volumes include “The Same Ghost,” “Between,” “After School,” “Poems from ‘The Same Ghost’ and ‘Between,’” and “Outside the Center Ring.”

In addition to his volumes of poetry, Ridl is co-author, with Hope colleague Peter Schakel, of two textbooks, “Approaching Poetry: Perspectives and Responses” and “Approaching Literature.” They also co-edited two anthologies.

Ridl also received recognition both at Hope and beyond as a master teacher.  In 1996, he was chosen Michigan’s “Professor of the Year” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The college’s graduating class presented him with the “Hope Outstanding Professor Educator” Award in 1976, and the student body elected him recipient of the “Favorite Faculty/Staff Member” Award in 2003. He was chosen by the graduating seniors to be the Commencement speaker in both 1975 and 1986.

More than 85 of Ridl’s students are now published authors themselves.

Dombrowski majored in English at Hope and subsequently completed a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing at the University of Montana.  In addition to “Earth Again,” his collections include “By Cold Water,” which was a finalist for “Foreword’s” “Poetry Book of the Year,” and a chapbook.

His poems have appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies, including “Poetry,” “Michigan Quarterly Review,” “Gulf Coast,” “Crazyhorse,” “Beloit Poetry Journal” and others. Additionally, in venues such as “Orion,” “Outside” and “The Sun,” he has published essays and articles that chronicle his 15-plus summers as a river-guide in the West.  He has received awards including an Intro Award from the Associated Writing Programs, a Pushcart Prize Special Mention and a writing fellowship from the UCROSS Foundation.

Dombrowski has taught creative writing at the University of Montana and Interlochen Center for the Arts.  He guides, writes and teaches in Montana.